Join David Blatner for an in-depth discussion in this video 2. Don't edit anything called "basic", part of InDesign: 10 Essential Tips.
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InDesign has four things that it calls a Basic Style. For example, in the Table Styles panel, there is Basic Table. In the Paragraph Styles panel, there is Basic Paragraph and in the Object Styles panel, there are two different basic things, Basic Text Frame and Basic Graphics Frame. Actually, just to let you in on the little secret here, this has nothing to do with graphics frames. I don't know why they call it Basic Graphics Frame, because this is not applied to graphics like images. This is applied to the unassigned frames, the ones you get with these tools, Rectangle, Ellipse and Polygon, not the ones you get with that X through it, with the Rectangle Frame, Ellipse and Polygon Frame tool. Those are not assigned the Basic Graphics Frame, it's just these unassigned ones.
Anyway, whatever the case, the important thing is that InDesign has four basic types of styles. It's very tempting to edit them. The one that most people try and edit is the Basic Paragraph Style. They think, well, my basic style in this document should be Myriad, let's say, 12 points and so on and so on. So they edit the Basic Paragraph Style. Don't do it. You are just going to get yourself into trouble if you do. Let me show you an example of why. I'm going to zoom in on this frame down here, just so you can see it better. I'm going to select that whole frame, it's yellow, it has formatted text in it. I'm going to copy it to the clipboard. Let me go and copy it from the Edit menu. Now I'm going to create a new document. I'll just choose the basic defaults here.
Now I'm going to paste that text frame into this document. So what happens? Well, it looks like all the formatting got stripped out. Look at that, what happened to the yellow? What happened to the font and all of that? Isn't Copy and Paste supposed to maintain the formatting? Well, it did but it only maintained the Style formatting. This text frame had the Basic Text Frame style applied to it. Because the Basic Text Frame style in that document is different than the Basic Text Frame style in this document. It threw the old one away and it applied the new style from this document. Same thing with the Basic Paragraph Style of the text.
This paragraph up here is assigned to the Basic Paragraph Style, but the Basic Paragraph Style definition in this document was different. So it used a new definition, not the old one. Now what about this paragraph down here? Well, this did get the Body Paragraph Style applied to it, just like it should have been, so why did it chang so radically? Well, let's Double-Click on it and we can see that the Body Paragraph Style here was based on Basic Paragraph. So when Basic Paragraph changed, then Body changed too.
Let's go back to that other document here and I can see that yes, indeed this had Basic applied and this had Body applied. If I select this frame with the Selection tool and look at the Object Style, it had the Basic Text Frame applied to it. So that is a problem. So what do you do instead of editing your Basic Paragraph Style? Well, you make your own Paragraph Styles. Just make any Paragraph Style and you can set it up as a default style by deselecting everything on your page. That's a Command+Shift+A or Ctrl+Shift+A on Windows. Then Click on the style that you want applied. Here I'm going to Click on Body and now that becomes my new default style. It is sort of like a Basic Paragraph became now whenever I create a text frame and start typing in it, it will automatically get the Body Style applied to it.
So once again, the rules are, don't edit your Basic Paragraph Style or any of the other styles that are called Basic, make your own styles. Don't base any new styles on Basic Paragraph or Basic Styles, because you are just going to get yourself in trouble sooner or later.
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