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Changing the Text Color Inside Multiple Table Cells

A.C. wrote:

I have never been able to figure out how I can change the color of all of the text in a table in one fell swoop. If you select all the cells, using the Swatches palette changes the fill of the cells, not the text.

The good news is that there is a simple solution, one which seems obvious in retrospect, once you know where to look. It all comes down to two buttons at the top of the Swatches panel, next to the Fill and Stroke icons. The first button is called “Formatting affects container.” This is the button that is usually selected, and it means color swatches will be applied to the stroke or fill of a frame… or table cell!

The second button is “Formatting affects text.” I bet you can guess what that will do! When you choose this before clicking a swatch, the color is applied to the fill or stroke of the text inside the container (the frame or the cell). You only have the option between the two buttons when you have a container (a fill or cell) selected.

Even better, there’s a keyboard shortcut: Press the J key to toggle between the two buttons.

David Blatner

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
David Blatner

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29 Comments on “Changing the Text Color Inside Multiple Table Cells

  1. The same buttons also appear on the main toolbar, located between the fill and stroke tool and the “apply” tool.

    However, unless you have the toolbar displaying in a double row (as opposed to one long row either horizontal or vertical), they’re smaller than they appear on the swatches panel and easy to miss if you don’t know what you’re looking for!

    Of course this situation can be avoided by defining and using styles – just create a style for your table text and edit the style’s properties rather than the text itself. :-)

  2. Not seeing the wood for the trees. Don’t know how many times I looked for this. THANKS! This is a truly valuable resource.
    Cheers and thanks again.

  3. Even better: Since CS4, switching from ?Formatting affects container? to “Formatting affects text” automatically puts “Fill color” to the front, even if “stroke color” was selected before. No more accidentally stroking text! Yeehaw! Single best new feature in CS4 ;)

  4. Dr Watson,

    I’m using CS4, but when I switch between “formatting affects container” and “formatting affects text”, the fill colour and stroke colour stay as they were last set – ie. the fill does not automatically come to front – is there a preference hidden somewhere that changes this behaviour?

  5. @Darren & DrWatson: It appears that if the text in the container has just a fill (no stroke), then it does move Fill color to the front (ID assumes you want to change the fill). But if the content has both fill and stroke, then ID doesn’t swap the fill/stroke icons. At least, that’s how it works on my system.

  6. Indeed, sorry. It only swaps fill/stroke when there’s no stroke applied to the text (who on earth has a stroke applied to text? ;). When both is applied, it may not swap. However, ID remembers which one was selected last: if you change the fill color of text, than change stroke color of the frame and than switch back to “formatting affects text”, it will swap icons again so that fill color is in front.

  7. Is there a way to change the color of all the text if it is not in a table. I am looking to change the color of the text in the entire document without having to select each text record separately. So, is there a way to select all of the text and change it to a different color?

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