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- View Offline
- Exploring styles to help with design
- Building custom defaults
- Working with auto bullets and syncing to save time
- Using keystrokes and Quick Apply
- Creating and applying Masters intelligently
- Mastering autoflow in InDesign
- Managing links effectively
Skill Level Intermediate
After you've spent $2500 on a top of the line computer and another $2500 on professional level design software and add-ons, don't you hate it when you find yourself doing something like this over and over and over again? Well, let's say we've got to take this and press the Tab and then this and the Tab, and then we'll do the bullet here and Tab, and here and Tab, so on. I mean, it's ridiculous. I would say that basically 95% of everything in InDesign is a way to save you from doing something manually in a tedious way, right? But even if you're using styles and master pages and layers and all sorts of cool stuff, you will find yourself occasionally doing something manually that takes a long time. There has got to be a way in InDesign to automate this.
Now there are lots of features in InDesign, as I said, that will help you automate things and there are many features whose whole point is to automate tedious work, like automatic page numbering, using styles, using data merge for database publishing and so on. So it's a huge topic, all right? But in this video, I just want to focus on one aspect of getting something automated. A very simple aspect that we can all get our heads around that will serve as an example for every other kind of endeavor that we're doing and that is creating bulleted lists.
I was just teaching somebody InDesign about a month ago. What I'm showing you here is exactly how they were creating bulleted lists in CS4, because this is how they have always done it. They didn't know that there was a faster way. When I said why don't you just do, after you make the bullet-- because I saw just one example of about four bullets in a row. I said, why you just add the Indent to Here character? Which you can get from the keyboard by pressing Command+/ or Ctrl+/, which will automatically align everything else underneath.
They were amazed and they were like, "oh I wish we knew that from before." I said, now you can actually even copy this and click in front of another paragraph and look, it automatically indents. They jumped on that whole hog. Like, okay this made the whole training worth it. But I had to stop them. I said, actually this is the wrong way to do it. This is what we call a quick-and-dirty hanging indent. There is a proper way to do it. One of the reasons you don't want to use this way is because you have to do this manually. You have to paste it in. You can't include this in a style, right? So, I show them the different levels of automating creating bulleted lists and that's what we're going to go through. I've opened up a document that is in your Exercise Files called SellSheet, but you can use any document that you'd like for this. Now I'll zoom in on this one column of text on page 2 of the SellSheet. This is supposed to be a bulleted list, going down this column here, right after the colon after tea ceremony.
So you saw the first level of how to get hanging bullets, which is to do it the horrible way of actually typing Option+8 or Alt+8 and then type a Tab and then hit soft Return, if necessary, and then type Tab again to get everything to line up, which means of course that as you start editing text things get all messed up. So I'm going to undo all that. The better level is to actually set first line negative indents and this is the way that we were taught, I think, in school. So what we start out with was you enter your bullet, you enter a Tab, or a space, or whatever it is you want to align. I'll do a Tab. Then in the Paragraph Settings, you set a Left Indent for the entire paragraph, which is this first field here. Let's just say 2 picas, right? And I'll press Tab to have an indent of 2 picas and then in the first line indent, you set a negative amount.
So if I said -2 picas, the negative is just the Hyphen key, then you see that InDesign will automatically put that Tab where the Left Indent is supposed to be and automatically aligns it. Now this can be included in a style, right? We can select this and go to Paragraph Styles and Option+Click or Alt+Click on New Style and we'll call it basic bulleted list. So now I can click in this paragraph and go to basic bulleted list and it does the indent. I just have to remember that I have to enter the bullet itself and a Tab key to get it to align.
Now the only problem here is that the bullets you might want to look different than the rest of the text, right? You might want to use a different typeface or different color or different size. So you take one and then you make it larger. I'm pressing Command+Shift+> or Ctrl+ Shift+> to make it larger and we'll just change the color of the bullet to this purple color. The best thing to do in this case would be to select that first one that you just manually formatted instead of applying that same manual formatting to the rest of them, or I know that you're tempted to cut and paste that same bullet, which is fine for one-off jobs, but again, to become a professional user, you want InDesign to do the tedious work for you.
