Text Cleanup in InCopy using GREP

This past week I was talking with a group of editors who were lamenting about the amount of time that they spend each day cleaning up text from Word content that they place into InCopy. Specifically they were talking about numbered items in the Word document. This piqued my curiosity because I know full well that numbered and bulleted lists in Microsoft Word are handled quite well by InCopy and get converted to native numbered and bulleted lists when imported. Upon further explanation, it turns out in their case, that the numbering applied in Word was done manually instead of using the numbered list feature built into Word.

This actually explained quite a bit. What was happening was that when they imported the manually numbered items into InCopy and applied the numbering paragraph style to the text, they ended up with double numbers. One number generated automatically and one number that was manually typed. Let it be said, that it is one of my missions in life, to get users to use Word (and other applications) correctly, but I’m not going to achieve that anytime soon.
Double Numbered List

GREP to the Rescue!

Their current solution to the problem was one that basically involved manually removing the number, the period, and the extra spaces for each numbered item because they tried with little success in the past to fix the problem using Find/Change. Although Find/Change was close to the correct solution, they just needed to go a little bit further in the dialog box to find GREP. I wrote an introductory post on GREP in InCopy here, so if you’re totally new to GREP, you might want to familiarize yourself with it.

GREP takes Find/Change to a whole new level by allowing a user to build intelligence into a search. Start by making sure your cursor is within the story that you want to edit and that the story is checked out (if applicable). Open the Find/Change dialog box by pressing Cmd+F (Mac) or Ctrl+F (Windows) and click on the GREP button at the top of the dialog box. Directly to the right of the Find What field, click on the @ symbol to specify special characters in your text to search. In the drop-down menu, choose Wildcards > Any Digit which will insert \d into the Find What field which is the regular expression for a digit. This search alone will find any numeric digit in your file. This is not specific enough for our example so we’ll need to define more properties to search.

Directly to the right of the \d in the Find What field, type \. (backslash period). In the GREP language, whenever you want to find a literal character, you need to precede it with a backslash which tells GREP that the text you’re typing is not part of its language but instead is defining the literal text. Now we’re finding a digit followed by a period. At this point I’ll press the Find Next button a few times to test my search so far to see if I’m on the right track. Make sure your cursor is to the right of the period in the Find What field and click on the @ symbol and choose Wildcard > Any White Space. Click on the @ symbol again and choose Repeat > One or More Times which tells InCopy that there could be one or more space in a row. This bullet-proofs the search a bit because it accounts for inconsistencies in the number of spaces that might appear after the period.

Letting GREP do the Heavy Lifting

The Find What field should now look like this \d\.\s+ which is basically saying find a digit followed by a period, followed by one or more spaces. Make sure that the Change to field is blank and click the Change All button and watch InDesign remove all of those extra characters.

GREP Find Change dialog box

GREP Find_change

Save that Search!

Don’t worry, you don’t have to be a GREP guru to make use of this fantastic feature. You don’t even need to remember what to type in! Once you build a GREP search like we did here, simply click the Save Query button at the top of the Find/Change dialog box, give it a name, and click save. Now you can choose it from the Query drop-down menu any time you need to use it!

The Save Query button

The beauty of GREP is that once you figure it out, it can save you literally hours of manual work. Once you figure out the correct GREP for your situation, save it and enjoy the fruits of your labor. I’d like to know about other text cleanup issues that you wrestle with on a daily basis. Post them in the comments section below, and I or someone else in the InCopySecrets community will respond to your question. If we get some interesting examples, I’ll write it up as a post here at InCopySecrets.com. Until next time!

Beware of this InCopy bug!

While doing InCopy training for a group of editors recently, I ran across a nasty bug in InCopy CS6 and InDesign CS6. This bug doesn’t seem to exist in InCopy/InDesign CC (vs.
When you create a new document in InDesign CS6, you can choose a “intent” in the New Document dialog box. The Digital Publishing intent is often used for creating article content for Adobe Digital Publishing Suite.

