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 new Find/Change dialog’s Object tab.

The new Find/Change dialog’s Object tab.

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;
  • Footnotes.

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.

Every object formatting option is open to replacement in the Object Format Options dialogs.

Every object for­mat­ting option is open to replace­ment in the Object Format Options dialogs.

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.

Pariah Burke

Author, consultant, trainer, guru: Digital Publishing, ePub, InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, Quark. Empowering, Informing, Connecting Creative Professionals™