InDesign Fortnight 9: Super-powered Styles

Here’s one that can be used if you’ve got any strictly repeating structure and one of the tricks that I love presenting – it’s so much formatting applied with just one click.

I’m using a document containing some soccer fixtures – it has everything we need in the way of structure (which is essential here – any variation will cause this to break) and if you want to download a copy (in IDML format) via this link.

Mis en Place

Although mis en place is a culinary term I’m going to borrow it here – it means ‘everything in place’ (chefs don’t want to go scrabbling around for utensils while they’re preparing food) – and the InDesign equivalent is the workspace. As we’re going to be dealing mainly with typography let’s use a suitable workspace – go to the workspace switcher and choose Typography from the list – it’s probably a good idea to expand the panels by clicking the double-arrows at the top of the panel set, too. Workspace switching isn’t used enough in my opinion – it’s a lightning fast way to access the tools you need without having panels littered all over the place – if you don’t use it already, you really should give it a try.

Creating the Type Styles

We’ll begin by creating paragraph styles for each line, and a character style for the match date – we’ll do that first so that we can use it in one of the paragraph styles. Create a new character style which we will call “Red” and set it up as follows: Font Style: Bold, Character Colour – choose red from the default swatches. Don’t add anything to any of the other fields to make this style as flexible as possible – we’ll let the paragraph styles do the rest of the work.

There are going to be three paragraph styles here (as shown above) and we’re going to create them in the reverse order that they’ll be used, so that we can use Next Style.

Begin by making the style for the match detail – we’ll name it “Detail” and the options I’ve used (you may want to vary these – I’ve kept them very basic and specific to my region) are as follows:

Font: Arial, Regular, 10pt

Language: English UK

Space After: 3mm

I’ve also created a nested style to apply the character style “Red” to the first ‘word’ in that style which takes care of the date. Just in case you’ve never done this before, here’s how:

In the Drop Caps and Nested Styles category, click the New Nested Style button. From the drop-down choose your “Red” character style and if necessary modify the other options in that line to “through” “1″ and “words” as in the image above (click on it to see a larger view if you need to); this will work as there are no spaces in the date so it’s considered as a ‘word’ here. We’ll have to revisit this style at the end of this process but for now you can click OK and then we’ll create the next style for the ‘group’ line – I’ve called mine “Group” and it has the following attributes:

Next Style: Detail

Font: Arial, Italic, 12pt

Space After: 2mm

with that style completed we just need to create one more, called “Match”:

Next Style: Group

Font: Arial Black, Regular, 17pt

Space After: 2mm

Finally, we need to go back into the “Detail” style options and set the Next Style there to “Match” – now we’ve created a formatting loop and – again – that’s why a consistent structure is vital, any change to the pattern will cause this to break.

How Next Style Works

Next Style is a really powerful little feature – what it does is when you reach the end of a paragraph as you type, it automatically switches to the next style. Combining that with Quick Apply to get to the top of the ‘style tree’ means that you can format type incredibly quickly – one of my two minute tip podcasts covers it and you can watch that here. So how is it going to help us with that list if it’s meant to work when you’re typing? The answer is by putting it into an Object Style.

Creating the Object Style

In the Control Strip locate the Object Style button and drop-down. Click on the button and select New Object Style – we’ll call it “worldCup”.

Although it won’t hurt to leave them on, I’m going to set most of the Basic Attributes categories here to Ignore (shown by a small line in the checkboxes) with the exception of the Paragraph Styles – you can do this by alt-clicking on the Paragraph Styles check box twice (once turns all the attributes on, the second turns the others off). Now click on the category to access its detail area and then set the Paragraph Style to “Match” – enable the Apply Next Style checkbox and you’re done – it’s ready to use!

Click on the text frame containing the unstyled list and then either by using Quick Apply or the Object Styles drop-down, choose worldCup and – as if by magic – your list is completely styled. There are so many ways to use this feature – I use it on call-out boxes all the time and the only thing is that they must adhere to a rigid repeating structure (think of what we’ve done here: Match – Group – Detail – Match – Group – Detail… ).

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