TypeTalk: Hidden Secrets of InDesign’s Find/Change

TypeTalk is a regular blog on typography. Post your questions and comments by clicking on the Comments icon above. If Ilene answers your question in the blog, you’ll receive one Official Creativepro.com T-Shirt!

Q. I’m tired of manually cleaning up text formatting in InDesign: replacing dumb quotes, double word spaces, double hyphens, and the like. Even with Find/Change, it takes too long. Is there a faster way?

A. Yes, using InDesign’s Find/Change (Command/Control-F) manually is a bit tedious. The better method lies in the Query pop-up menu at the top of the Find/Change dialog box (Figure 1).

Figure 1. The Query pop-up menu is at the top of InDesign’s Find/Change panel.

Here you can access some of the most commonly used Find/Change searches, which InDesign then conducts automatically (Figure 2).

Figure 2. Many common search options are located in the Query pop-up menu, shown below, which can be real time-savers.

When you select one of those options, the tab below the Query pop-up menu changes from Text to GREP (short for General Regular-Expression Print). It’s a script shortcut that search for patterns in type.

If you can’t find what you’re looking for under Query, check the pull-down menu under the @ symbol to the right of the Find and Change field, where you will find dozens of symbols and search options (Figure 3).

Figure 3. Many symbols, characters, and actions can be found under the Find and Change pop-up menus accessed by clicking the @ icon.

You can save a Find/Change search by clicking on the diskette icon to the right of Query. Then your custom query will appear in the pop-up menu.

Love type? Want to know more? Ilene Strizver conducts her acclaimed Gourmet Typography workshops internationally. For more information on attending one or bringing it to your company, organization, or school, go to her site, call The Type Studio at 203-227-5929, or email Ilene at info@thetypestudio.com. Sign up for her e-newsletter at www.thetypestudio.com.

Posted on: December 10, 2009

Ilene Strizver

Ilene Strizver, founder of The Type Studio, is a typographic consultant, designer, writer and educator specializing in all aspects of visual communication, from the aesthetic to the technical. Her book, Type Rules! The designer’s guide to professional typography, 4th edition, has received numerous accolades from the type and design community.

7 Comments on TypeTalk: Hidden Secrets of InDesign’s Find/Change

  1. I’ve used ID for years… never tried the Query box. Never really noticed it. This was a great time saving tip! Thanks.

  2. Thank you for streamlining my edits. I blush to admit I never got around to investigating some of the things that would give me more speed and power.

  3. Were it not for great help such as this essay on InDesign search for typography oversights that might be one more “tool” that Adobe has in their suites that get lost in the huge number of “things to do if you could only remember they exist.” I’m uncertain how this problem could be fixed. InDesign’s PreFlight is a good example of a single command doing a lot of chores, some unexpected and most welcome.

    I spent a lot of time last week seeking some more sophisticated table commands and the use of STYLES with table. There isn’t much in the huge literature of how-to-do-it-with-Adobe. Google found one — in Adobe’s own tutorials — but it was elementary and disappointing. I want varied size cells that might not allow orderly columns. If you can’t do that, why not? Perhaps it can be done without being a table but there are LOTS of reasons to keep the usual table strengths if it could be freed from straight column sides.

    Oh well, Creative Pro always comes up with something that, in fact, I had missed but do want to use. Thank you.

  4. Hi,

    For the initial problem (clean up text), you can use the script FindChangeByList. To have explanation about it, listen InDesignSecrets Postcast 90 or read it here : http://indesignsecrets.com/podcast-90-transcript.
    Laurent Tournier

  5. Ilene, great to see the word about GREP finally getting around.

    I’ve been a great fan of regular expressions for a couple of decades 😉 both as a programmer and as a designer who deals with highly structured documents (or ones that should be but aren’t quite!)

    ID CS4 has a wonderful addition to the Paragraph Styles definition window.

    “Grep Styles” allow you to define a regular expression which when it matches will apply the assigned Character style to the matched string… So, say I’m a big fan (also) of dropping the height of hypens and dashes by a point or so. In typical text fonts, the dashes (Em, En, hyphen) are designed to run at the x-height of the font, which is fine when they’re used with ALL-CAPS or 1789-89 (numbers), but in body-copy, they will often be too high.

    I first need a Character Style which I’ll call “Dash-Hypen”, where I define a “Baseline shift” of -1.0 pt which I’ll apply to the ‘class’ of ‘dashes’.

    Then in my Paragraph style (perhaps for Body Text, or even Default) I select “Grep Style” and make a new Grep Style, selecting “Dash-Hypen” to match a set of all the dashes [~_~=~~~–]

    The square brackets mean that any one of the characters within will match, rather than a string consisting of all of them. The real advantage here is that you can set this once, and both existing text and new copy will all have the same styles applied.

    With a grep search, as you describe, you’ll have to remember to run it again after adding new content!

    Try it with quotes, etc!

    I’ll post this note on ideaswords.com also!



    ideaswords.com – Semiotx

    slowprint.com – Letterpress

    Here’s a link to Adobe’s IDCS4 Docs on GREP Styles http://bit.ly/7j2SlY

  6. Brilliant. I never knew about all the hidden places to look. What a help.

  7. I can’t believe I never investigated that drop down list. It would’ve saved me a bundle of time and boredom. THANK YOU!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.