In my opinion, one of the marks of a professional graphic designer is consistency.
It is so important to make sure that fonts, colors, and design elements are consistent throughout a project, but also across an entire company brand. Design consistency gives a feeling of familiarity and provides the consumer something to recognize about your products or services.
When Adobe InDesign was introduced in the Creative Suite in 2002, it came with a bundle of new features that helped designers ensure consistency across documents. One of the easiest ways to do this was to use Adobe styles.
In most of the graphics programs in the Adobe Creative Suite — including Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator — there are multiple panels referring to style. An Adobe style is simply a package of style information that can easily be applied to your document objects.
In Adobe InDesign, there are separate panels for character styles, paragraph styles, table styles, cell styles and more. Each of these is intended to help you create the style and then easily deploy it as needed.
By connecting all of your relevant objects to the style, you can easily make one change to the style definition and it can be re-applied to all associated items. For example, a paragraph style may contain the font, spacing and alignment information for different types of paragraphs.
This concept alone can save you hours of tedious cleanup work. It also reduces human error and guarantees that all similar elements have the same appearance. However, these concepts can be taken to a much higher level.
Adobe InDesign also has a way to create a pattern of styles throughout your project. For example, many print documents follow a familiar flow to organize the content. You may have a header, followed by a sub-heading, a first paragraph with an interesting design for the first line of text, and then subsequent body paragraphs.
A feature of a style called Next Style allows you to set up an order for styles to follow. All you would have to do is set the style of header and then tell InDesign to flow the Next Style to ensure the remaining styles follow from there.
Each style will remain connected to the source to allow for quick changes and consistency.
There are far too many other-style related features and time-saving tricks than I can mention in this short column. I hope you try to use styles in your Creative Suite projects and find new ways to become more efficient with your design work.
[Originally posted in the Coloradoan on 5/9/2014]