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Making Based On Object Styles in InDesign


InDesign’s style features are not entirely consistent in how they work — paragraph styles work slightly differently than character styles, which work differently than table styles… and then there’s object styles, which seem to play by their own rules sometimes. I was reminded of this recently when someone asked in our forums about why the “Based On” feature doesn’t seem to work for object styles. However, it does work… it just doesn’t work as cleanly or as obviously as the “Based On” feature in paragraph styles.

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David Blatner is the co-founder of the Creative Publishing Network, InDesign Magazine, and the author or co-author of 15 books, including Real World InDesign. His InDesign videos at LinkedIn Learning ( are among the most watched InDesign training in the world. You can find more about David at
  • Katherine Burgener says:

    Huh, that is interesting. I have definitely created object styles that were based on others without doing this. But I might have been creating an object first, making Style 1 from it, and then selecting an object with Style 1 applied and creating Style 2 from it. Changes to Style 1 then cascade as expected, at least for me!

    • Mike Rankin says:

      Yup. That’s how I do it, too. Select an object with the “parent” style, hold option/alt-click on the new style button and make the changes you want in the “child” style. Just gotta make sure that Apply Style to Selection is unchecked in General options.

  • Civi Bernath says:

    I don’t see why you say the object styles act differently. If nothing is selected, a new style will take all the default settings. If text is selected, the new style sheet will have those attributes. And if an object is selected when making an object style, the style will also have the attributes of the selected object. But if nothing is selected, the object style will of course have the default settings.

    • David Blatner says:

      The main difference is that you don’t have to click Reset to Base when making a paragraph style based on another. It just works.

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