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5 Ways of Removing Overrides Applied to Paragraphs


Did you know that there are several different ways to remove overrides applied to styled text? Which one you should use depends on the kind of formatting you want to preserve.

The example below, we have a paragraph of text formatted with just a Body paragraph style (Adobe Caslon Pro, 14pt). There are no character-level or paragraph-level overrides or any character styles applied to the text.

Now, let’s make a bunch of modifications to the formatting:

  • Character-level color overrides applied to words equal and Creator
  • Character styles applied to words Life, Liberty and pursuit of Happiness
  • Paragraph shading and a drop cap applied as paragraph-level overrides
  • Paragraph-level override manually applied to the whole paragraph (Font: Raleway, Font Style: Semibold)

Now let’s see the different options for removing those overrides.

Example 1: Keep local character-level formatting

Goal: Remove paragraph-level formatting overrides, and character-level overrides applied to the whole paragraph. Keep local character-level overrides and any character styles

Action: Click on the paragraph name in Paragraph Styles panel


Example 2: Keep just the character styles

Goal: Remove all manual overrides but preserve any character styles

Action: Click on the Clear Overrides button at the bottom of the Paragraph Styles panel. Alternatively you can Alt/Opt-click on paragraph style name in Paragraph Styles panel


Example 3: Strip everything but the paragraph style

Goal: Remove paragraph-level and character-level formatting overrides, and also remove character styles (reset the paragraph to its base state)

Action: Alt/Opt+Shift-click on paragraph style name in Paragraph Styles panel


Example 4: Keep paragraph-level formatting and character styles

Goal: Remove character-level formatting overrides but preserve paragraph-level formatting overrides and character styles

Action: Ctrl/Cmd-click on Clear Overrides button at the bottom of Paragraph Styles panel


Example 5: Keep all character-level formatting

Goal: Remove all paragraph-level overrides but preserve character-level overrides (even ones applied to the whole paragraph) and character styles

Action: Ctrl/Cmd+Shift-click on Clear Overrides button at the bottom of Paragraph Styles panel


Overriding Options

InDesign offers a lot of methods for removing text formatting overrides. Knowing which one to use in any situation will save you time and effort, and ensure that you end up with the right formatting in the end.

  • Great tips but some of us don’t have the greatest memories for shortcuts. I just checked and right-clicking on the current paragraph style in the paragraph panel does drop down a list with two of those options:

    Apply “Stylename” [this would be just clicking]
    Apply “Stylename”, clear character styles [this would be option-clicking]

    Any chance Adobe might add those other options to that dropdown menu?

  • James Ligi says:

    I’d like to see a feature that clears overrides, and adds character styles for any character level formatting that isn’t already a character style, and if it’s smart enough to see that one is created that matches the character level formatting, it will apply that character style. This would be genius!

  • Piotr Kotela says:

    An excellent script which do the job – removing any character level formatting and chnging it to character style – wrote Jarek Foltman. The script do a lot more fantastic work, but is in polish language. Ask him for sharing at [email protected]
    Perhaps he has an English version.

  • Thanks for that one. Another way of keeping overrides is to search for these formatings and replace them by a character style.
    After that you could use the following script, which I found very useful to clear any paragraph style overrides in a document (leaving untouched the character styles appointed as above).

    myStyles = app.documents[0].allParagraphStyles;
    app.findTextPreferences = app.changeTextPreferences = null;
    //One can start a loop from 0 to include [Basic Paragraph Style]
    for (var n = 1; n < myStyles.length; n++){
    app.findTextPreferences.appliedParagraphStyle = app.changeTextPreferences.appliedParagraphStyle = myStyles[n];
    app.findTextPreferences = app.changeTextPreferences = null;

  • Nicole Marr says:

    Recently I needed to clear overrides from a large amount of a particular paragraph style that is mixed in with other styles. In order to do this quickly, I created a paragraph style called Delete, then used Find/Change to find my body style and replace it with Delete. Then I did the reverse, finding Delete and replacing it with my body style. Voila, all overrides gone.

    • Anne-Marie Concepcion says:

      Nicole, a little-known tip is that if you do a Find/Change for the same paragraph style (just the style, not any text entered into the Find/Change fields), it will do exactly as you describe, removing all overrides just from that style throughout the document.

      • Tina DeJarld says:

        Anne-Marie, that is a fantastic tip! I love the Style Override Highlighter, but didn’t know this is a way to quickly fix them all. I’ve been selecting the text boxes with the selection tool and then clicking the Clear Overrides button. In some situations this Find/Change technique will be better. I do think Adobe should “unhide” this capability and make it an option in Find/Change: Find a style, change to clear overrides.

  • Gregory S Perry says:

    This information is good except with the latest release of InDesign you can no longer do this in the “Essentials” workspace unless you switch to “Essentials Classic”

  • Ruo Pu Koh says:

    After reading this, I remembered reading this article before. Did not remember this was possible or the shortcuts.

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