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Creating and applying nested styles


InDesign Typography

with Nigel French

Video: Creating and applying nested styles

How do we combine Character Styles and Paragraph Styles together so that we can get multiple formats with a single click? Well, the answer as you probably guessed is Nested Styles. Nested Styles allow us to incorporate or the nest Character Styles into a Paragraph Style definition so that with a single click we can set off a chain reaction. Here is what I mean. I'll turn on the second layer so I can see the starting state of this text, and with one click I can apply that formatting.
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  1. 4m 4s
    1. Welcome
    2. Using the exercise files
    3. Customizing the workspace for type
      2m 18s
  2. 9m 25s
    1. What is Typekit? (CC 2014.1)
      1m 56s
    2. Choosing and syncing fonts (CC 2014.1)
      3m 6s
    3. Syncing problems (CC 2014.1)
      1m 43s
    4. Typekit resources (CC 2014.1)
      1m 5s
    5. Using the Font menu (CC 2014.1)
      1m 35s
  3. 55m 41s
    1. Working with text frames
      8m 26s
    2. Using a primary text frame (CS6 and later)
      3m 59s
    3. Understanding text flow methods
      6m 25s
    4. Understanding text threads
      3m 40s
    5. Understanding Smart Text Reflow
      2m 27s
    6. Mocking up pages with placeholder text
      5m 47s
    7. Placing multiple text files
      3m 50s
    8. Using Auto-Size text frames (CS6 and later)
      4m 1s
    9. Copying and pasting vs. placing
      2m 25s
    10. Cleaning up text with Find/Change
      5m 46s
    11. Using the Story Editor
      3m 41s
    12. Spanning columns
      5m 14s
  4. 48m 34s
    1. Choosing your type
      6m 46s
    2. Understanding text essentials
      6m 37s
    3. Scaling type
      2m 27s
    4. Using italic and oblique type
      4m 33s
    5. Working with condensed and extended type
      4m 26s
    6. Setting type in all caps
      3m 46s
    7. Setting type in small caps
      4m 21s
    8. Underlining type
      4m 11s
    9. Using superscript and subscript
      4m 35s
    10. Applying baseline shift
      4m 8s
    11. Combining typefaces (CC 2014.1)
      2m 44s
  5. 16m 6s
    1. Understanding type anatomy
      3m 25s
    2. Exploring serif and sans serif
      2m 48s
    3. Comparing points, picas, and ems
      8m 34s
    4. What's in a name?
      1m 19s
  6. 16m 27s
    1. Setting leading
      4m 56s
    2. Avoiding auto-leading
      4m 12s
    3. Leading shortcuts and preferences
      4m 7s
    4. Using autoleading with inline graphics
      3m 12s
  7. 21m 25s
    1. Defining kerning and tracking
      2m 5s
    2. Understanding kerning methods
      5m 10s
    3. When and how to kern
      5m 53s
    4. When and how to track
      8m 17s
  8. 48m 42s
    1. Working with quotes, primes, and apostrophes
      8m 16s
    2. Using dashes
      5m 24s
    3. Using ellipses
      2m 56s
    4. Working with accents and special characters
      4m 1s
    5. Using space characters
      4m 15s
    6. Working with ligatures
      4m 29s
    7. Setting fractions
      3m 56s
    8. Using lining and proportional numerals
      2m 49s
    9. Using alternates, swashes, and ornaments
      5m 2s
    10. Working with optical sizes
      4m 40s
    11. Stylistic sets (CC 2014.1)
      2m 54s
  9. 57m 20s
    1. Understanding alignment
      3m 47s
    2. Working with left-aligned type
      3m 24s
    3. Working with justified type
      7m 5s
    4. Using Optical Margin Alignment
      3m 39s
    5. Determining column width
      4m 53s
    6. Working with center alignment
      5m 36s
    7. Working with right alignment
      1m 22s
    8. Aligning to or away from the spine
      1m 50s
    9. Understanding the Paragraph Composer and Single-line Composer
      3m 44s
    10. Combining alignments
      9m 20s
    11. Using hanging punctuation
      2m 13s
    12. Working with vertical alignment
      10m 27s
  10. 14m 9s
    1. Using first-line indents
      2m 26s
    2. Using indent alternatives
      2m 3s
    3. Working with left and right indents
      4m 0s
    4. Using last-line indents and outdents
      1m 26s
    5. Using paragraph spacing
      4m 14s
  11. 23m 19s
    1. Setting hyphenation
      6m 14s
    2. Working with line breaks and discretionary hyphens
      4m 48s
    3. Balancing ragged lines
      1m 36s
    4. Using the No Break feature and non-breaking characters
      2m 52s
    5. Using frame, column, and page breaks
      3m 42s
    6. Defining Keep Options
      4m 7s
  12. 37m 53s
    1. Understanding tabs
      8m 58s
    2. Considerations for table text
      3m 55s
    3. Table tips and tricks
      11m 55s
    4. Creating a bulleted list
      6m 50s
    5. Creating a numbered list
      3m 46s
    6. Creating a multi-level numbered list
      2m 29s
  13. 23m 12s
    1. Understanding drop caps
      11m 3s
    2. Navigating tricky drop caps
      5m 14s
    3. Using a nested character style with a drop cap
      3m 59s
    4. Other uses of drop caps
      2m 56s
  14. 1h 11m
    1. Understanding paragraph and character styles
      7m 13s
    2. Creating, applying, and editing styles
      7m 3s
    3. Removing overrides
      4m 58s
    4. Creating and applying character styles
      5m 4s
    5. Creating and applying nested styles
      12m 30s
    6. Using GREP styles (regular expressions)
      4m 8s
    7. Creating and applying sequential styles
      6m 19s
    8. Using paragraph rules creatively
      11m 48s
    9. Mapping Word styles
      6m 12s
    10. Working with anchored objects and object styles
      6m 24s
  15. 25m 30s
    1. Applying a text wrap
      6m 7s
    2. Making items ignore a text wrap
      1m 46s
    3. Using text wraps for flexible layouts
      3m 2s
    4. Working with difficult text wraps
      8m 39s
    5. Inverting text wraps
      2m 7s
    6. Setting text wrap preferences
      3m 49s
  16. 29m 33s
    1. Choosing a page size and setting margins
      6m 33s
    2. Setting up columns
      2m 53s
    3. Dividing a page into rows
      3m 27s
    4. Setting up a baseline grid
      5m 40s
    5. Handling baseline grid problems
      3m 37s
    6. Baseline grid tricks
      7m 23s
  17. 44m 26s
    1. Working with type outlines (CC 2014.1)
      6m 50s
    2. Creating an interlocking effect (CC 2014.1)
      3m 31s
    3. Fusing letterforms (CC 2014.1)
      7m 15s
    4. Type and gradients (CC 2014.1)
      4m 57s
    5. Type and transparency (CC 2014.1)
      1m 50s
    6. Type on a path: Circles (CC 2014.1)
      4m 48s
    7. Type on a path: Calligram (CC 2014.1)
      6m 16s
    8. Vertical type (CC 2014.1)
      2m 58s
    9. Type and image: Gradient (CC 2014.1)
      1m 38s
    10. Type and image: "See-through" type (CC 2014.1)
      1m 8s
    11. Type and image: "Disappearing" type (CC 2014.1)
      3m 15s
  18. 12m 19s
    1. Looking at screen documents
      4m 2s
    2. Setting size, leading, and line length onscreen
      3m 13s
    3. Exploring typefaces designed for the screen
      3m 36s
    4. Accessibility: Contrast and color
      1m 28s
  19. 28s
    1. Goodbye

