Join Anne-Marie Concepción for an in-depth discussion in this video Automating your text formatting with nested styles, part of InDesign: Designing Templates.
- Now that we have our paragraph and character styles all cleaned up, let's make them really smart. For example, we can get InDesign to automatically apply a character style to certain words in a paragraph whenever we apply the paragraph style to that paragraph. It's like two tricks in one. Now, we can get InDesign to do that in two different ways. First, as a nested style that I'm going to be talking about in this video, and second, you can do it as a GREP style, which is a little bit more complicated but more flexible and I'll be talking about that in another video in this chapter.
Now one note I want to mention is that we're not seeing any of the column guides here or the ruler guides because I went to the View menu, went down to Grids and Guides and chose Hide Guides, or pressed the keyboard shortcut. So I think it just makes it a little easier to work with text when the guides are not there, unless you're actually trying to align paragraphs, but that's not what we're doing. Okay, so let's talk about the training wheels of nested styles, that's what I like to call it, and that is the Drop Cap. We have a Drop Cap right here in the first paragraph, I'm zooming in and if we go to the Paragraph Style, Paragraph Copy with Drop Cap and edit it, we can see, way down here, Drop Caps and Nested Styles are together and that's because Drop Caps are a nested style.
It's just that it's very simple to do, that's why I called it on training wheels. We know with a Drop Cap, that it's always going to be the first letter, or the first couple letters. So we know the position of where the Drop Cap should be. We can easily tell it how many lines to drop, how many characters to create into a Drop Cap and then we have the drop down menu for the character style. And I've already created the Drop Cap character style. You don't have to have a character style but it sure makes it a lot easier. Otherwise, it just makes a large version of whatever the first character is in your paragraph in that same font.
Now let's talk about a nested style. Nested Styles are right below where Drop Caps are. With a nested style, we tell InDesign what is the character style from the same kind of drop down menu, but we say how long should that character style be applied through how many what's? Words, sentences, characters, etc. I'm going to delete this and let's actually look for an example of where we can apply this.
I'll zoom out again, rephrase. So the idea is, you would consider creating a nested style or adding a nested style to a paragraph style if you're constantly applying the same character style to the same characters in that paragraph. Example, these captions. Let's assume that we always want top photo, bottom photo, etc., and the colon to be italic. So I come over here to the Character Style panel and there we have Italic Caption Lead in.
But if I want this to happen all the time, why not edit the caption style itself to automatically apply this character style, right? Let's go ahead and do that. The paragraph style is Caption Copy Black, I'm going to edit it and I'll move it over so we can see the results with Preview turned on. Come down to Drop Caps and Nested Styles. We want a new Nested Style that applies Italic Caption Lead in through one and then we come over here and look for colon and there's not there, however, this is an editable field, so we can actually type a colon.
There you go. To see it go into effect, click in the gray area and then you'll see it apply. And that's all you need to do. Click OK and there you go. So we've added our first nested style. Here's another example, let's come over here to the bullets. Let's say that we want to first couple words in every bullet to be purple and large. So I think I've already created a character style for that. Now what we're going to do is edit the Paragraph Style to nest that character style in it.
So there are three steps involved in creating a nested style. One, create the paragraph style and apply it. Two, create the character style. Three, nest that character style in the paragraph style. And you do that by editing the paragraph style to include it. Okay, so we want to edit the paragraph style. Before I go here I wanted you to look that this is not an automatic bulleted list, which is a shame but we're not going to bother about that now. But we do want to count how many characters, because we're going to need to know this.
So there's a tab, a bullet, a tab and then it looks like an align to here and then the first word. So that's fine. Let's come up over here and edit the bulleted list. We want to add a Nested Style so click New Nested Style, and by the way, you can have multiple nested styles apply, so a character style can be applied to a word and then a different character style to the rest of the sentence and so on, it's pretty flexible. However, in this instance, we don't want any character applied to the first things.
So I'm going to leave it at None and I'll say up to the second tab. So I'll say two and then over here there is a Tab Character. So this, in effect is telling it to skip the first part, use None to do that. Then I want to add a Nested Style that applies the purple lead in through the first two words. There you go. Let's say that after you do that you realize, "Well, sometimes I don't want that character "style to be applied." For example, I don't want the word "your" to be purple, I just want "research" to be purple.
It's really simple to turn off the Nested Style for your paragraph. I would not bother creating duplicate paragraph styles, one that has nested and one that doesn't. Instead, try to think ahead and just create nested styles where they make the most sense and where they're going to save the person using this template a lot of time and then rely on them knowing how to go to the Type menu, going to Insert Special Character, Other, and Nested Style here.
Oh, I know why it's not taking into effect because I actually have the character style applied here. So I'll say None. There's no character styles applied manually. Now everything's being applied via the nested style as you can see down here. That's why you look for the paragraph symbol and let's try that again. This time I'm going to right click and choose Insert Special Character, Other, and Nested Style there and it inserts this little zero width space so that we don't see it when it's printed or exported to PDF and there you go.
You have automatically made the first couple words in this interesting emphasis style to all your bullets. So now that saves you a ton of work in having to tediously select all these words and make them purple yourself, you can just apply the bullet style and it'll take care of it for you. And that's the power of nested styles.
So what are you waiting for? In this course, Anne-Marie Concepción shows how to use InDesign to find and create templates that fit your needs. By building in the power tools you need for production—flexible master pages, logical layers, object styles, libraries and snippets, and styles—you'll have a template that prepares you for success. Plus, get tips, secret shortcuts, and useful scripts, as well as practice lessons to reinforce your newfound skills along the way.
- Finding free and paid InDesign templates
- Creating templates from existing documents
- Setting up new templates: margins, swatches, grids, and more
- Adding text and image placeholders
- Creating reusable elements
- Making smart paragraph, character, and object styles
- Embedding a custom preflight check
- Adding a style guide
- Working with special EPUB and interactive templates