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I don't know about anyone else, but I try to use typefaces that match the document I'm creating. A grungy gothic font is my usual choice for something for Halloween. Script fonts with lots of flourishes are what I use for formal invitation/certificate type documents. You get the picture. But what happens when I realize that I have too much text to fit on a single page, but not enough to fit on two pages? And the text is in separate boxes. Or I don't like the typeface? This is when paragraph styles, especially nested styles, can come in handy.

Paragraph styles can simplify your text formatting chores, especially for long documents. They can be a bit of a hassle to create, but once done, they can save time and headaches. Those of you who wrote articles for MacNews know that Terry designed a template in Microsoft Word that had specific styles that corresponded to the styles he used for the newsletter in InDesign. Using those styles meant that Terry had less cleanup work when the individual articles were placed.

I generally start with my basic Body Style. This is what the majority of the text will look like. This style will have the typeface, point size, line spacing, amount of indent and any other formatting, depending on the application you are using. With a page layout program like InDesign, the next step is to create the rest of the styles that work around the basic text body. 




My next style would be what I call Normal or 1st P. It is "Based on" Body, just without the indent. The first paragraph of a document, section or chapter is generally not indented. No, it's not the law of the land, but it is what you will see in most books, magazines and newspapers. It will be "Followed by" Body. This means that when you hit the return and go to the next paragraph, you will automatically have that indented paragraph. Create styles for whatever you need, including things like lists that need tab stops. Hassle now, save time later.



Once you have your document finished, stop and look at the overall appearance. Did you use a typeface that looked great for a single line but is making your eyes cross at an entire page? Go back to that initial style definition and change the typeface to something else, and every style based on it will also change. Have it set to 12 point and you have an inch of text that runs to the next page? Change the main style to 11 points, and watch it magically flow into the required amount of space. 

Take the time to play with and learn to use paragraph styles. You can get by without them on simple documents, but get into multiple pages, and they will make life much easier. 

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