Creating Character Level Opacity in InDesign
QuarkXPress likes to brag that it can control transparency at the color/character level while InDesign can only control effects on of all of the text, stroke or fill. If you try to change the opacity or add an effect when you have text selected the effects panel will be greyed out.
Create an inline anchored object
Normally when creating outlines of text it is recommended to select the text frame with the selection tool, but if you create outlines of your text while you have it select (type menu > create outlines) it will be come an inline anchored object. This will allow you to now apply whatever effect that you wish to “word or letter” since it is now an object.
Now that the text is an object you can apply effects to the former text (now an object).
Keeping the text editable (In CS4)
The main problem with this creating outlines is that you will no long be able to edit the text. To prevent this from happening you can create a copy of your text and apply a condition and hide it. If you ever need to edit the text you can delete the anchored object and turn on the hidden text to get it back.
Obviously this is not the simplest method for applying effects, but hopefully this will help you out. Maybe on April 12th we will find out that this work around is no longer needed.