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Styles are a way to specify a whole bunch of formatting with a single name. InDesign lets you create styles for character formatting, paragraph formatting, object formatting, even table formatting, and there are three main reasons why you want to use styles. First, they let you apply a lot of formatting with a single click, so they really boost productivity. For example, I'll zoom in here on the bottom part of this page, and I can see that some of this text has been formatted, but most of it has not. I need to apply formatting quickly to that text. To do that, I want my Paragraph Styles panel.
I can find that over here in the dock. If you don't see the Paragraph Styles panel over here, then make sure you're in the Advanced workspace. I'll double-click in the name of the first unformatted paragraph, and I can see that the current paragraph style is Basic Paragraph. We want to avoid Basic Paragraph as much as we can. It's much better to apply our own paragraph styles. In this case, I have one, and it's called Department Fashion. With one click on that Dept Fashion, it applies a whole bunch of formatting to that paragraph.
Notice that I didn't have to select the entire paragraph to apply that. I just had the cursor flashing inside the paragraph. Now let's do a few more. I'll click in the next paragraph, and I'm going to apply Course name. The next one down is date, this one is going to be body, and then these last two paragraphs -- I'll just select a little bit of each of them -- is going to be a paragraph style called Prereq_ns. There we go. You can see that I was able to format this whole bunch of text really quickly. If I'd had to do that manually, applying first the font, and the size, and the leading, and all of that, that would have taken much longer.
Now we'll start over again. Here's the course name, here's the date, here's the body, and then we have a little bit of the prerequisites at the bottom. As we'll see later in this chapter, there are other ways to apply these paragraph styles really quickly, such as the Eyedropper tool, and quick apply, but for now, I'm going to stick with it like this, and I'm going to show you how to edit these styles, because the second reason to use styles is that you can change a style definition at any time, and every place you use that style in your document is updated immediately.
For example, to edit this Course name style, I click in it, it shows up as highlighted in the Paragraph Styles panel, and then I can double-click on it to open the Paragraph Style Options dialog box. Let's just make a few changes here. For example, I'll make this Bold instead of Semibold, and why don't we give it a color; maybe this blue color? I'll click OK, and you can see that it changes throughout the document. Everywhere where that paragraph style was applied is now changed.
Now I'm going to edit the date paragraph style, but instead of selecting it, I'm going to right-click on it. By right-clicking, or Control+click with a one-button mouse, I can jump right to Edit "date" without accidentally applying that date, or changing anything in my document. Here I'm going to choose Basic Character Formats, and I'll just make this a little bit smaller. Once again, I used that right-click or Control+click on the date paragraph style, because I didn't want to apply it to the text which is currently selected on my document page.
So now that we've looked at how to apply styles, and then edit them, let's talk about how to create our own new style. I'm going to create a new paragraph style for my captions. So to do that, I'm going to create an example that I want to copy. I'll place my cursor in this text frame in the middle, and then I'll select all that text with a Command+A or Control+A. Now I'm going to change the style of this to bold, and I'm going to make it smaller. Let's make this 8.5, or 9.5. That looks pretty good for a caption. Now let's make a paragraph style based on it.
To make a paragraph style based on an example on your page, like we're going to do here, you can either select the whole paragraph, or just select a part of it, or just have your cursor flashing in it, like I do here. Now I'll go to the Paragraph Styles panel menu flyout menu, and choose New Paragraph Style. Because the cursor was inside that paragraph, it took all of that formatting, and it dropped it in here. So now all I need to do is give it a name. Of course, if I wanted to, I could go through these panes one at a time, changing the font, the size, styles, the scale, indents, all of that, but you could see that would take a long time.
I would much rather just make a selection, have it sucked up into this dialog box, make sure the Apply Style to Selection checkbox is turned on, and then click OK. It makes my paragraph style, and automatically applies it to the paragraph where the text cursor is. Now let's try it out. I'm going to pan over to this other caption over here on this page, place my cursor there, and click on caption. Perfect! This demonstrates the third reason I want to use styles, and that is consistency.
I want to ensure consistency throughout my document, so I don't have to think about, jeez; was that last caption 13 points, or 12 points, or 10 points? I don't know. It doesn't matter. You simply apply the style to all your captions, and you know they'll look all the same. Now one more thing I want to point out. Sometimes you'll notice a little Plus symbol in the Paragraph Styles panel. For example, I'll select all this text by quadruple-clicking on it, and I'm just going to change the size, just for kicks. You'll notice that anywhere I click inside this paragraph style, I get a little Plus sign in the Paragraph Styles panel, and if I hover my cursor over that, you'll see the Overrides tooltip.
This shows me that there's additional formatting on top of the paragraph style. These are called overrides, local overrides, and the tooltip shows me that the override was the size; it's now 11 point. If you ever have a document where you see that Plus sign, you can get rid of the local formatting by clicking on the Remove Overrides button down at the bottom of the Tool panel. As soon as I click on Remove Overrides, anything that was done to that, outside of, or above the paragraph style definition, is removed.
Once again, paragraph styles are one of the most important productivity features in InDesign. The more you use them, the more efficient you'll get.
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