Screen Shot 2015-01-24 at 3.17.34 PM

The Problem

If you choose the Digital Publishing or Web intent, this makes InCopy CS6 crash when you use the “Package” workflow. Specifically, you will be able to create InCopy Stories and Assignments, and edit those with InCopy without a problem. And you will be able to choose “Package for InCopy” from the Assignments panel menu and generate a .icap file successfully. However when an InCopy CS6 user tries to open the .icap file, InCopy will crash.

The workaround? Open the InDesign file, choose File > New Document, and change the Intent to Print. This will change the page size to Letter, but you can change it back to the original Width and Height (be sure to include “px” after your measurements to specify pixels). You may also want to choose Edit > Transparency Blend Space > Document RGB to put the transparency blend space back to what it was, and change your measurement system back to pixels. Unfortunately, changing the intent to Print will change any RGB swatches to CMYK, which may cause a color shift. If so, you will need to edit each swatch and change it back to its original RGB color values.

Editors Update

As Keith was writing this article, Adobe announced the February 2015 release of Adobe InDesign CC. As part of this release, they also updated InDesign CS6 that fixed the bug outlined in Keith’s article above. This update however only applies to users who purchased InDesign CS6 as part of the Creative Cloud subscription. If you purchased InDesign CS6 as a perpetual license (boxed or as a download), you’ll still need to take advantage of Keith’s workaround above.

Table Tips

Recently, it’s been brought to my attention that Tables in both InCopy and InDesign can be a bit of a challenge for new and seasoned users alike. The former especially whom are likely accustomed to working with tables in Microsoft Word, discover very quickly that tables in InCopy definitely don’t work the same.

An additional challenge is simply finding the controls to specify the strokes around each cell of a table. InDesign provides a quick view of cell borders in the Control panel but nothing like that is easily visible in InCopy. So here are some helpful tips to make working with tables easier in InCopy.

Selecting Table Elements

InCopy in some ways eases the process of selecting table elements because the Type tool needs to be active in order to select table elements. This sometimes confounds InDesign users because they’ll try to use another tool to perform the task. InCopy only has 6 tools to choose from and the Type tool is the one most often used so InCopy users should have no problem here. To select columns and rows, simply hover your cursor over the top or left side of the table respectively and click when you see a bold arrow to select the row or column. You can also click and drag to select a range of rows/columns or click in the upper-left corner to select the whole table.

Selecting a table

Once the table or a portion of the table is selected, you can format the text within the table just as you would any other text. A common task that frustrates users when working with tables is selecting a single cell within a table. It can be maddening trying to click and drag to select only a single cell. To ease this process, simply click anywhere within a cell using your Type tool and press the Escape key on your keyboard. It doesn’t get much easier than that!

Single table cell selection

To select a single cell, simply click within the cell with the Type tool and press Escape on your keyboard.

Adjusting Table Strokes

To visually see how strokes are applied to a selected table or a selected range of cells, you need to open the Cell Options dialog box. Go to Table > Cell Options > Strokes and Fills to display the dialog box.

Cell options dialogCell Borders

This is where if you’ve used Microsoft Word before, the behavior you experience is not the behavior that you get. In Word, by clicking on the edges of the proxy preview area (figure above right), you will enable or disable the stroke (border) of the selected cell(s). InCopy requires an extra step. By selecting or deselecting the borders in the proxy preview in InCopy, you are simply telling InCopy which cell edges you want to effect. Once you’ve done that, any changes you make to the weight, type, color or tint in the Cell Stroke section of the Cell Options dialog box, will be applied to the selected edges of the cell.