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Watch the Online Video Course InDesign Typography
9h 20m Intermediate Aug 03, 2012 Updated Nov 12, 2014

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

Explore the numerous type options, type-related features, and type-specific preferences of Adobe InDesign. Using practical, real-world examples, instructor and designer Nigel French dissects the anatomy of a typeface and defines the vocabulary of typography. The course moves from the micro to the macro level, addressing issues such as choosing page size, determining the size of margins, adjusting number columns, and achieving a clean look with baseline grids. This course takes you from laying out a page to delving into the hows and whys of typography.

Topics include:
  • Understanding text threads and text flow methods in InDesign
  • Using Copy and Paste vs. Place
  • Choosing and combining typefaces
  • Understanding leading and how it relates to type size and column width
  • Comparing points, picas, and ems
  • Learning the proper use of white space and break characters
  • Understanding the finer points of kerning and tracking
  • Working with punctuation, special characters, ornaments, and ligatures
  • Aligning text
  • Applying global formatting with paragraph, character, and object styles
  • Refining spacing with indents
  • Creating drop caps
  • Avoiding common problems associated with justified type and text wraps
  • Setting up margins and columns
Nigel French

Creating and applying nested styles

How do we combine Character Styles and Paragraph Styles together so that we can get multiple formats with a single click? Well, the answer as you probably guessed is Nested Styles. Nested Styles allow us to incorporate or the nest Character Styles into a Paragraph Style definition so that with a single click we can set off a chain reaction. Here is what I mean. I'll turn on the second layer so I can see the starting state of this text, and with one click I can apply that formatting.

