Design with Style:
A Beginning Guide to InDesign Style Sheets

(This exercise will be posted in stages. It was originally published in FatBits...a long time ago and has been recently updated)

About styles
(from the InDesign Help file)

A character style is a collection of character formatting attributes that can be applied to text in a single step. A paragraph style includes both character and paragraph formatting attributes, and can be applied to a selected paragraph or range of paragraphs. When you change the formatting of a style, all text to which the style has been applied will be updated with the new format.

By default, each new document contains a [Basic Paragraph] style that is applied to text you type. You can edit this style, but you can’t rename or delete it. You can rename and delete styles that you create. You can also select a different default style to apply to text.
Paragraph styles and character styles are found on separate palettes.

Style sheets don’t need to be complicated, and I’ll show you how, with just a little planning, a document like a menu that has several different type styles one after another, can go together as easily as typing a, b, c! If you’ve used Microsoft Word style sheets, InDesign Paragraph Styles and Character styles work much the same way.

Thai Menu


Set up style sheets

One approach to setting up style sheets is to set up the formats from within the style sheet dialog. That’s usually awkward, because you’ve probably already formatted sample text to see what it looks like.

If you already have formatted text, you can assign styles “by example.” If you are entering type directly in InDesign, you can take advantage of the program’s “next style” feature. This nifty device allows you to type freely, and on each new paragraph, signified by pressing the “return” key, the formatting automatically changes to a new and different pre-specified style. Using “Next Styles” makes a complicated typesetting job like the Thai menu no more difficult than entering the type.

Copy and Paste

Use this text for the Menu exercise.

sweet & sour fish 9.95
Deep Fried whole Pomfret in Sweet & Sour Sauce
jessica fish 9.95
Deep Fried Whole Pomfret Smothered in Special Pork Sauce
chili sauce fish 9.95
Deep Fried Whole Pomfret Smothered with Thai Curry
garlic shrimp 5.95
Bedded with Lettuce
chili past shrimp 5.95
With Bell Pepper, Onion & Peanuts
chili mint squid & shrimp 9.95
chili mint clam 6.95
Sauteed with Egg, Onion & Indian Curry
green bean (ck. pk or beef) 4.95
red curry beef 4.95
yellow curry chicken 4.95
“Kang Karee”
cat fish curry 5.95
Deep Fried Catfish
pineapple shrimp curry 5.95
With Pineapple