Martinho da Gloria (www.automatication.com) has developed a new extension for InDesign called Find/Change Attributes. This extension, enables you to load formatting attributes from selected text into InDesign’s Find/Change dialog box. That’s a handy feature to have for a range of production scenarios, but for me in particular it’s something I use a lot when cleaning up supplied InDesign files for the purpose of template creation or EPUB conversion.
Find/Change Attributes is available in English and has been partially localised in German, French and Dutch (the installer, licensing/activation are in English, but the panel itself is fully localised).
A lot of Finding and Changing…
To cut a long story short… (be warned it’s’ still a long story!) :
I work with the Find/Change command (including the Multi-Find/Change plug-in) a lot.
As part of my work, I receive designed documents from customers, that need converting to InDesign templates or EPUBs. These documents are beautifully designed, but sometimes use little to no styles and contain all sorts of style overrides which the designer has applied as they were tweaking the content. This can mean that for a simple looking body text there might be 5-10 subtle variations throughout the document, none of which have a paragraph style applied to them..
In cleaning up such InDesign documents I find myself running Find/Change regularly. I apply the trick of loading a series of selected attributes found in text, such as font, font size, font style, alignment in the Find Format settings ignoring all the variations – then assigning paragraph styles which I’ve added to the template. However, I need to memorise those attributes and then enable them one by one… which can be quite time consuming.
The Find/Change process doesn’t entirely complete my clean-up process, but it’s a big part of what I use in my clean-up/template creation process. I load the attributes, change the format to a new paragraph style, and ultimately clear any remaining style overrides.
Ok, I admit it I am a bit of a ‘style junkie’. Some might even go as far as to say that I go over the top with style formatting 😉 … but in the end my persistence in doing so, helps me with the production side of things… time spend in preparation is gained back 10x (if not more) during production.
The missing Find/Change feature
I was talking to Martinho about how painful the process is of dotting down those attributes that for example all body text paragraphs have in common, then going into Find/Change and manually inserting them in the Find Format settings. Even though I’ve played with some plug-ins that create styles and scripts, what I’d love to see was:
- An easier way to populate Find/Change with certain Find or Change Format attributes…
And a few days later I got a call from Martinho and he showed me a little extension he’d been working on that would help ease my pain 😉 … a Find/Change Attributes extension that you can add to InDesign that ‘soaks’ up whatever text attributes you like, into the Find or Change Format part of the Find/Change dialog box… Now that’s seriously COOL STUFF!
Using the Find/Change Attributes extension
- Quit InDesign.
- Download the FindChangeAttributes.zip file and extract on your system so you can see the FindChangeAttributes.zxp file.
- Once you see the .zxp file double click it to install it automatically.
- Adobe Extension Manager is launched and follow the prompts to install install the extension.
- The extension will be listed in the extension manager after successful install.
- Quite Extension Manager.
- Relaunch InDesign.
Lets look at a simple document example
So I’ve got a document that makes us of a single paragraph style called ‘Normal’, as I click through the different paragraphs (headers, text, quotes) with the Type tool, the settings for each paragraph indicate that the Normal paragraph style contains a series of overrides…
Even for text that you’d expect to be formatted uniformly such as body text, the settings for tracking, leading, space before, space after vary. For me to apply a new paragraph style to the text I’d need to load only a small collection of attributes (the ones that are least likely to vary across the document) in Find/Change.
So how can Find/Change and Find/Change Attributes extension help me do this?
In the example here, I want to locate and format what I consider to be quote with the ‘quote-text’ paragraph style I’ve added to the document.
I put on my thinking cap and highlight some text in a quote paragraph of the document.
Next I need to think about what it is in the highlighted text that is significant enough for this text being body text. And I think of everything I would want to add to the Find Format section of the Find/Change dialog – Find me everything with
- this font AND font style AND font-size
- this alignment
- left indent setting
Don’t find me:
- Space After or Space before (these vary too much in this document)
- Leading (as that’s tweaked all throughout the document).
Ok armed with this information I’m now ready to populate my Find/Change dialog… THAT used to be hard work… but now that I’ve got the Find/Change Attributes extension it’s a walk in the park…
- Open the Find/Change dialog box (Edit > Find/Change) – Leave this dialog open 🙂
- With your type tool highlight some text in the document for which you’d like to push some attributes into the Find or Change Format settings of the Find/Change dialog box.
💡 To ensure you don’t accidentally highlight text that’s formatted different, you can also just insert your type cursor anywhere in the paragraph. Having text of different formatting highlighted, means that only the very first formatting encountered is added to Find/Change Format later on.
We’re now ready to start the rest of the process…
Locate the installed extension in InDesign.
- From the Window menu choose Find/Change Attributes.
The Find/Change Attributes panel displays.
It’s time to select the ‘find me everything with’ settings.
- From the Formatting Attributes list at the top of the Find/Change Attributes panel select any attribute you’d like to push in to the Find or Change Format settings in the Find/Change dialog box.
Next it is now it’s time to think about the Search Type. The panel supports Text and GREP Find Changes, this means you can load the attributes in either of these in the Find/Change dialog.
Next you need to think of whether you’re looking for the selected attributes as part of Finding something…. (Select Find Format), or whether you are loading attributes into the Change Format.
Ready to Load Attributes
We’re almost ready to load the selected attributes into the Find/Change dialog now… Find/Change Attributes supports Text and GREP Find/Change format loading. We need to now select the Search Type and also where we’d like to load the attributes in the Find Format or Change Format settings of the Find/Change dialog box.
- I’ve selected Search Type: Text, Load Attributes in: Find Format.
❓ Load Attributes button grayed out? Remember the tool is loading attributes from active text, so you MUST have your type cursor inside the text from which you’d like to load the attributes 🙂
Reset Exiting Attributes
If your current Find/Change dialog contains last used settings for Find Format or Change Format… that you’d like to clear before loading new attributes into the Find/Change Format settings:
- Select Reset Existing Attributes.
❗ Not selecting Reset Existing Attributes, will add the selected Format Attributes to what’s already active in Find/Change dialog.
- It’s time to press the Load Attributes button and see the magic happen.
Pretty cool stuff right?
But wait… there is more…
- If suitable in your workflow, you can load to the Find Format, then Change Format part of the Find/Change dialog box.
- Change the Load Attributes In setting from Find Format to Change Format (or vise versa) and add that additional information to the Find/Change dialog. Even with Reset Existing Attributes enabled, if you swap from Find to Change Format the previously loaded attributes are retained.
Now do I hear you say… It would be really cool if I could save commonly used Formatting Attributes as a Set? Well… you can 😉
Formatting Attribute Sets
To prevent yourself from having to set the same attributes regularly, you can save frequently used attribute sets.
Save a New Set
- From the Find/Change Attributes panel menu, choose New Set…
- Type the name of the set in the Save Set dialog box and click Save.
Use previously Saved Set
To reuse a set you’ve saved earlier:
- Select the set name from the Find/Change Attributes panel menu.
All Attributes part of the set reload and you can now Load these Attributes into Find/Change again if your Type cursor is inserted in text somewhere.
Delete a Set
Too many sets? Or sets you no longer use? To delete a set:
- From the Find/Change Attributes panel menu, choose Delete Set…
- Select the Set you want to delete from the list of sets and click Delete OR
- Select All to delete all sets.
Ok, I feel I’ve just written a novel, if you got to the end… than a big thank you for reading all the way through 🙂 I hope Martinho’s new extension will be of as much use for you as it is for me.