GREP (Global Regular Expression Parsing) is one of the most powerful features of Adobe InDesign, but it’s often overlooked since it hides within other capabilities like Find/Change and Paragraph Styles. Once you learn the basics of GREP, you might wonder how you ever worked without it.
If you’re not familiar with GREP and its relationship with InDesign, it’s used for both simple and complex text operations. Simply put, GREP lets you automate formatting and find/changing of text, based on patterns in the text.
Have you ever wanted to remove multiple spaces between sentences and words? You might have used a simple Find/Change that searches for two spaces and replaces it with a single space. But what happens if there are three, four, or even more spaces? You would end up having to run the Find/Change multiple times.
This is where GREP comes in handy. Using the built-in saved searches/query, you will find “Multiple space to single space.” When choosing this, you’ll see a really long, strange string of text. This text, which is a GREP command, simply means that InDesign is going to look for any type of space that repeats, and replace it with a single space.
As you outgrow the built-in Find/Change presets, you might want to customize a specific preset or even format your text in an elaborate but consistent way. For example, have you ever wanted to make bold every instance of your company name in a layout? Perhaps you just want to ensure that website URLs never break across lines. These are just two examples of what you can accomplish with GREP commands. The best way to learn GREP is to watch Michael Murphy’s course Learning GREP with InDesign. This course covers the basics and advanced techniques needed to help you work efficiently with InDesign.
Beyond this course, we have a more developer–focused Using Regular Expressions course that can show you more advanced GREP commands and techniques to apply to your InDesign creations.
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