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Using character styles

From: InDesign CS6 Essential Training

Video: Using character styles

Now that we know how to use paragraph styles, character styles will be a breeze. There's one big difference between defining a paragraph style and a character style, however. Paragraph styles always define all the character and paragraph formatting: the font, the size, the indents; everything that describes a paragraph. But character styles are different; they can be set up to define just one attribute, like just the font, or just the size, or the size and the color, but nothing else. Let's see how it's done. I'm going to jump to the previous spread by pressing Option+Page Up or Alt+Page Up, and I'll zoom in on this bottom part of the page.

Using character styles

Now that we know how to use paragraph styles, character styles will be a breeze. There's one big difference between defining a paragraph style and a character style, however. Paragraph styles always define all the character and paragraph formatting: the font, the size, the indents; everything that describes a paragraph. But character styles are different; they can be set up to define just one attribute, like just the font, or just the size, or the size and the color, but nothing else. Let's see how it's done. I'm going to jump to the previous spread by pressing Option+Page Up or Alt+Page Up, and I'll zoom in on this bottom part of the page.

Because I'm going to be working with character styles, I better open the character styles panel, which I can find over here in the dock. Now, I have some character styles already created, but I'm going to start by creating a brand new one. And I'll do that not within the character styles panel, but instead, on the page. I like to make a character style based on an example. So I'm going to double-click in here, and select some text, and change the style of this. For example, I'll change the font, let's make this bold, why don't we change the size a little bit, and we'll change its color; it's always nice to change its color, so it really stands out.

Now that I have the example, I can make the character style. I'll place my text cursor inside the text, or you could select some of that text; it doesn't really matter. Then I'll go to the Character Styles panel, and choose New Character Style from the menu. All I have to do is give it a name. All the formatting from the text that I created in my example is sucked up here into the dialog box: the font, the style, the size, and so on. Now all I need to do is click OK. Notice that it created the character style for me, but it did not apply it to the text.

I need to apply it to all this text in fact, so I'll select that, and click. Every time I want to use that character style, I just need to select some text, and click; select some text, and click; select some text, and click. You get the idea. It's very easy to apply all that formatting quickly with one click. Now, I want to be really, really clear about something here: character styles should only be applied to one letter, or one word, or maybe a sentence or two; not an entire paragraph. This is really important.

A lot of people, I find, select an entire paragraph, and then apply a character style to it. That's not what character styles are for. Character styles are for only a piece of a paragraph. I'm going to undo that; I don't like even pretending to do it. If you need to apply formatting to an entire paragraph, use paragraph styles; that's what it's for. What if I want to edit that character style? The best way to edit a character style is to right-click on it, or Control+Click with a one-button mouse, and that brings up the context menu.

From here, I can choose Edit. Here in the Character Style Options dialog box, I can change it to something else. For example, let's pick a different color, and why don't we change this from Bold to Bold Condensed? Click OK, and you can see that everywhere in my document -- everywhere I used that character style -- it gets updated. Notice that I did not double-click on the character style to edit it. A lot of InDesign users try that, and they get themselves into trouble. The reason is, whenever you double-click on a character style, it applies it to any text you currently have selected.

It's really a problem when you have nothing selected. If I press Command+Shift+A or Control+Shift+A to deselect everything, and why don't I pan over here, so I have some space on the Pasteboard to work with, if I double-click on this word emphasis edit it, it opens up the Character Styles dialog box, and then I could edit it or not; you'll get the idea in a moment. I'll click OK, and now what happened? Well, it didn't look like I changed anything, but if I drag out a text frame, and start typing, all that text is in my character style.

Why? Because I double-clicked on that when nothing was selected on my page, it made that character style the new default style for this document. This is a trap that even advanced InDesign users fall into all the time. It's a real problem. So let's go ahead and delete that. You want to make sure the Character Style panel is set to None, unless you're applying a style to some text inside of a text frame. It's always tempting just to hit a keyboard shortcut to make some text bold or italic, but it's much better to use character styles. For example, I have italic and bold character styles that I've created here, so if I want to make something italic, I select the text, and click on the italic character style.

This is particularly important if you know that you're going to be repurposing your document for EPUB, or HTML, or that you know that you're going to need to reformat the whole thing later for some other purpose. Character styles make the process of reformatting a document really a breeze, as long as you remember to use them.

