Paragraph Styles and Character Styles
To follow along download the paragraph styles sample sheet created in InDesign CC seen below.
What are Paragraph Styles?
Paragraph Styles is THE #1 time-saver for applying styles to InDesign documents, because when change requests occur down the road you only need to apply the change in one place and it keeps the styled text consistent — let the computer do the hard work of keeping track of how many secondary headers you have and what their font size is! In fact, it can keep track of your entire style library, how awesome is that? Here is the definition of Paragraph and Character Styles in Adobe’s words:
A paragraph style includes both character and paragraph formatting attributes, and can be applied to a paragraph or range of paragraphs. A character style is a collection of character formatting attributes that can be applied to text in a single step. Paragraph styles and character styles are found on separate panels.
The hardest part about using Paragraph Styles is setting them up, but once you do they make styling documents take less time to revise, and every little bit helps.
How to use Paragraph Styles
First, open the Paragraph Styles panel by going to Windows > Styles > Paragraph Styles (Keyboard Shortcut: Command + F11 for Mac, F11 for PC)
If you open the Paragraph Styles panel in a new document you will see only one style called “[Basic Paragraph]” — this is the default style that every document is written in unless you create your own Paragraph Styles.
If you open the panel here you can see that I already created a few basic Paragraph Styles to help build out the style structure of this sample.
Try it out: Paragraph Styles
These paragraphs are using the “Copy” paragraph style (in the InDesign document). Want a bigger font size for our paragraph text? That adjustment can be made in one place if you use Paragraph Styles consistently.
Within the Paragraph Styles panel double-click on the “Copy” paragraph style and navigate to the “Basic Character Formats” section (right underneath “General”) and you will see the same styling options you do in the first section of the “Character Formatting Controls” area below “File.” The benefit of editing text size (or whatever you need to style differently) here means it is universally applied to all text using the “Copy” style. Let’s bump the text size to 12 and see what happens. Of course the text will need to go onto another page if you keep this style change, but that’s a lot less work than highlighting every paragraph and manually changing the font size from 10 to 12.
Here is an example of headers using unique Paragraph Styles:
With the Paragraph Styles panel open, highlight the above heading samples and see how each is built by following the same steps in the previous section (follow along within the downloadable InDesign file).
Pro‑Tip: I always turn off “Hyphenation” (nine options down from “General”) to avoid any ugly text breaks. Also, when making a new Paragraph Style, under “General,” always change the “Based On” section to “[No Paragraph Style].” Otherwise your styles may be linked and that can cause problems down the road. This is only a concern when you create a new style off of an existing style as InDesign thinks they should be linked.
Try it out: Character Styles
Character Styles should only be applied in special instances. I like to apply them to captions, hyperlinks, and other oddities that occur throughout the piece that need consistent characteristics that do not include the details paragraph styles do.
How to use Character Styles
I created a character style called “CAPS” and used it in the first sentence, but if we wanted to bold the words as well as capitalize them all I have to do is open the Character Styles panel by going to Windows > Styles > Character Styles (Keyboard shortcut: Command + Shift + F11 for Mac, Shift + F11 for PC), double‑click on the “CAPS” style and navigate to “Basic Character Formats” and add “Font Style: Bold” to the character style. Since you are only editing a style and not creating a new one you can preview the change by turning Preview on (located in the bottom‑left of the open character/Paragraph Styles panel) and then you can make adjustments with confidence that any word using the “CAPS” style has changed accordingly.
For more information directly from Adobe about character and Paragraph Styles go here: https://helpx.adobe.com/indesign/using/paragraph-character-styles.html
I hope this helped!
Is this your first time using Paragraph or Character Styles? There is a lot more on this one section of InDesign that I will cover in another post.
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