Swipe through these three paragraphs, a single click is all that's necessary to apply the formatting. I am going to undo those two steps so that we can see how we can create these from scratch. Okay, so creating your nested styles. First of all, we create the base paragraph style. So I am just going to select this paragraph and do whatever it is I need to do to it. I am just going to leave it as is, but I will take off the hyphenation. Just a word about Nested Styles, it's possible to create these incredibly elaborate Nested Styles where you with a single click apply a whole range of formats.

They are very impressive to see demonstrated, but often it takes so long to set them up that you might as well just go and format the text in a more conventional way. And the other problem with them can be that if you are sharing documents, if you are working in any sort of workgroup situation, unless you were the person who set these things up, they can be really rather confusing as to how they work, especially if you are working with people that aren't quite as switched on in terms of their InDesign knowledge as you are. So I have kept my examples really simple here, and I think that a really simple application of Nested Styles is really where the time-saving and efficiency comes in.

So a common usage is for our running head, where we don't have the room to have our subhead and the body text on separate paragraphs, but we need to save space and have the text begin right after the head on the same line. So I'm going to come to my Paragraph Styles, and I am going to save this as a Paragraph Style, and I am going to call it runin_ns. Now why am I doing that? The reason I am doing this is because it's useful to know at a glance when you glance down your Paragraph Styles panel, what paragraph styles have nested character styles in them.

Otherwise, you may get some very unpredictable results. So that's just a sort of transparency issue and just my own personal convention for working with Nested Styles. All right! Having done that, I can set up the Nested Style while I'm here. You may prefer to first of all set up your Character Styles, but we can do it all in one place, and that's what I am going to do. So you probably remember we saw this earlier when we were working with Drop Caps. We can apply nested styles to our drop cap, that's not what we want here.

I am going to go ahead and click on New Nested Style, and what I'm after is applying my color, but I am going to pretend that I don't have a Character Style already created. I am going to create one, and I'll call it color and then come to my Character Color, scroll down, and I'll use this Pantone color that's in there, Pantone 302, click OK, and then if I move that out of the way, we can see what's happening there. I have the text selected, so we are seeing the inverse color of that, but we can see that the first word is colored, that's because my current Nested Style says apply this Character Style through 1 word. All right! Well, we don't want one word.

Nested Styles depend absolutely on consistency of formatting. So what's consistent about the way I am going to have my run-in heads is they are all going to finish with a colon. So if we look at the options that we have here, I could say through a specified number of words or characters, but I am just going to type in colon, and then when I press my Tab key, we can see that that updates. So I'll click OK, and there is my run-in head. Now actually I also want it to be bold, I forgot that.

So, if you forget something about the formatting, you can now come to the Character Style that you have created and edit that, Basic Character Formats. I also want it to be a different Font as well, Myriad Pro bold, and now we see update in place. Look what happens if I take the colon out of the equation. Without the colon to switch off the Character Style, the Character Style remains on for the whole paragraph. Wherever I insert the colon, that's where the Character Style gets turned off, and it reverts to the normal for the Paragraph Style.

So that's what I mean when I say that consistent formatting is absolutely paramount. Nested Styles can and frequently do incorporate more than one Character Style. Another very common usage of Nested Styles is a Table of Contents page in a magazine. So what I am going to do here is set up my Paragraph Style first of all. I'll select this first paragraph by clicking it four times. Let's turn on my Hidden Characters just so we can see that we have tabs in here, and that's what's creating the hanging indent.

I am now going to press Command+6, or Ctrl+6, to jump to my Font menu, type in the first few characters of the typeface that I am after, and I am now going to switch to my Paragraph Formats, and we would like to have a left indent of 1 pica and 6 points or 18 points, and a First-line indent of -1 pica and 6 points, and that will bring that first character back flush with the left edge of the text frame. Okay, so that's how my paragraph is going to look.

Paragraph Styles > New Paragraph Style, I'll call this contents_ns, and let's say I now want to go and add in my Drop Caps and Nested Styles. So I want two here, New Nested Style. You know what? I'm going to just click OK and then move that over, like so, and then right-click on Paragraph Style name to come back to it so that we can see the change taking effect. So back to New Nested Styles. This is going to color the page number.

I would like it to be bold, and I would like it to be in a color, and I'll have it be magenta. We'll call that page number, click OK, that's looking good. Now I need another Nested Style, New Nested Style, and this time I am going to call it article. And again, I would like it to be bold, but using a different color, we'll use Cyan here. Click OK, and I forgot I also want it to be All Caps, so I can change that.

