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Quick paragraph style application transformation ... or reverse engineering a document the hard way?

Apr 10, 2013 4:03 AM

Tags: #toc #cs5.5 #import #paragraph #printing #styles #scripts

Hi everyone,

I'm using Indesign 5.5 for Windows and have inherited a technical document with no styling applied (not even text threads or auto-pagination), but all the fonts are in the correct sizes and colours. So it looks ok in print, but trying to actually do anything with it is a nightmare.  For obvious reasons I WANT to apply paragraph styles to the document so I can generate a new auto-updating TOC, maintain and add to it, and all the other good stuff that means.


My question is this - is my only choice to go through page by page and apply new styles (matching their current appearence) to every different heading and bullet point, or is there a nice easy way (or script) that i can use to whizz through the document for me, neatly applying a new style to each different font variety or element it finds (not altering their appearence) and leaving me with a nice list of styles I can rename (then take all the credit for? ha!) Basically take a document that's already been put together wrong, and make it right? I think this might've been imported into InDesign from something like Quark, hence the state it's in, but I don't have access to anything but this version. Any help you could offer would be great.  Oh, and if (as I suspect) my only option is indeed to apply all the styles manually one line at a time, then feel free to point and laugh, I doubtless deserve it.



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    Apr 10, 2013 5:17 AM   in reply to Eavisgrebe

    This may be scriptable, but I don't know scripting, so here is what I would do:


    Use one instance of each paragraph format to create the styles you want. Then use find/chage to look for the formatting, and apply the style.


    If there is any individual word formatting in the document, set up Character Styles containing just the changed aspect, such as bold or italic, and apply those to the words. I'm not sure find/change would work for this part - it might need to be done manaully.

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    Apr 10, 2013 5:25 AM   in reply to Eavisgrebe

    Find/Change can also be your friend in cases like this id you can identify the cahracterstics of the text you want to style, but I'd start by using a script, and there are some good ones listed at

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    Apr 10, 2013 8:18 AM   in reply to Eavisgrebe

    I don't think you can escape some manual work, but if you can see what appear to be paragraph styles (that are not yet named and defined), like Body Text or Headings, or Quotes or whatever, you can set those styles up, then search for the text that has that formatting using Find/Change and which also does not have another style assigned (set the character style to None in the find formatting), then change the paragraph style. You want to do this AFTER assigning character styles.

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    Apr 10, 2013 8:28 AM   in reply to Eavisgrebe

    @Phil – you could also use the Stylighter script by Marc Autret to visually check your work in progress:



    I found this very helpful…



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    Apr 10, 2013 9:45 AM   in reply to Eavisgrebe

    Or pagination, or text reflow, which is my fun job for tomorrow, manually hooking up every page with text threads then watching as the whole thing comes unravelled in a horrible mess!

    If you need to thread a whole bunch of unthreaded frames that already have stuff in 'em, I would advise installing Rorohiko's free utility TextStitch. It can automatically thread the whole document for you, but it does so in a programmatic top-down left-right way. If your document is like the, um, er, stuff I rebuild on a daily basis, then the automatic-frame-threader won't work for you due to overlapping frames that are not in logical order. Fortunately, there's a handy "QuickStitch" that lets you thread already-full frames with one click per frame. It's an incredible timesaver.

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    Apr 10, 2013 12:49 PM   in reply to Eavisgrebe

    If you need to reproduce the existing page layouts, I'd suggest you read up more on what paragraph styles can do, before annihilating whatever layout and flow behaviors have been stuck on the content. For example, if level "X" headings always start at the top of a text frame, or top of a page, or even top of a right page, or top of a left page, a paragraph style property can do this. So you'd want to create and apply a paragraph that does this to those paragraphs before you thread text frames; the top of <whatever> frame paragraph property will keep the paragraphs in place.


    It is possible to create paragraph styles with properties that behave crazily when they do what you define for them. For example, you can define a paragraph style that sets the style of the paragraph that's created when you press Enter/Return. You can also use the smartness built into the Next Style property. If a paragraph style, say Head1 is defined to create a new paragraph when you press Enter/Return, it can also apply its next style property to the paragraph follows Head1 in the same text selection. So, if you select a paragraph that's supposed to become Head1 (which defines its next style as BodyAfterHead1) and also select the paragraph that follows it,  and then hold down Ctrl+Click on the Head1 style's name in the Paragraph Styles panel, Apply "Head1" then Next Style appears. If BodyAfterHead1 defines Body as its next style, and more than two consecutive paragraphs are selected, Head1 will be applied to the first paragraph, BodyAfterHead1 will be applied to the second paragraph, and Body will be applied to the third and following paragraphs.


    So, you'll be investing in setting up the Next Style property for paragraph styles, and selecting as many consecutive paragraphs as needed for applying a pattern of styles that agrees with your next style definitions. Each time you use this feature, you're collecting benefits from your investment.


    If you need to reproduce the look of the layout on some number of pages, you could export to PDF and use a script to efficiently place each page of a multi-page PDF on a "PDF layer" you create, that appears on every document page in the ID document, lock and move the layer below the active document layer, and use it as a placement underlay.


    Search Google for terms like "InDesign apply style and next style," "InDesign place multipage pdf script," "InDesign installing and using scripts," "InDesign paragraph style keep options," and "InDesign start paragraph options," without quotes, for informative links to anywhere on the Web, as well as on these Adobe forums. To limit the searches to Adobe forums only, include "forums.adobe" without quotes in the search query.










    Peter Gold

    KnowHow ProServices

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