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In this series, David Blatner and Anne-Marie Concepción, co-hosts of the web's top resource for InDesign tips and tricks, InDesignSecrets.com, share some hidden and sometimes surprising workflow tips that will make working in InDesign more efficient and more fun. The course covers built-in timesaving features such as Quick Apply and auto-expanding text, but also little-known tricks, such as using the eyedropper to copy and paste character and paragraph text attributes and making accurate selections by selecting through or even into objects.
New techniques will be added to the collection every other week, so check back early and often. Find more tips and tricks at indesignsecrets.com.
Nobody likes formatting prices. You know turning this into this. Woah. How did I do that with just one click? Well I applied a paragraph style of course but how did the paragraph style apply all that different formatting. First I'll undo this by pressing Cmd or Ctrl+Z. The trick is making character styles, and I have three different character styles in this document. One for my dollar sign, one for the cents, and one for this period.
That dot disappears because I applied the character style called disappear. And I made that disappear character style in a clever way. Let's go ahead and choose Style options here, and we'll look. All this is doing is, it's changing the size to one point, and it's changing the color to none. So it's really teeny and it doesn't show up at all because it has no color. Apply that to the dot. And it completely disappears. Of course it would be really tedious to have to apply those character styles, on at a time, for every price, so instead, I can embed them into a paragraph style.
Let me undo that. Just press Cmd+Z a few times. So I'm going to create a new paragraph style by going to the paragraph styles panel and choosing New Paragraph Style. I'll give this a name. I'll call this my new price. And I'm going to choose the Drop Caps and Nested Styles pane. In here I'll choose New Nested style. Nested Styles are a great way to automatically apply character styles within a paragraph style. Let me move this dialogue box out of the way, so we can see what we're doing. And I'm going to click on this word None because I want to apply the dollar symbol through the first not word, so I'll click on Word, but instead, Characters.
Dollarsymbol through one character. Now, I need a new Nested Style. I'm going to choose None up to one dot. There's no dot character inside this popup menu, but fortunately I can replace the word here with a character. I just type the period. So, it's going to apply none up until the point that it finds a period. Then I'm going to apply the disappear through one character. And finally I'm going to choose cents through two characters.
There we go. There are my nested style rules. Let's see how it goes. I'll turn on the preview check box and nothing happens because I forgot to go back to the general pane and turn on Apply Style to Selection. There we go. Now it's applying the style to the selection while the dialog box is open. Looks good. Looks like it worked. I'll click OK, and we'll try it out on this price down here. New price, boom, it's done. I love it. Now I can use a nested style like this when it's the only text on the paragraph. But let's look at the next page.
I'll press Shift+Page Down to go to page two. And I'm going to see that here the text is inside of a sentence. Well if I place the text cursor in this paragraph and apply our paragraph style that's not so good. Didn't work at all, did it? Let's go ahead and undo that. And instead I'm going to use a GREP style instead of a nested style. GREP styles are great because they let you apply character styles automatically, no matter where the pattern lies inside of the paragraph. Doesn't have to be right at the beginning. I'll make a new paragraph style.
I'll call this one third times a charm. I'll go to the GREP style pane, and I need to create a new GREP style. And this is going to get a little bit technical, but bear with me it's not that hard. I'll click New GREP style, once again move this out of the way so I can see what I'm doing. I'm going to say, I'm going to choose a style here, the dollar symbol and I'll say assign the dollar symbol character style to any place that you see an actual dollar sign. I can't type the dollar sign itself, because that's a reserved code in GREP, so instead I have to type \$.
Click out here, and we can see that any time there's a dollar sign, it's automatically going to get that special character style applied to it. Now it gets a little bit more complex. New GREP style. I'm going to say Apply cents Any time you see two numbers that are preceded by a dot, the code for two numbers is \d\d. But I want it to say only two numbers if there's a dot behind it. So I'll go to my Flyout Menu > Match > Positive Look Behind.
Positive look behind means I'm positive that if you look behind, you're going to see one of these things. And in between the equal and a close parenthesis, I need to put a backslash period. That's a code for two numbers where I'm positive that behind it there's a period. And finally we need to make that dot disappear, so I'm going to say new grip style. Choose my disappear character style. I'll type backslash period, which means find the dot. But only when there's two numbers after it.
Once again, Flyout Menu > Match > Positive Look Ahead, inside the closed parenthesis, \D\D. There we go. Apply the dollar symbol character style to anything that's actually a dollar symbol. Apply cents to only the things that look like cents, and apply disappear to the dots only when they're followed by two numbers. And we can see over here that it's working. I'll press Enter to close the dialog box. And we can try it out. I going to zoom to 400% here so we can really see what's going on.
And I'm going to simply type something that matches that. I'll type the dollar sign. And you can see it immediately gets that character style. I'm going to type nine with a dot. And we don't have any character styles yet and finally 75. And when in design stops jumping around, and I pan over to it, you can see that it automatically got all of my styling. Nested styles and GREP styles are two of the best ways to boost your efficiency. I know they seem hard at first, but believe me, it doesn't take long to get up to speed with them and see results fast.
If you want to know more about GREP styles, check out my course in the online training library called InDesign, Ten Things to Know About GREP.
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