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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.
I have a table of contents here, but I want to pretty it up a little bit. Move all the page numbers to the right margin. And then, maybe add some dot leaders in between to help the eye travel from the left side of the page over to those numbers. You can see that I have hidden characters turned on. That's that little tab character there which is normally invisible. You can turn that on an off at the bottom of the Type menu > Hide or Show Hidden Characters. I'll hide them for now, to change the position of the numbers, and add the dot leaders, I'm going to change the paragraph style definition.
But I'm not going to do it inside the paragraph style dialog box, because it's just too big and unwieldy. Instead, I'm going to double click to switch to the type tool, and I'll go to the Type Menu > Tabs. That opens up the tabs panel, and now, I can place a tab stop exactly where I want to it. I'm going to make sure I'm set up with a right aligned tab and then click over here near the right margin. That positions the number near the right margin but now I want to give it a tab leader. So I'll go over here and in the leader field press the dot or the period key on my keyboard.
Then I'll hit the Enter or Return key, and I can see that I now have a tab leader. It's not the prettiest tab leader, but it'll do for now. Let's go ahead and close the tab panel. And now we'll apply this same dot leader to all my other paragraphs in the table of contents. To do that, I'll open my Paragraph Styles panel, and in the menu, choose Redefine Style. It changed all the paragraphs in my table of contents, because my toc 2 and toc 3 paragraphs are all based on toc 1. So that's starting to look pretty good, except that all those dots are too clunky, it looks like somebody just typed periods over and over again.I want something a little bit more refined, more elegant.
To start with I want to make those dots a little bit smaller. How would I do that though? Well here's the trick. Those tabs are all actually characters. And if they're characters, you can select them. I'll just drag right over that tab character, and it selects it. Now open the control panel, I can change the size. For example, I'll make this six points. Now I have lots of little tiny, tiny periods, all next to each other. I'd like to make them farther apart, and I can change how far one character is from the next, by changing the tracking.
That's this field up here in the control panel, if I set this to something larger like 50, it moves them a little bit farther apart. If I come up here and change it to something huge like 500, it moves them much farther apart. And that is looking much better. So once I've got one of these tabs the way I want it to look I'll select it, and go to the Character Styles panel and make myself a character style. New Character Style. I'll call this dot leader, and then I'll make sure Apply Style To Selection is turned on, and click OK.
But once I have my character style, how am I going to apply it to all of these other paragraphs? I don't want to have to do that manually, that would be really tedious. Fortunately you don't have to. There are two ways to apply that style to all of those paragraphs. One is to come up to the Layout menu > Table of Contents and basically just recreate the Table of Contents from scratch. But this time I would choose dot leader out of the style pop up menu here. In other words its going to apply the dot leader style to the tab in here. If you don't see these options you want to click the More Options button up here.
In this case I'm not going to recreate the table of contents because I've done some custom work inside this table of contents and I don't want to wipe it out. So I need a different method to do it. Here's what I do. I'll go to my paragraph styles, and I'm going to edit the TOC 1 style. I like right clicking on it and choosing Edit from the context menu. Next, I'll go to the GREP Style pane. This is a little bit scary for some people, but don't worry, this is going to be easy. I'll click, New GREP Style. And then I'm going to click on the Style and choose Dot leader out of the apply style pop up menu.
I want to apply it not to my numbers, so I'll delete that. But instead, to a tab. You probably don't know what the code for tab is. But that's okay, because you can choose it out of this little menu on the right. I'll just choose tab. And it types the code for you. I'll click OK. And we immediately see that that character style is applied everywhere that there's a tab inside of any of these paragraph styles. I think that looks just so much better. Okay. See you in the next episode of In Design Secrets.
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