InDesign tip : #22

of course, you already use paragraph and character styles — and you know that anyone using InDesign and NOT using styles is a loony — but many people are still missing out on the full power of these features simply because they don’t know about nested styles.

nested styles allow you to quickly format a bunch of paragraphs that share the same character style overrides. this grab shows part of a page of text — the first paragraph shows how all the other paragraphs should look (click to enlarge) :
screen grab show page of text and first paragraph styled

for that first paragraph we have created a paragraph style (basic body) and two character styles (body bold and body oblique). now, you could format all the rest of the text by first styling it all to the paragraph style and then manually selecting the bits you want to be bold and oblique and applying the appropriate character styles — but that would be tedious.

for nested styles, once you have your para and chara styles set, you format ALL the text to just the para style (and apply the chara style ‘none’) :
screen grab showing all text styled to paragraph style only

… then you edit your paragraph style to set the nesting :
screen grab showing how to set the nested style

for this example we’re using a ‘line’ style — which applies the character style body oblique to the entire first line of each paragraph (there are soft returns after the dates in these paragraphs). and the other nested style applies the character style body bold to the first four words. and PRESTO! :
screen grab showing fully styled text for all text on page

… quicker than you can say “wow” the whole shebang is done. but there’s a little glitch — not all the bits of text that should be bold are four words long — dammit :
screen grab showing problem paragraph

it would be great if we could fix this by just setting the nested style to change at the em dash — but, unfortunately, that’s not possible just yet (maybe future versions). so we have to try another trick — the end nested style here character. for this example we’re placing the character just before the em dash. you do that by placing your cursor and right-clicking to bring up the contextual menu — then choose insert special character > other > end nested style here :
contextual menu showing where to find the end nested style here character

… then just use find/change to seek out all em dashes and replace them with the special character/em dash combo :
using find/change to place special character before em dashes

… then go back and edit the paragraph style. this time we need to set the first nested style to apply body bold up to first end nested style here character :
changing nested style to end at special character

sorted :
screen grab showing correctly styled text

now, after all that, just to reiterate THE most important piece of information in this post — if you’re not using paragraph and character styles, you’re probably a loony.

keep grunting

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