A recent post in the InDesign Scripting forum asked about working with paragraph styles using JavaScript. With this in mind, a blog post that deals with working with this subject using AppleScript seemed appropriate.

DOCUMENT OR APPLICATION STYLE

Styles can be created for an active document as well as for the application. If created for the application, the style is persistent, at least until removed or InDesign’s preference file is recreated (in which case the default preferences are restored). A style created at the application level is inherited by every document created thereafter.

To create a paragraph style at the document level, it is created within a tell statement to the document. The following script is a typical example. It first checks for the existence of the style. If the style does not exist, it is created. If it does exist, its properties are changed for use within the document only.

Create Paragraph Style

tell application "Adobe InDesign CC 2019"
   tell document 1
	if (not (exists paragraph style "MyStyle")) then
	   make paragraph style with properties {name:"MyStyle"}
	end if
        set parastyle to paragraph style “MyStyle”
   end tell
   tell parastyle
	set applied font to "Arial" & tab & "Regular"
	set point size to 18
	set hyphenation to false
	set leading to auto
        set auto leading to 120
	set justification to center align
   end tell
end tell

Apply Style

To apply a style to text, a script first needs to verify that text or an insertion point is selected. After the paragraph style is verified. the text selected can be styled. Notice how the script from above is modified to serve as a handler that makes or modifies the style.

tell application "Adobe InDesign CC 2019"
   set docRef to document 1
   tell docRef
	set selList to selection
	if selList is not {} and class of item 1 of selList is in {text, insertion point} then
	   set selItem to item 1 of selList
	   set parastyle to my getParaStyle("MyStyle", docRef)
	   set applied paragraph style of selItem to parastyle
	else
	   activate
	   display alert ("Requires selection of type text or insertion point")
	end if
   end tell
end tell

(*Handler that checks for style by name. If not exists, the style is created. *)
on getParaStyle(styleName, docRef)
   tell application "Adobe InDesign CC 2019"
      tell docRef
	   if (not (exists paragraph style styleName)) then
              make paragraph style with properties {name:styleName}
	   end if
           set parastyle to paragraph style styleName
       end tell
       tell parastyle
	    —set properties as above
       end tell
   end tell
return parastyle
end getParaStyle

DEFAULT STYLE

InDesign provides a paragraph style by default named “[Basic Paragraph]”. This style can be referred to by name or as one of the following:

paragraph style 2 of application
applied paragraph style of text defaults

In creating paragraph styles, the default style often serves as the style on which other styles are created. In the example above the handler is modified to base the font being created on the style that is passed in the variable basicStyle. Notice how the properties for the style are passed as a record to the handler.

set styleName to "Head1"
tell application "Adobe InDesign CC 2019"
   set docRef to document 1
   set propRecord to {font style:"Bold", point size:24, hyphenation:false, leading:"24 pt", justification:center align}
   tell docRef
       set basicStyle to paragraph style "[Basic Paragraph]"
   end tell
   set newStyle to my getParaStyleBasedOn(styleName, docRef, basicStyle, propRecord)
end tell
newStyle

(*Handler that tests for style and creates it as defined*)
on getParaStyleBasedOn(styleName, docRef, basicStyle, propRecord)
   tell application "Adobe InDesign CC 2019"
	tell docRef
	   if (not (exists paragraph style styleName)) then
	       make paragraph style with properties {name:styleName, based on:basicStyle}
	   end if
	   set parastyle to paragraph style styleName
	end tell --docRef
	tell parastyle to set properties to propRecord
   end tell --application
   return parastyle
end getParaStyleBasedOn

What is interesting in using based on is that when properties of the based on style change, so do the properties for the styles on which it is based. For this reason, the font is often the only property that is ever set for the based on style.

In creating a document you may decide to create a “master” style (such as a sans serif “Headline”) and leave [“Basic Style”] to serve as the based on style for styles which are serif. Imagine a template with the paragraph styles set up this way. The template could easily be used for just about any document meeting its basic structure. Simply change the font for the paragraph styles “[Basic Style]” and “Headline”; then fill with contents.

ONWARD AND UPWARD

The next time you create a document that needs a number of styles, see if a script might provide some consistency and save you some time.

Disclaimer:
Scripts provided are for demonstration and educational purposes. No representation is made as to their accuracy or completeness. Readers are advised to use the code at their own risk.