Unfortunately, you can't go back to the Character Style here, you have to go and edit it from the Character Style panel itself. All right! Now we are going to see that that's okay up to a point, but it's not entirely going to work, and I want you to see why it's not going to work. So when I click OK, I can now select all, and I can apply that, and there is the problem. The problem is that it works great when we have a one-word article, but if it's going to be any more than that, then it's not going to work.

So let me just come and first of all address the casing issue. All right! But we still have this problem. So how do we solve that? Well, as I said, we need consistency. We need to identify a consistent pattern. When some of our article is going to be one word, some are going to be two, three, four, how do we predict that? Well, we can't. In the case of the run- in head, we have the colon, but stylistically using a colon in this example is going to look odd.

We don't want to have that. We need a different solution. I am going to come back, and I am going to edit this again. And what I am going to say when all else files, when you cannot identify a consistent pattern, then you have this option, through--and let me just point out the other choice there is up to. And had I, in the case of this one, chosen up to, it would have colored everything up to the colon but not the colon itself, which is why we chose through. Now I am going to choose through again, but I am then going to choose here End Nested Style Character, and End Nested Style Character is an invisible character that you have to go and insert wherever you want to turn off the Nested Style.

So it does involve some manual input which unfortunately does somewhat undermine the automated nature of the Nested Style. We could maybe go for an em space and then just insert em Spaces after the article or department name, and that might work, too, but I don't want an em space, because an em space is going to visually be bigger than a regular space. So I am going to choose End Nested Style Character, which has no width whatsoever, and then click OK. And then things just get worse, because at the moment that End Nested Style Character is not in the text. We need to insert it.

So to insert it, if I right-click, come down to Insert Special Character > Other > End Nested Style Here. Great! The only problem with that is it's a long way to that menu. So what you might want to do if you are going to use this approach is make yourself a keyboard shortcut, and that's what I am going to do. I am going to make myself a keyboard shortcut. I'll have to have a new keyboard shortcut set to start with. Once you have that set, you can just continue to modify it, but you will need to set to begin with, and then I need to choose the menu that that option is under, it's under the Type Menu.

Then I get a list of everything under the Type Menu. I am now going to scroll down to Insert Special Character: Other: End Nested Style Here, which is right there. Click in the Shortcut field, and we need to use something that is not being used by anything else. On the Mac, we have the fourth modifier key that isn't used that much, the Ctrl key. If I apply Ctrl+X, we see that that's currently unassigned. I am going to Assign that, click OK, and now to insert my End Nested Style Characters, I can just press Ctrl+X, the relevant points to turn off the Character Style.

So when you cannot identify a consistent pattern, you always have the End Nested Style Character to fallback on. One other thing relating to Nested Styles, and that is we have the Repeat option. So let's say that I want to create this effect. I am going to switch back to my Character Formats. Now quick tip here, I am on my Paragraph Formats, if I want to switch to my Characters Formats, I know I have them over there, but I prefer to have them on the left. Keyboard shortcut for that is Command+Option+7, or Ctrl+Alt+7, then Command+6 or Ctrl+6, jump to my Font menu--and let's also make that Semi bold and a little bit bigger.

Okay, so that's how we want that to look. So I am now going to create a Paragraph Style based on this, and as I did before, I am just going to move this part of the page over to the left and choose New Paragraph Style, and we'll call this repeat_ns and come down to my Drop Caps and Nested Styles, New Nested Style, I'll use the color Character Style through 1 word. And if we turn off the Preview, turn it back on again, that's what we have so far, New Nested Style. I am then going to say I want nothing to happen, i.e., just the base formatting for the paragraph through 1 word.

New Nested Style again, and this time I am going to Repeat. This happens automatically, repeat the last two styles. So when I click OK, that's our result. So I am now going to save this out as nested styles_in progress, and in the next movie, I'll show you how we can use the related feature of a GREP style.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about InDesign Typography .

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The exercise files provided aren't working in my version of InDesign (CS4, CS5, or CS5.5). What should I use?
This course was recorded using InDesign CS6. For InDesign users working with CS4, CS5, or CS5.5, IDML files are provided.
Q: Where can I learn more about graphic design?
A: Discover more about this topic by visiting graphic design on
Q: This course was updated on 11/12/2014. What changed?
A: We added 18 new movies, primarily in the "Using Typekit" and "Type Treatments and Effects" chapters. These movies describe new and enhanced typography features in the latest release of InDesign CC, and are indicated by the "(CC 2014.1)" tag in their names.
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