Join David Blatner for an in-depth discussion in this video Use character styles, part of InDesign CC 2018 Essential Training.
- [Instructor] 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. 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 the font or the size, or the size and the color, but nothing else. So let's see how it's done.
I'm going to jump to the previous part of this document by pressing opt+PgUp or alt+PgUp on Windows, and now I'll zoom in on this part of the page. Because I'm going to be working with character styles, I'd better open the character styles panel, which I can find over here at the bottom of the dock. If you don't see that in your dock, make sure you have the advanced workspace selected up here in the application bar, or you can find those panels by going to the window menu, coming down to styles, and then choosing character styles.
Now I have some character styles already created here, but I'm going to start by creating a brand new one, and I'm going to do that, not inside that panel, but instead on the page. I like to make character styles based on an example. So I'm going to double click on top of the text that I want to edit. That usually places the text cursor right where you've double clicked, but in this case, I have to click one more time. Now, I'd like to select this text over here. That's what I call a run-in heading. Let's go ahead and change the style of this.
First, I'm going to make it all caps by clicking on the all caps button in the control panel. Let's also make it bold from the style popup menu. It looks a little tight, so let's space it out a little bit by adding some tracking, and then finally, let's change the color. I'll choose this medium gray down here. So now that I've made my example, I can make the character style. While that text is still selected, I'll go back to my character styles panel, and in the panel menu, I'll choose new character style up here at the top.
Now all that formatting that I did, in fact, all the changes I just made, are sucked up here inside the dialog box. So really all I need to do is give it a name. I'll call it run in head, and then I'm going to turn on apply style to selection, that way when I click ok, it'll not only make the style, but apply it to the selected text, and I'm going to turn off add to CC library. That can be helpful if I'm going to be using the same style in Illustrator or Photo Shop, or a lot of other documents.
But in this case, I'm just making it for this particular document. Now I'll click ok, it makes the style, and automatically applies it to that text. Now every time I want to use that same character style, all I need to do is select some text, come over to my character styles panel, and click once on the style. There you go. I'll do it again. Perfect. 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, never an entire paragraph, and this is really important.
I find a lot of inDesign users go in and select an entire paragraph like this. They grab the entire paragraph and then apply a style to it. This is not what character styles are for. It can only cause you headaches later if you use them like this. Character styles are only for a piece of a paragraph, so I'm going to undo this with the cmd+z or ctrl+z on Windows. I don't like even pretending to do it. If you need to apply formatting to an entire paragraph, use a paragraph style. That's what those are for.
Okay, now, what if you need to edit the character style, that one we just made. The best way to edit a character style is to right click on it. This opens the context menu and now you can choose edit. Now we can make our change. For example, let's go ahead and change its color. I want this bright pink color this time, then I'll click ok. And you can see it changes throughout the document. Now notice that I did not double click on the character style to edit it. A lot of people 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 that you currently have selected. Well, if you've already applied the style to some text, then I suppose double clicking is okay, or if you mean to apply it to some text, I suppose it's okay. But really, the main problem is when you have nothing selected on your page, and if you double click on a character style to edit when nothing is selected on your page, then you're making that character style your default text formatting for the document, and that means it gets applied to all your text that you create.
It's incredibly annoying, believe me. So when nothing is selected on your page, you always want to make sure that character styles panel is set to none. So as you can see, character styles make the process of reformatting a document really a breeze, as long as you remember to use them.
- Creating a new layout
- Inserting pages
- Adding text
- Inserting graphics
- Applying color and transparency
- Drawing and editing frames and paths
- Formatting objects
- Formatting text
- Creating styles for uniform formatting
- Building tables
- Adding links and interactivity
- Printing and exporting InDesign documents