I'm looking for more ways to automate text styling in the magazine I produce. In InDesign, I can assign find/replace command strings in the Find/Change GREP window, but I've found no online source that tells me how to find/replace characters using GREP WITHIN a p style. It seems as if the latter GREP capability is limited to changing character styles and can't search and replace actual characters.
Example: I have a list of recipe ingredients. I want to replace the quantity (one to three digits) at the beginning of each ingredient with a tab-digit(s)-tab combination. In Find/Change, I can enter "\d+\s" and replace with "\t$0\t" but I don't see a way to assign that capability to a p style. I want this find/change to occur automatically any time copy is added to text tagged with the Recipe Ingredients paragraph style, so I don't have to keep running a Find/Change each time we edit the page. One power user has told me it's not possible. Any insight or alternative solution would be much appreciated.
Your power source has it right, GREP Styles can only apply character styles to the text it finds.
And there is no easy way to have text replaced automatically -- you would still need to run a script, or press a hotkey or something.