InDesign – Setting Defaults

Ever wish you could make that new text box have a certain style applied to it? Or maybe you’re constantly re-aligning that stroke to the inside, day in, and day out. Well, Indesign comes shipped with a fairly blank set up of defaults, and they remain that way for most people who use it. Some things are always off when you need them on, or things are always on when you would rather them off, it”s a matter of personal preference. But, if you find you prefer something one way and not the other, defaulting indesign could potentially save you tonnes of time: In newspaper production, and in production in general, where design follows a strict style guide, setting defaults to match your guide can literally save HOURS.

  1. Setting Global Defaults

    The first is a global default, where every NEW document created after the defaulting will contain all the new defaults. Your old documents will also pick up these defaults, but only if there are none set already. To being, close all documents, so you”re looking at Indesign with absolutely nothing open. Any modifications you make right now will set new defaults. Try defaulting a stroke (in the Stroke dialogue) to 1pt solid black, or defaulting your font (in the Character dialogue) to Myriad. My favourite is to default the swatch list to my most common colours – I tend to keep around 20 swatches that I know our press can handle well. I also like to turn OFF hyphenation in my Paragraph dialogue box, so that I can choose when I want it on.Another common option is to set default page specs. You can do this by saving a new preset in your New Document dialogue box:


    In this example I merely zeroed out the margins, but you can modify this to suit your projects. When you are done, hit the Save Preset button. You will see your Document Preset updates to the new preset. All you have to do now is hit Ok, then close the document. Now, when you start a new document, your new preset will be the default.

  2. Setting Local Defaults

    The second is a local default, where your defaults are specific to the current document. This is where you can really go crazy and set defaults for a template file for the most common elements in your style guide without risking every new document having those same defaults. So long as your next issue is pulled from the template, all your defaults will be the same, week in and week out. To start defaulting, deselect everything, by clicking off any objects, or simply selecting Edit > Deselect All (Shit + Option A). Any modifications you make at this point will set new defaults. Try defaulting your frames with an object style, or defaulting your new text boxes to your “Body” style. Maybe you want to change your stroke, text colour, or fill to a default?

    Remember, when you are done defaulting, quit InDesign. Only when InDesign shuts down does it actually save your preferences – so if you crash, you could potentially lose your work, AND your defaults!