Apply Styles from the Keyboard in InDesign

A quick, in-the-weeds-of-book-production post:

I’m an oddity among book authors in that most of my books are written directly into layout. Most people write a manuscript in Microsoft Word or Scrivener or some other word processor, then hand it off to design and production folks who lay it out with styles and artwork in an application such as Adobe InDesign.

I cut my teeth in PageMaker on my high school and college newspapers, and have used QuarkXPress and InDesign since then. For me, it’s easier to work within the layout where I can fix errors right away and write to the space I need. If a paragraph runs too long and spills over to the next page, I can edit it to fit; it doesn’t need two trips to a copyeditor and compositor to accomplish what I can do in less than a minute.

Until last year, I’ve worked mostly using extended keyboards that include a 10-key off to the side. In InDesign, I’d set up keyboard shortcuts to apply paragraph styles quickly: For example, to apply the Body style, I’d press Command-Option-Num 0 (the zero on the number key). But when my last extended keyboard died in the middle of a deadline, I switched to an Apple Wireless Keyboard, which has no 10-key.

I thought I’d be stuck using the mouse to change styles, but then I discovered a fast workaround. In InDesign, press Command-Return to bring up the Quick Apply palette and start typing a style name (either paragraph or character styles).

Indesign quick style

Often just one or two characters will get you in range. For my current book, I often need to apply the “Figure Number-P” character style (which switches to a bold font and reduces the text size), which works like this:

  1. Press Command-Return
  2. Type “f”
  3. Press the down-arrow twice to highlight Figure Number-P
  4. Press Return to apply

I find it’s really fast and doesn’t disrupt the flow of writing.

  1. Yes! Yes! Yes! Quick Apply is da bomb.
    You can also use it to select menu commands, run scripts, and all kinds of other things.


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