How can we improve InDesign?

Allow multiple character styles to be applied to characters

Allow multiple character styles to be applied to one character.
There should be an »appearance« panel as in Illustrator, which reflects the hierarchy of multiple applied character styles to one character/a text.

This would ease the work with XML and reduce the number of character styles needed. Nowadays you have to trick with GREP styles etc. to apply multiple character styles to one character.
With such a feature, I could define »italic« and »bold« and has no need to define »bold italic«. This will even end up in better HTML export: instead of <span class="BoldItalic">blabl</span> there could be the much better <strong><em>blablabl</em></strong> output.

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Tobias Wantzen shared this idea  ·   ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →

11 comments

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  • Keith Conover, M.D., FACEP commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    Just ran into a situation where I wanted a heading to have a character style that's picked up by a header and highlight it in yellow and found out it can't be both. Sigh. Agree this would be a great improvement.

  • Tobias Wantzen commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    Phantom, as I wrote in my feature request: There should be an »appearance« panel, as you have in Illustrator, which shows the hierarchy of the applied styles. The higher style wins.

  • Grant commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    Quite simple, actually. Have conflicts in character styles apply in order of application (e.g., if cs1 applies bold and cs2 applies semibold, bold will apply, given that cs1 is higher priority) and have a warning symbol appear when such conflicts exist, akin to overridden styles., with a contextual option to remove overridden styles.

  • Phantom Steve commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    I like this - but how do you prevent the application of conflicting Character Styles ?
    For example - how do you prevent the user applying a CS for Condensed Bold and a CS for Extended Bold at the same time ?

  • Ulrich Dirr commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    While preparing a book for print it is also useful to have this feature when fine-tuning paragraph make-up. Just think of adding a CF for "no hyphenation" but the word already has "italics" applied.

  • Dan Niemi commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    Are there any workarounds that anyone knows of to achieve something like this?
    I work in one brand all the time, so I'd love to set up shortcuts to apply a specific color, and another to apply a specific font without overriding the other, and without creating styles for each combination.

  • Tobias Wantzen commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    Absolutely agree to Evan! Paragraph styles should work like CSS! In my eyes it is time for a new area of working with styles. Nothing changed here since the 1990s. The endless possibilities of CSS outstands this old model by far!

  • Evan commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    Absolutely need this!!! And I'll go further and say the same thing for paragraph styles. So tired of creating so many rigid, repetitive styles for things like [Body] [Body Indented] [Body Shaded] [Body Shaded + Indented]. Would be so much better to create simple global styles for commonly-used attributes like [Intented] [Shaded] and be able to ADD them to any other applied style. It should work exactly like CSS — we can have a paragraph with multiple classes applied, and whenever a conflict exists, the most-recently-applied style overrides the others.

  • Scott Falkner commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    So much this. Indesign can already apply multiple character styles, as you noted. So at least some of the feature exists.

    Back in the late 1980s there was a program called Ready, Set, Go! that could do this. The implementation was powerful but clunky an unintuitive. Styles could include any feature, or leave any feature blank and there was no distinction between character and paragraph styles. This is much like how Character Styles work in InDesign, but not Paragraph Styles. In a Paragraph Style all attributes are included. But in RSG a style might include only the font. Another might include only leading. Another might include only point size. You body copy might be formatted with several styles. Changing leading globally could be done by just changing the Leading style. It was complicated, and I don’t think there was a way to make a composite style, so many styles would have to be applied where now you just use one style. I think it also didn’t handle conflicts well, so you really needed to plan things out.

    I only played with it, since we already had PageMaker, FreeHand, and QuarkXPress and I didn’t need another program that nobody was using. I remember thinking it had potential, and InDesign’s Character Styles work similarly, in that they only apply what you want (just colour, just underlining, etc.).

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