Find/Change Objects and Attributes in InDesign CS3
Among many exciting new and improved features in InDesign CS3, the totally re-imagined Find/Change function is among my favorite top five. The first time I opened the Find/Change dialog I was literally stunned into silence (shutting me up is not an easy task). What about it could possibly silence, even for a moment, this opinionated and prolifically verbose sermonizer of divine Creativity and Creative Efficiency? Only one thing: a new feature of a prime creative tool that can save hours, days, even weeks of manual labor for thousands of my fellow creatives. (Actually, there are two things, but I don’t think we should discuss my fiancé in this particular post.)
Tell me if anything about the following scenario sounds familiar. You receive (or create) a publication layout in an InDesign document. Let’s say there are 64 pages filled with text frames, placed assets in graphic frames, vector objects drawn within InDesign, and so on; many of those objects have strokes, fill colors, blending modes, opacity settings, text wraps, and maybe even new, CS3 Photoshop-like effects. Unfortunately, many of those objects are styled incorrectly. Maybe the document was a team effort and the workgroup didn’t adhere to a strict style guide, maybe everything was correct, but the client requested a sweeping change of some object formatting option throughout document. Making changes should be easy if every affected object was assigned an Object Style, but rarely is every object in a layout given an Object Style, even when created by the most fastidious of designers. Faced with one or more object formatting changes across the entire document, you’re probably already reaching for the phone to cancel your plans for the night, the weekend, and perhaps the next few weekends.
Adobe created the new Object tab in InDesign CS3’s Find/Change dialog specifically to save your weekends and evenings. It enables you to replace object formatting options?everything I mentioned above and more?literally in seconds whereas doing it manually could take hours, days, or weeks. That, my friend, is what stilled my tongue.
Using Object Find/Change
Accessed from Edit > Find/Change, the new Find/Change dialog is a complete rewrite of the relatively simply text substitution version in CS2. The Text tab itself has been vastly improved, and new GREP expression search and Glyph replacement tabs have been added. Also new is the last tab, Object (see Figure 1). You can search in the current document or all opened documents for just about any visual or structural formatting attribute that can be applied to any object, and, if desired, remove or replace that attribute with another.
The initial interface is fairly simple and typical of any text replacement tool. You have fields for the search criteria, the replacement criteria, and options that expand or refine the search. The Search dropdown menu offers two options: find only in the current document, or across all opened documents, the latter of which enables you to, say, replace everything in an entire book. In the Type dropdown, you can choose to search only on text frames, graphic frames, frames with unassigned content (e.g. vector objects drawn in InDesign), or across all frames. Beneath those, five toggle buttons offer the ability to include in the search …
- Locked layers, but only for Find, Change can’t touch the contents of locked layers;
- Locked stories, also for Find only;
- Hidden layers;
- Master pages, and;
Choosing the formatting options to find and/or change from the magnifying-glass-over-frame button is very much like choosing the options for Object Styles (see Figure 2). Just pick the attribute(s) to search for, and the attributes to replace, add, or remove. Even if the objects do have Object Styles assigned, you can easily replace one Object Style with another from the Style Options pane. Or choose attributes in Fill, Stroke, Stroke & Corner, Text Frame General Options, Text Frame Baseline Options (text baselines are now in CS3 a per-frame attribute), Story Options, Text Wrap & Other (the Other being a nonprinting attribute), Anchored Object Options, and Frame Fitting Options. Beneath that, the Effects section mirrors the new Photoshop-like attribute-level transparency effects, with the ability to find opacity and blending mode, drop shadow, inner shadow, outer glow, inner glow, bevel and emboss, satin, basic feather, directional feather, and gradient feather on whole objects or just their fills, strokes, or the text within them (in the case of text frames). Any attribute can be found and replaced wholesale or simply refined?say, to alter the angle of drop shadows by 2-degrees.
After choosing your options, hit OK and then Find or Change All. Blink, and it’s done. Imagine what you can do with this power! Alter object formatting across one or a hundred pages in one or a hundred documents, with the click of a button! I don’t know about you, but I’ve had to do that manually, one object, one page, at a time. Such manual tasks are tedious enough to make one contemplate sepuku. With the InDesign CS3 Find/Change object formatting… Well, there isn’t even time to say sepuku. Not that I could say much of anything when I first tried it out.