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Creating Paragraph Styles in Adobe InDesign

written by: cscribe2180•edited by: Daniel P. McGoldrick•updated: 1/22/2010

Learn how to designate specific paragraph styles for the headings, body, sidebars, or any other text portion of your Adobe InDesign document for a quicker, easier design process.

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    Why Create Paragraph Styles?

    Polished, professional print documents are easy to spot: they are pleasant to look at, easy to read and digest, and they grab the attention of their intended audiences. One of the biggest reasons why is the most obvious, yet most often overlooked attribute of the document: its fonts.

    One of the most crucial aspects of creating clean documents involves the consistent use of one, two or, at the very most, three fonts throughout the entire document. Rarely would the average reader pick up on this subtlety, but rest assured they would if you failed to follow this rule. While it is acceptable to use different variations of the same font (bold, italic, different sizes, etc.), a document cluttered with numerous fonts is a surefire way to leave readers disinterested and confused by the lack of continuity.

    Adobe InDesign allows you to designate character styles using the font variations of your choice and automatically apply those styles to the text of your choosing within your document.

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    How to Create Paragraph Styles in Adobe InDesign

    Open Adobe InDesign and create a new document.

    In the upper right corner of the document, you should find a palette with a "paragraph styles tab." Click on this tab, then click on the "new paragraph style" button in the lower right corner of the palette box. This will add an undefined paragraph style to the list.

    Double-click on the undefined paragraph style to open the "paragraph style options" window. In this window, you will be able to define the paragraph style by name and alter it to numerous specifications using the tab list on the left side of the window. Some features of note:

    The "basic character formats" tab defines the font, its size, style, tracking leading and more.

    Use the tabs for indents and spacing, tabs and paragraph rules to designate the look of the paragraph, from the indentation of the first paragraph line to how far apart lines and letters should be spaced.

    Use the "hyphenation" tab to designate whether you'd like words to be hyphenated when they extend to the next line, or the "justification" tab to automatically space words within paragraphs to uniformly align each paragraph line.

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    Applying Paragraph Styles in Your Adobe InDesign Document

    Once your paragraph styles are defined and designated, they are always within reach on the paragraph styles palette. To apply these styles, simply highlight the desired text and click on the paragraph style of your choice to automatically outfit the text with that style.

Adobe InDesign Tutorials

Adobe InDesign is one of the best desktop publishing programs on the market today. In this series of articles, we'll take a look at this desktop publishing software and offer tips and tricks to help you make quality print products like the pros.
  1. An Introduction to the Adobe InDesign Tutorial Series
  2. Setting Up Your Adobe InDesign Document
  3. Using the Adobe InDesign Tool Palette
  4. Creating Paragraph Styles in Adobe InDesign
  5. A Guide to Working with Images in Adobe InDesign