Join Mike Rankin for an in-depth discussion in this video Using Based On styles, part of Creating Long Documents with InDesign.
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Basing one or even many styles on a parent style is a powerful technique that will help you create styles quickly and make changes to them even faster. You simply use one style as the basis for variations. You keep some attributes the same and change others. Then you can use Based On with any kind of style, paragraph styles, character styles, object styles, table and cell styles. Just don't take it too far and create a long complicated set of dependencies. It's okay for your styles to have parents or even grandparents, but when you get to having great-grandparents of styles you might've gone too far.
So in this document, I have my basic body text and I need to make a change, because underneath every photo, I need a different paragraph style that doesn't indent the first line, and I am going to base the new style on my body text style. So with my cursor in the paragraph, I will go to my Paragraph Styles panel and I will Option or Alt + Click on the new style button, and I will call this one BF-BodyFirst. It's going to Based On the BodyText style, and since the style after it I want to be plain body text, I am going to make the next style BodyText.
Then I will go into Indents and Spacing and change the First Line Indent to 0, and click OK. Now I will apply BodyFirst to that paragraph and the indent goes away. Now to illustrate some of the potential hazards of Based On styles, let's take a look at what can happen if you base styles on Basic Paragraph. I don't want to come across as saying you shouldn't base styles on basic paragraph, some people do it very successfully, but they are careful and strategic about how they do it.
But I want to show this just so you can see how things can go wrong with Based On styles if you are not paying attention. So here are two text frames. They look identical, and in fact, in this document they are, at least in terms of appearance, but under the hood they're different, and that difference is the Based On relationships. The styles on the left are based on no paragraph style which can't be edited, but the ones on the right are based on Basic Paragraph, which can be edited. Now in this document there's no difference between Basic Paragraph and no paragraph style, but what if I took this text and put in another document where Basic Paragraph had been edited.
So I will create a new document, and I will edit Basic Paragraph. I will change the Basic Character Formats to something like Papyrus. Now I'll go back to my other document, I'll select both of these frames and copy them and paste them into my new document. I'll zoom in and you can see what happened. The ones that were Based On no paragraph style kept their original formatting and the ones that were Based On basic paragraph with a different definition, changed when they came into this document.
So that's just something to consider when you're setting up your Based On Style relationships. If you base on Basic Paragraph, you leave the door open to your text changing when it's pasted into another document. Okay, let's go back to the other document and see some of the benefits of Based On Styles. I will go back to the first page of the document, and in this whole layout I've created relationships to one master style that I called Base. I can see it in the Paragraph Styles panel. Down at the bottom in the Misc Style set, it's Base. This is like Basic Paragraph, in that I can edit it, but unlike Basic Paragraph, I'll never see this text unexpectedly change, when I move it from one document to another, because someone has changed the definition of Basic Paragraph.
So the scenario now is that the designer has called and said that the entire program is being changed to use a different font. Literally, everything will have to change. Now this could be the occasion to freak out if I hadn't planned in advance, but because of the relative simplicity of this page design, I was able to have every style dependent on the style base for their typeface. So if I change that, I will see the entire book change before my eyes. So let's do that. I will right-click on Base, I will choose Edit Base, Basic Character Formats and I can pick a different font if I want to.
So say the designer loved Papyrus and she wanted the whole book to be laid out with that. So I will just type that in here and click OK, and all my style has changed. So the chapter number, the chapter title, the drop cap, the body text, even the page number, and if I go down to some of my other pages, I can see that the poetry has changed too, the running headers, all these things were tied to that Base paragraph style, and I was able to change them all with just about one click. Now in most situations you wouldn't be able to create such a one-to-many relationship, but this does illustrate what can be achieved almost instantly with Based On Styles.
One thing that's worth mentioning if you're having trouble figuring out the Based On relationships in the document that you didn't create or maybe even the one that you did create, but you can't remember exactly what you did, there is a free script from In-Tools that can help you. In my Scripts panel, I have the script called ShowBasedOn. I'll double-click to run it, and it just opens up a simple dialog box where I can see all the Based On relationships. I can tip open the triangles and see that the foundation of the document is No Paragraph Style, Basic Paragraph is based on that, and then Base and most of my styles are all based on Base.
But some of them also have parent styles as well like Body Text, and the Recipe style and the Chapter Headings. So I have Chapter Heading Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3, and the only difference here is the size of the text. Basing one style on another can be a great way to streamline your document construction and it gives you the ability to quickly implement large-scale design changes throughout your documents, no matter how long or complex they are.
Next, we'll see how to create automated character formatting with nested styles.
- Using text variables
- Creating templates for InDesign, InCopy, and Word
- Employing nested styles
- Creating GREP styles
- Managing color with swatches
- Building page elements with libraries and snippets
- Performing GREP find/changes
- Using InCopy workflows
- Tracking changes
- Adding footnotes and indexes
- Using InDesign book files
- Versioning documents with conditional text or object styles
- Preflighting documents
- Archiving a project
- Finding and installing useful scripts and plug-ins for frequent challenges