Blatner Tools for Adobe InDesign


Blatner Tools is a suite of 12 InDesign plug-ins that offers over 100 different features. Below is a list of many of the most important features you'll want to use.

Power Styles

  • Create Basic Character Styles: Blatner Tools can create and apply character styles throughout your document. You have two choices: Create Basic Styles makes Italic, Bold, and Underline character styles and applies to the appropriate text in your document. In some cases, you may have used font styles such as "Oblique" or "Demi Condensed." In these cases, Blatner Tools creates and applies special character styles.
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  • Create All Character Styles: For the ultimate in character styling, choose Create All Character Styles. This creates and applies character styles based on all local text formatting (anything applied to less than an entire paragraph). Text that has character style already applied to it is unaffected by this. The style names reflect the formatting.
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  • Create Paragraph Styles: This feature analyzes your document for patterns of text formatting, then creates and applies paragraph styles for you. Perfect for when you are given an InDesign document with no styles!
  • Create Object Styles: When you need to use the same formatting for many different objects in your document, you should use object styles. Now you can create all your object styles in one action by choosing Create Object Styles in the Object Styles panel menu.
  • Compare Styles: When you select two or more styles in the panel (Command/Ctrl-click, or Shift-click to select more than one style), you can choose Compare Styles from the panel menu so that you can see what is different between them. You can also export this report out as a tab-delimited file.
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  • Remove Local Style Overrides: When you need to remove some or all the local text formatting from a document (the formatting that someone has placed on top of the paragraph and character styles), you can choose Remove Local Overrides from the Type menu. This displays a list of all document local overrides and lets you keep or remove each type (so you can, for example, remove all font size overrides, but keep all paragraph indent overrides).
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    Quality Assurance

    The Quality Assurance panel detects and displays common document mistakes. Click on a "error" to select it on the document page. To control the types of errors it finds, choose Options from the panel menu and choose from among the following options:

    • Minimum line thickness
    • Overset text frames
    • Local character formatting
    • Local paragraph formatting
    • Empty text frames
    • Duplicate objects (where one object is on top of the other)
    • Non-printing items
    • Objects placed entirely on the pasteboard
    • Text frames partially on the document page (where text will be trimmed off)
    • Consecutive white space characters (two returns, two spaces, two tabs in a row, etc.)
    • Incorrect use of dashes (such as two hyphens in a row)
    • Orphan brackets (such as a parenthetical with no ending parenthesis
    • Objects colored with unnamed colors (colors for which there is no swatch)
    • Hidden objects (objects that are fully covered by other opaque objects)
    • Runts (single word or partial word at the end of a paragraph)
    • Blank pages
    • Paragraph or character styles defined using fonts that aren't used on any document page.
    Yes, InDesign CS4's Preflight feature can also check for some of these. However, we included them here to ensure Blatner Tools would also work in CS3.

    Text Controls

    The Text Controls panel gives you more control over (yes, you guessed it!) text! The primary features in Text Controls are:

    • Change Leading to Fill Text Frame: This adjusts the leading in a text frame to justify the text from top to bottom. Similar to the Justify text feature in InDesign's Text Frame Options dialog box, but this works in non-rectangular frames and frames with text wrap affecting them.
    • Scale Text to Fit Frame: This scales the text in a frame up or down until the total story fits into the frame. Helpful for making headlines fill a space quickly.
    • Adjust Inner-Paragraph Spacing: Need to make a paragraph a tiny bit looser or tighter to fit the space (or pull a short line up)? The character spacing, word spacing, and glyph scaling buttons (and keyboard shortcuts) let you do it cleanly and evenly throughout the paragraph.
    • Lock First Line Indent Position: Ensures that the first line remains in the same horizontal location, even when adusting the Left Indent in the Text Controls panel. Especially helpful when fine-tuning hanging indents.
    • Adjust Increments: You can adjust the increments for (and apply keyboard shortcuts to) adjusting space before/after, and left/right indents.
    • Keyboard Shortcuts for Text Features: The Text Controls panel duplicates several InDesign features, including Optical Margin Alignment and Ignore Text Wrap. Why? Mostly so that we could allow you to apply keyboard shortcuts to them (using the Keyboard Shortcuts panel).


    Sooner or later, everyone has to create and format fractions in InDesign! However, InDesign has no simple and direct way to simply "turn on" automatic formatting, so that you get proper fractions. The Fractions plug-in allows you to find/replace, replace all, and automatically replace fractions with the properly-formatted ones, either by OpenType, glyph, or simple re-sizing and re-positioning of numbers and fraction slash (depending on the font). You can also disable this feature for selected characters, such as a date (e.g. 06/1984) that you wouldn't want converted to a fraction.