So instead, you would create a Character Style for that bullet, which we already have one here, but I'm going to create another one called basic bullet. Then I'll go ahead and select these bullets that I've entered manually and choose basic bullet. I should do that for the first one as well, right? So let's do that again down here. We have Paragraph Style as basic bulleted list, and then we enter the bullet, Tab, and then we select the bullet and we apply the Character Style called basic bullet. How about that? So that's with a third level of automation. So it's a little better because everything can be included in either a Paragraph or Character Style.
And if I wanted to change, let's say, the Tab setting or the indents or the color of the bullets, all I need to do is to change one Character Style or one Paragraph Style and everything will be updated throughout the document. But that's not all, folks. We can automate this even more. Starting in CS3, they included something called Nested Styles. So I'm going to select all this text here. We're going to reset it back to the Basic Paragraph. I'm holding down the Option+Shift, or on Windows Alt+Shift, and clicking Basic Paragraph, which strips out all manual formatting as well as Character Style formatting.
And then, we're going to come here and select these again and choose basic bulleted list and then edit the basic bulleted list style so that it automatically applies the Character Style to the first character, to the bullet itself. So that's called a Nested Style, when you want InDesign to automatically apply a Character Style to something in the paragraph whenever that Paragraph Style is applied. And in this case, it's easy to do because the one thing about Nested Styles is that you have to be able to define a pattern. In this case the pattern is that the character that we want to apply the Character Style to is always the very first character.
So we come up here under Nested Styles and we'll say we want to apply the basic bullets through the first... it could be Word or Character. You see, Word actually fixed it right there, because anything that is separated by a Tab or a space or something like that is called a Word, but it could just be Character too and it would work just as well. So now, let's say that I want to make this paragraph a basic bullet. I could just choose the basic bulleted list Paragraph Style. You see it's making the very first character purple. I want to click in front of there and type my Alt+8 or Option+8 to make the bullet, and then the Tab, and there we go.
So now we've saved ourselves another step of having to apply the Character Style manually by creating a Nested Style. But the very best way of automating this small task is to use the built-in automatic bulleted list feature. So let's swipe over all this. Once again, we will hold down the Option+Shift or Alt+Shift key to strip out all of the extra formatting and reset it all back to Basic Paragraph. We're also going to get rid of the Tab and the bullet. If I were very good about this, I'd use Find/Change to automate everything that I'm showing to you.
Now, I already have actually a style created in my Paragraph Styles panel called Body bullets that shows how this works. I'm going to select these paragraphs and then just apply the style called Body bullets. Now was that easy or what? I didn't even have to enter the bullet or the Tab. So how is that working? Inside the Body bullet style, down here in Bullets and Numbering, the List Type has been defined as Bullet. This is the bullet character. You could choose any character that you'd like for the bullet. After the bullet, we want to have a Tab. You can choose any other kind of character that you'd like. Then we can also apply a Character Style to the bullet, which we've already created. There is bullet and basic bullet. And that's about it.
So if for some reason, you wanted to change the color of one of these bullets, you want to apply some manual formatting, you can see this is the only downfall of the Auto Bullet feature is that you can't select those characters, because they're not really characters. You'd have to click inside this paragraph and choose Convert Bullets to Text, which I'm doing just by right-clicking in the paragraph. Now it's an actual bullet character with the Tab that you can see, and I can select the bullet and change its color if I wanted to, to let's say gray.
Of course, you can do this kind of auto-formatting to numbered lists, which is an even cooler way that InDesign can automatically format different levels of numbered lists and can automatically number images or figure captions in separate frames. They don't even have to be in the same frame or across different documents in the book. I encourage you to look at either one of my titles or one of David's titles or Deke's titles, any of the InDesign titles here, to learn much more about doing auto bulleted and auto numbered lists. But the whole point of this habit that I'm talking about in this video is, if you ever find yourself doing tedious formatting, you need to take some time to make sure that you're not overlooking some sort of automated way that InDesign can do that for you. I mean chances are the feature is just sitting there in InDesign, waiting for you to discover it.