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If you are working on a book, then you really must use paragraph styles and character styles. Make a character style for the italic attribute. Give it a shortcut if you want. If you edit your shortcuts, you can even remap the cmd+i to your new character style.
The keyboard command for italics is Shift-Command-i. My tests with in InDesign CC 2017 showed that it will change the Roman version of the font to the same weight italic. Command-i activates the Spell Check feature.
Sorry, Shift-Command I is correct, should have known that. However, when using Open Sans regular as the body typeface, it will apply Open Sans Light Italic in all my documents, so don't know why my application varies from yours.
Thanks for that tip. I will use that from now on!
Cmd+Shift+I doesn't always produce what you expect. The font designer creates font association tables (I recall that's what they're called). Sometimes you'll get something unexpected. There is no way to change it (unless you have a font editor) because it's baked into the font.
Because InDesign does not allow you to assign a keyboard shortcut to character styles unless you have a numeric keypad, which I don't, here are two workable solutions:
Enter Command-Enter/Return and then type the first few letters of, in my case, the Italic character style. This technique was fast but not fast enough for me.
Create a Script and Assign Keyboard Shortcut
Create this script in a plain text file:
Then use Keyboard Shortcuts… to assign Command-I to it (after deleting this shortcut from rarely used Spelling menu item).