    Find Colors

    Find Colors offers several new features dedicated to managing your document colors!

    • Find Colors dialog box: Similar to Find Font, the Find Colors dialog box lets you find and replace colors throughout your document, search for spot colors inside graphics, replace colors in styles, and more.
    • Find Next Use: This lets you quickly traverse your document for specific colors. For example, if you want to find where you used Yellow, right-click on it and choose Find Next Use from the context menu. (You can also set this up as a keyboard shortcut.)
    • Color Reports: Find Color can also build two different color reports for your document: One report creates a separate document that displays swatches and information about each color and its usage. The second report is created in a separate layer of your document, adding markers to each page object to identify colors.


    When you select a text frame and choose Use AutoPage from the Object menu (or the Context menu), InDesign can automatically expand the frame to fit the text and/or add additional pages and text frames as you add text to the frame. AutoPage is similar to the Smart Text Reflow feature in InDesign CS4, but it offers more fine control and options. For example, it works on a frame-by-frame basis, instead of InDesign's document-wide approach. Also, AutoPage matches the size and position of your frame on each additional page! AutoPage offers several preferences that let you customize its behavior.

    • You can choose to expand the overset frame down until it hits the bottom margin and only after that add pages (or not).
    • Choose whether to use current spread or current page as a template.
    • Choose where to place the new page: After page with overset, end of section or end of document.
    • Whether you want to disable AutoPage when a frame in the story is deleted.

    Script Manager

    Scripts can automate boring tasks in InDesign, but there is a problem: They are generally hidden inside the Scripts panel where most users never venture. The Script Manager puts the power of scripts into everyone's hands by placing the ones you most want to use in a new Extras menu. (Note that we don't even call it "Scripts" because we don't want to scare novice users.) The Extras Menu makes it easy and fun to use scripts, even if you don't know what scripts are.

    • You can customize the Extras menu, adding new scripts easily and naming them whatever you want in the menu.
    • Blatner Tools ships with a number of great scripts written by some of the world's best scripters. These are installed automatically so you can use them immediately.
    • Script Manager also lets you embed a script into a document. When you save the document and send it to someone else, they can run the script from the Extras menu even if they don't have it installed on their computer. (They must have Blatner Tools or the free "Reader" version of the Script Manager plug-in installed.)

    History Lite

    History Lite is a simplified version of our History plug-in. The History panel lists all past actions (since you last opened the document), enabling easy undo and redo of changes. You can also create a new document from any previous document state. Note that this "lite" version does not have the ability to save versions within a document.


    We don't mean to speak badly of Adobe InDesign, but the program has a huge flaw: It's too easy for it to lose its memory! For example, each time you add a new plug-in, InDesign gets confused, resets all its preferences, and even forgets your list of recent files. Worse, if something goes wrong and you have to reset (rebuild) your preferences, there's no good way to get your settings back. Frustrating!

    Remember is a simple plug-in with very little user interface. It simply remembers your preferences, recently opened documents, and other settings -- and recalls them if they get reset. Even better, it can export and import your preferences files (including Glyph Sets, Workspaces, Find/Change queries, and more) so that you can easily share them with other InDesign users

    Blatner Tools Menu

    The best way to be efficient in InDesign is to keep your hands on the keyboard as much as possible and use keyboard shortcuts instead of hunting for features in menus, dialog boxes, and panels. However, InDesign will only allow you to create a custom keyboard shortcut for items in a menu... and there are many features that don't have menu items! That's why we created the Blatner Tools Menu.

    We don't necessarily expect anyone to choose these features from the Blatner Tools menu, but by adding them to our own menu, we can now let you apply your own shortcuts to them. For example, the Blatner Tools menu lets you apply any keyboard shortcut to:

    • Paragraph, character, table, and object styles
    • Layers and layer management (lock all layers except current layer, hide other layers, select layer, move object to layer, select all items on current layer, etc.)
    • Add guides with a shortcut, where your mouse currently is.
    • Apply clipping path, or remove clipping path.
    • Change inline object to anchored object.
    • Add/remove corner effect.
    • Optical Margin Alignment and other text effects (see "Text Controls" above).

    Keyboard Shortcuts PRO

    The Keyboard Shortcuts plug-in is a free plug-in that lets you more easily manage your keyboard shortcuts. The "pro" version that ships with Blatner Tools offers even more features, such as exporting and importing shortcut sets to a file and exporting sets as an easy-to-read "poster" that you can print out for reminders.

    David Blatner's Tip of the Day

    Get your everyday bits of InDesign wisdom from David Blatner! These are the same great tips as the free version of the plug-ins, but without the annoying ad banners.

    Reviewers Guide

    Download the features description in a pdf Reviewers Guide.


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