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This video is part of

Image for InDesign CS6 Essential Training
InDesign CS6 Essential Training

113 video lessons · 81230 viewers

David Blatner
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 1m 23s
    1. What is InDesign?
      1m 23s
  2. 2m 38s
    1. Welcome
      1m 0s
    2. Using the exercise files
      1m 38s
  3. 21m 19s
    1. Getting started
      3m 33s
    2. Adding or editing text
      3m 23s
    3. Adding or replacing graphics
      4m 31s
    4. Moving objects around
      4m 55s
    5. Printing and creating a PDF
      4m 57s
  4. 26m 6s
    1. Exploring the application window
      6m 25s
    2. Navigating and magnifying pages and objects
      6m 24s
    3. Setting rulers and measurements
      2m 35s
    4. Working with panels
      3m 58s
    5. Setting the view quality of artwork
      2m 31s
    6. Adjusting view and preview settings
      4m 13s
  5. 27m 52s
    1. Creating new documents
      7m 39s
    2. Saving and reverting documents
      4m 2s
    3. Saving for CS4 and CS5 with IDML
      2m 24s
    4. Setting the margin and column guides
      4m 29s
    5. Putting ruler guides on the page
      5m 7s
    6. Bleeding colors or images off the side of the page
      4m 11s
  6. 23m 37s
    1. Inserting, deleting, and moving pages
      4m 32s
    2. Changing page size
      4m 38s
    3. Creating and applying master pages
      5m 18s
    4. Overriding master page items
      2m 43s
    5. Adding page numbering
      2m 22s
    6. Changing page numbering with sections
      4m 4s
  7. 52m 47s
    1. Understanding text frames
      3m 38s
    2. Typing and editing text
      4m 48s
    3. Inserting special characters
      4m 1s
    4. Importing text
      3m 47s
    5. Threading text frames
      3m 12s
    6. Setting text frame columns
      4m 31s
    7. Setting text inset and vertical justification options
      3m 48s
    8. Allowing text frames to grow and shrink
      4m 5s
    9. Putting text on a path
      5m 50s
    10. Using the Story Editor
      5m 10s
    11. Checking spelling
      5m 12s
    12. Using Find/Change
      4m 45s
  8. 28m 19s
    1. Importing graphics
      8m 20s
    2. Using the Links panel
      7m 17s
    3. Editing graphics in their original app
      3m 10s
    4. Fitting graphics to the frame
      5m 1s
    5. Taking advantage of image transparency and clipping paths
      4m 31s
  9. 35m 49s
    1. Selecting objects
      5m 2s
    2. Applying basic strokes and fills
      5m 6s
    3. Colorizing images
      1m 59s
    4. Adjusting transparency
      4m 4s
    5. Adding drop shadows
      3m 33s
    6. Using other transparency effects
      5m 15s
    7. Copying and formatting with the Eyedropper tool
      5m 59s
    8. Finding and changing object formatting
      4m 51s
  10. 18m 34s
    1. Creating color swatches
      4m 33s
    2. Understanding the danger and power of unnamed colors
      5m 46s
    3. Creating gradient swatches
      3m 53s
    4. Applying gradients
      4m 22s
  11. 15m 27s
    1. Editing frame and path shapes
      5m 8s
    2. Adding rounded corners and other corner options
      4m 8s
    3. Making polygons and starbursts
      1m 59s
    4. Creating text outlines
      4m 12s
  12. 37m 56s
    1. Positioning objects with the Gap tool
      3m 54s
    2. Stacking objects
      2m 5s
    3. Creating and controlling layers
      5m 27s
    4. Managing objects in the Layers panel
      3m 33s
    5. Grouping and locking objects
      3m 10s
    6. Nesting objects
      3m 23s
    7. Aligning and distributing objects
      4m 20s
    8. Understanding text wrap
      5m 51s
    9. Using anchored objects
      6m 13s
  13. 26m 16s
    1. Duplicating objects
      5m 37s
    2. Collecting, conveying, and placing content
      8m 58s
    3. Rotating objects
      2m 22s
    4. Scaling objects
      4m 21s
    5. Skewing objects
      1m 8s
    6. Mirroring objects
      3m 50s
  14. 24m 19s
    1. Applying basic character styling
      7m 31s
    2. Applying advanced character formatting
      4m 28s
    3. Changing case
      3m 23s
    4. Using Find/Change for text formatting
      5m 3s
    5. Using Find Font
      3m 54s
  15. 32m 51s
    1. Applying formatting to a paragraph
      4m 4s
    2. Spanning a paragraph across multiple columns
      2m 10s
    3. Splitting a paragraph into multiple columns
      1m 52s
    4. Using drop caps
      3m 26s
    5. Setting tabs
      7m 36s
    6. Adding rules (lines) above or below a paragraph
      3m 23s
    7. Adding automatic bullets
      4m 10s
    8. Numbering paragraphs
      6m 10s
  16. 19m 47s
    1. Creating and applying paragraph styles
      6m 10s
    2. Using character styles
      4m 45s
    3. Editing and redefining styles
      2m 20s
    4. Using object styles
      2m 47s
    5. Applying styles with Quick Apply
      3m 45s
  17. 39m 59s
    1. Creating a table
      4m 29s
    2. Adjusting rows and columns
      4m 36s
    3. Adding and deleting rows and columns
      3m 0s
    4. Formatting a table
      4m 32s
    5. Formatting cells
      6m 2s
    6. Applying table styles
      5m 33s
    7. Placing graphics in cells
      3m 1s
    8. Importing Microsoft Word and Excel tables
      8m 46s
  18. 16m 45s
    1. Building a multi-document book
      7m 27s
    2. Creating "continued on..." jump lines
      3m 51s
    3. Constructing a table of contents (TOC)
      5m 27s
  19. 23m 8s
    1. Exporting EPUBs
      6m 12s
    2. Creating an interactive PDF
      12m 49s
    3. Building a Flash SWF
      4m 7s
  20. 28m 1s
    1. Checking a document with the Preflight panel
      5m 26s
    2. Packaging for output
      3m 34s
    3. Using the Print dialog box
      4m 52s
    4. Printing a small booklet
      2m 46s
    5. Exporting a PDF
      7m 56s
    6. Exporting text
      3m 27s
  21. 1m 25s
    1. Next steps
      1m 25s

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