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Clear the Color in a Character Style Back to Ignore

David wrote:

Say I created a character style, and during the course of my work a color was accidentally selected (let's say black). Is there any way to set it back to ?? (ignore) without recreating the character style?

Haven't you committed every one of the past 97 podcasts to heart, David? I mean, jeez, we covered that little nugget of a tip back in Episode 64. I'm kidding of course. As we're about to publish our 98th podcast (where did the time fly?) I can barely remember what we covered.

So here's the trick: Command/Ctrl-click on the color.

This works because Command/Ctrl-clicking adds or removes something from a list. Any list. If you have a list of 10 paragraph styles, you can Command/Ctrl-click on 3 of them (they don't have to be next to each other), then deselect one by Command/Ctrl-clicking on it.

So in this case, you can Command/Ctrl-click on the color to deselect it from the list, leaving you with nothing in the list, which = "Ignore."

David Blatner
David Blatner is the co-founder of the Creative Publishing Network, InDesign Magazine, and the author or co-author of 15 books, including Real World InDesign. His InDesign videos at are among the most watched InDesign training in the world. You can find more about David at
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27 Comments on “Clear the Color in a Character Style Back to Ignore

  1. Wow, that got confusing…

    You actually mean the little question mark. which means it keeps whatever the colour is set to at the time of applying the style.

    I had to go and recreate it just understand. As I didn’t know what “Ignore” meant in this case…

  2. Good one David (had to check the author there). Yes I some how forget this often, even though I know that ctrl/cmd click anywhere deselects something, it’s just not memorable in that instance.

    Wouldn’t it be nice to have an “Ignore” swatch though.

  3. What I mean there is that when you’re in the Paragraph Styles and select None it goes to the “ignore”

    But character styles goes to the box with a stroke through it.

    Why is that?

  4. I’m sorry, I’m not getting this at all. I created a paragraph style with a color applied. I command – click on the color in the list that I’ve opened via “style options” and nothing happens. What am I doing wrong?

  5. Ok, now… how do you do the same thing to the Font Family in the Character Style panel? Let’s say I’ve set it to Adobe Garamond Pro but I want to go back and set it back to nothing?

  6. @Christopher: Great question; it’s not obvious until you try it once: Just select the text and delete it. The field becomes blank, which is the same as “ignore.”

    • This one of the great Indesign mysteries that have daunted me since I started using indesign. Thank you so much! It felt like i have reached Indesign enlightenment!

  7. @Nagaraj

    You have to select “None” in the paragraph style. It gives the the same proxy image as the ignore for some reason – at least for me it did.

    If you have the character style set to Ignore and the Paragraph style set to None/Ignore then your text won’t have any colour.

    There is a post on InDesign secrets (that I can’t find at the moment) that explains the relationship of the character colour with the paragraph style and which one gets higher priority than the other.

    I’m sure the hosts can find the posts – I can’t seem to find them – hmm…

  8. Wait a minute: Ignore in a character style is very different than None in a paragraph style! None means “don’t fill at all — make it transparent text.” Ignore means “don’t change the color from whatever the underlying paragraph style is.

    There is no way to set the paragraph style to Ignore because paragraph styles always apply all their attributes. (Though sometimes local formatting overrides those definitions.) But character styles can apply or ignore any attribute.

  9. Sorry David, I don’t know where I got that from? Burning the candle at both ends must lead to halucinations.

    Thanks for clearing that up. I could have sworn the Paragraph Swatch symbol changed to a “?” with a line through it when I tried it. But it clearly doesn’t now.

  10. David:
    “@Christopher: Great question; it?s not obvious until you try it once: Just select the text and delete it. The field becomes blank, which is the same as ?ignore.?

    Ok, I’ve wrestled with this one in the past and given up. But if you say it can be done, then I know I’m doing something wrong. I highlight the words “Adobe Garamond Pro” and hit DELETE… it doesn’t get rid of the font, but instead resets it to “Arial”, which is the first font in my list of fonts. So I do this a few times and I’m starting to pull my hair out… until I realize… you are probably using a Mac… and on a Mac, the Backspace key is (stupidly) called “Delete”… so you are probably hitting THAT key, NOT the other Delete key… so on my PC, I highlight the font name again and hit the “Backspace” key, and boom, the font is gone.

    Just a little Mac -> PC translation required, but I got it :D

  11. If in Character Style I want to ignore language parameter, I can’t get rid of it neither with ctrl/cmd click nor by deleting the name of language.
    Selecting [No Language] in the beginning of the list is not exactly what I want.
    Fortunately, the list of languages has opposite end: it ends up with nice good [Ignore] option!

  12. Oh, what a nugget of a tip, indeed! Man I could have used this many times over cleaning up someone else’s templates. ;-)

  13. This doesn’t work for me.

    I’m using InDesign CS4 on the Mac, and trying to remove the color Purple from a Character Style, because i want the Character Style to pick up the color from the Paragraph Style.

    I [Command] Click on the color, it gives me the question mark as if it has worked and the color’s are ignored, i hit OK to close the dialog.

    I then re-open the Character Style and it’s switched itself back to Purple in color! what gives?

    It’s like it works, but then doesn’t save the setting and just defaults back to what it was before. Am i missing something?

  14. @James: That is really weird. Is the character style based on another style? You may have to export as INX/IDML and reopen to clear out document crud? Make sure you really are clicking OK to accept the change and not somehow undoing the change…

    • Dear David, what’s up?
      I’ve just did that, on CS 6 CC, and I have the same result. While i’m inside the dialog box, it becomes a question mark, after I hit OK and reopen the style, it changed back to the color it was before (paper in my case)
      Perhaps this is a bug?
      Good Weekend,
      Shlomit :)

  15. Hmmmm, it appears that a reboot of my Mac was all that was needed – or a reboot of InDesign perhaps. Yesterday it would not work on any of my character styles, this morning i tried again and it worked. I wonder why it would do that?
    I guess the moral of the story is “if in doubt, reboot” !

  16. @Christopher March 8th, 2009: I know it’s a late reply, but I just ran into this myself and thought I’d share how to remove a font setting in a character style: first select the content of the field you want to empty (Font Family, Font Style, Size, Leading and Tracking) and then right-click (or command-click if you’re suffering from Mac-itis) in the field and choose “delete” from the pop-up menu. That’ll empty the field.

  17. This is all great, and I discovered (CS6) that by cmd clicking on the color it changes to ???. What I need is a character style that tints all colors to 70%. Can I set a tint with ??? and ?? for both the fill and stroke?

  18. I’m coming to this late but this is fantastic! Thank you! I knew there had to be a way to do this but I have resorted to re-creating the character style just to get back to the “ignore” color setting. Not only have you saved me time, you’ve made me happy!

  19. You mention why this doesn’t work with Paragraph Styles, but Paragraph Styles can be based on other Paragraph Styles. I was trying to set the text color in [Basic Paragraph] then have a bunch of other Paragraph Styles simply inherit it. Is there a way to have that happen? Thanks!

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