Make an Object Style specify frame width

A request that I hear often is the ability to specify the width and height of a frame as part of an Object Style. Perhaps you’re using separate frames for pull quotes in the sidebar area of a magazine, and you want all these frames to be the same width. The trouble is, the Object Style Options dialog box has no controls for specifying frame dimensions…or does it? It turns out there’s a pretty slick way to specify the width of a frame (but not the height) as part of an object style.

Choose Text Frame General Options in the Object Style Options dialog box, and choose Fixed Column Width, and then specify the width you want your frame to be in the Column Width field.

Now, just create a text frame on your page by dragging with the Type tool. Make a small frame, any width, as long as it is narrower than the width you want. Then switch to the Selection tool and click on the Object Style you just created. The frame will automatically snap to the width you entered in the Object Style.

This will only work for text frames. But remember that you can switch a text frame to a graphic frame or contentless frame by choosing Object > Content.

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15 Comments on “Make an Object Style specify frame width

  1. But, if you just need something that is always the same (such a pullquote, or a caption, etc) isn’t it much simplier to create snippets? This way you can have always the same width, color, position, border, fill, corner effects, drop shadow, bla, bla, bla?
    Bad thing is that a snippet isn’t “scriptable”, as far as I know, and on the other side an object style is…

  2. @Guido: Yes, I’d probably use a snippet for the example described, but I thought this hack was kinda cool, and might be useful for something sometime.

  3. It’s not really a hack is it :) it’s more of a very good feature very well hidden :)

    Snippets are alright – but I already have my pullquotes all set up to apply the paragraph style with the object style so now all I have to do is set that Fixed Width – and it’s pretty much automated. No dragging in and out of documents, no looking for that snippet. Or extra menus, folders and files. Just click and done. Pretty cool!

  4. I’m sure you’ve done articles on ID libraries before, as well, but along the lines of this post and its comments, I find that the libraries feature is invaluable in much of the work I do. Snippet v. Library isn’t really what I’m advocating. I’m just saying that the ID library should have some recognition for ease of access and timesaving capabilities, as well.

  5. Blah – can’t stand libraries, so unintuitive, cumbersome, slow etc.

    Now, an Assets manager would be helpful – we got minibridge instead. But an Assets manager would be way too helpful.

  6. Veru nice trick.

    I allways wished InDesign styles to have “CSS features” to save us from clever but unintuitive roundtrips

  7. Hey Eric, I’m the one of the few folks who uses libraries. :-) I like to see all the library stuff in a tiny little panel instead of searching around for snippets.

    Great article, Keith!

  8. Fantastic trick!! I will surely find a use for it.

    Phyllis – library person here, too, especially for giant collaborative projects. I do a lot of setting up templates for other people with negligible InDesign skills to use, and I can’t imagine the mess if I were using snippets.

  9. Thanks for this! I just can’t believe Adobe still hasn’t implemented width + height. Doing yearbooks I use certain sizes for different photos and it would be awesome to just apply a style to set the sizes.

  10. The height is the tricky part. I want to use a style where the height of the box fits a little larger than the type size, but the width is variable based on how many characters I put in. A designer might use this to include testimonials about a product, or a quote from a student about a course, or a price that fluctuates between four digits and five. It’s much easier to simply click a button in the object style palette than to load and place a snippet each time — especially when using the object needing to be styled as an anchored object.

    Anyone heard if this is a feature “to come” from Adobe?

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