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Training Courses on Adobe InDesign Must Cover Styles

Jul 21, 2008
All InDesign training courses should include coverage of the use of styles to improve workflow and maintain consistency within a document and across several documents. Most computer users have some familiarity with what styles are: named formats which can be applied to your text as an alternative to manually applying each formatting attribute individually. Even users new to InDesign will probably have encountered styles in Microsoft Word: "Heading 1", "Heading2", "Normal", etc. However, InDesign's use of styles is much more sophisticated and we always ensure, when we run InDesign training courses in London, that we emphasise their importance.

The salient benefits of using styles are, firstly, consistency: the same formats are faithfully applied each time without variations accidentally occurring. Secondly, rapidity: if a heading needs six formatting attributes applied then, without the use of styles, you will have to apply all your attributes manually. If you use a style, you can apply the text formatting with one click or a single keystroke. A third benefit is the ability to change the appearance of your text simply by changing the definition of your styles.

A less obvious advantage to using styles in InDesign is what might be termed scalability. Styles figure prominently in some of the program's advanced techniques and documents that have no styles cannot benefit from these features. For example, a main aspect of creating XML-based layouts, is that of mapping XML tags to styles to document styles.

A second example is the creation of tables of contents. InDesign creates tables of contents based on the use of styles. In designing the table of contents, one specifies which styles are to be included. When the table of contents is generated, InDesign finds each piece of text in that style and places the appropriate page number next to it.

In fact, the table of contents feature is more flexible than the name suggests since it can be used to produce a list of anything within a document where a particular style has been used consistently. For example, if every image in a document has a caption formatted with a particular style, the table of contents facility can be used to produce a list of images.

A third example of the advanced use of styles is when working with books; a feature which enables multiple InDesign documents to be treated as one entity for such operations as preflighting, printing and the production of tables of contents. Different users can work on each document within the book and the styles used within all documents can be streamlined by a process called synchronisation.

Because of its importance, we cover styles both on our basic InDesign training courses and on or advanced InDesign training as well. On our advanced courses, we explain the use of such features as nested styles whereby a character style can be included within a paragraph style and automatically applied to certain characters within the paragraph; for example, all characters up to the first occurrence of a colon or an em dash.
About the Author
Author is a developer and trainer with Macresource Computer Solutions, an independent computer training company offering Adobe InDesign training courses in London and throughout the UK.
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