"The default tab settings depend on the Horizontal ruler units setting in the Units & Increments preferences dialog box."
This statement is copied and pasted in posts all across the internet, but nowhere can I find exactly what it means? What are the settings for each ruler increment? Can this be overridden, for instance default tabs every quarter inch instead of every half inch? The inconsistencies of styles between applications (e.g., Word docs placed into ID) necessitate falling back on the defaults - styles are not the solution I'm looking for.
I won't swear to it, but I think what they are saying is that the default tab stops are the at the same physical locations (every half inch, apparently), but the values of the postions change depending on the units being used.
Inconsistencies from application to application and user to user is precisely why you DO want to use styles to control your text and not depend on defaults.
<grumble>Poor wording choice by the technical writer then. Here's why styles are not the solution, but the start of the problem:
Even Word has an option to change the default "undefined" tab stops.</grumble>
ID's less-than-stellar record on importing SOME word documents has nothing to do with whether tabs should be defined in a style. To permit the deafults is the same as failing to set a font, as far as I'm concerend.
I would like to be able to copy the tabs in a tab dialog box and apply them to another paragraph. Without this simple feature it's necessary to set the tabs for every paragraph.
Creating a style is not the solution here because the tabs are not consistent from page to page (or even paragraph to paragraph), depending the length of various items. For example, one paragraph might have three columns and next has six or seven.
Perhaps in CS6?
Is there a reason you can't use the eyedropper for this? If you click in (rather than drag across) your target paragraph, then your tabs will be transfered, but local formatting will not be affected (if both paragraphs carry the same underlying style).
If they don't have the same style, then double-clicking the eyedropper tool will allow you to select for what attributes to transfer, and you can choose for the eyedropper to pick up tabs only.
That sounds brilliant but I can't get it to work. I can't seem to pick up the attributes I want (which contain Paragraph Styles and Character Styles). The Eyedroper flips but the attributes it applies don't carry the Styles. And I can't seem to get a menu by double-clicking. I appreciate your suggestion and will spend some time working with the Eyedropper to see if I can make it work. Any more suggestions are very welcome!
When you click on the source paragraph, make sure you are clicking directly on one of the letters. Other than that, I don't know. I did a few tests with this, and it worked for me. What version of InDesign are you using.
CS5 - and yes! I got it to work, mostly. I didn't realize it because the source document has extra tabs, and the tab ruler doesn't show the tab marks, and I had to do the column heads separate because I still didn't get the double-click thing to work.
But thank you so much for your advice! You've saved me tons of time. Sending you a handful of virtual flowers : )