Selecting the cell edges in the proxy preview can be accomplished by simply clicking on an edge to enable or disable that cell edge. To speed up the selection process, you can use these tips:

  • Double click on one of the outer borders to select or deselect all sides of the selected area
  • Double click on one of the inner borders to select or deselect all inner borders of the selected area
  • Triple click on any line in the proxy preview to select or deselect every border of the selected area

Resizing Tables

You can drag any cell edge of a table to adjust that particular row/cell. However if you want to adjust all of the rows or columns in a table, you need to hold down the shift key and drag on the bottom or right edge of the table respectively.

Resizing a table

The shift key can also be used to resize internal rows and columns in a table while keeping the overall size of the table intact. Finally if you have adjusted the rows and columns of a table and want to set a range of them back to a consistent size, select the range of columns or rows that you want to adjust and choose Table > Distribute Rows Evenly or Distribute Columns Evenly. Below is an example of a table created entirely in InCopy.


Tables are a powerful feature in InCopy and are a great way to present data in an organized way. Hopefully these table tips will save you a few precious minutes during your daily work routine. If you’d like to share some of your favorite time-saving table tips with us, please do so in the comments section below. Until next time!

How to edit multi-state object content with InCopy

One shortcoming of the InDesign/InCopy workflow is that if an InDesign user includes text in any of the states of a multi-state object (mso), InCopy users will not be able to see or edit the text in the states of the mso.

But, it turns out that with a couple extra steps in InDesign, and clever use of the linked content feature (introduced in InDesign CS5.5) you can make mso text editable by InCopy users.

In this example, I’ll create an mso that has 2 states: “hidden” and “visible”. When the user taps a “plus” icon in the “hidden” state, the “visible” state appears that consists of a text frame that contains a caption.

How It’s Done

  1. In InDesign, create the text frame for the visible state on the pasteboard close to where the mso will be positioned on the page.
  2. Format this text frame exactly as you want it to appear in the mso. It can be really useful to set the text frame to “auto-size” so that it grows and shrinks as the text within is edited.
  3. Select the text frame with the Selection (black arrow) tool.

Text frame selection

  1. Choose Edit > Place and Link. This will cause a place cursor to appear.

Place and Link


  1. Click to discharge the place cursor. This will create a copy of the original text frame with the same dimensions, properties, and contents as the original.
  2. Position the copy of the text frame where you want it on the page, and build the 2 states of the mso.

Multi-State Object


  1. Now use the Object States and buttons panel to “wire up” the multi-state object as you usually would, leaving the text frame on the pasteboard untouched.
  2. Now, as long as you include the text frame that is on the pasteboard when you export stories or create an assignment for InCopy, the text in that frame will be available to checkout and edit in InCopy.

Here is what it looks like after editing in Layout view in InCopy. The frame on the pasteboard is visible, the frame in the mso is not. Of course, the text also appears in Story and Galley view.

Screen Shot 2015-01-24 at 4.24.29 PM

  1. Check the story back in.
  2. Now, back in InDesign, you just need to choose Update All Links from the Links panel menu, and both frames will be updated with the edited text.

Screen Shot 2015-01-24 at 4.29.17 PM

Unleashing the Power of Power Zoom!

One of the common challenges that InCopy users face, is the efficient navigation of documents in both Galley/Story views as well as Layout view. Layout view can be particularly challenging because if you are working in a facing page document the pages bounce between left and right hand pages and the lack of a Pages panel in InCopy makes it even more challenging. To address this, some users take advantage of the scroll wheel on the mouse or the scroll bars located at the right and bottom edges of the document window. I personally find this method to be on par with getting a root canal.

Document Navigation in Layout View

Out of the 5 tools available in InCopy, two of them are specifically dedicated to navigating a document in Layout view. Those tools are the Hand tool Hand tool and the Zoom tool Zoom tool.

The Zoom tool allows a user to zoom in on a document for closer inspection, typically to edit text and to avoid squinting when reading it. Once zoomed in, the Hand tool can become a replacement for the scroll bars because a user can simply click somewhere in the document and drag to the area that they want to see (much much easier than those scroll bars).

Dragging with the Zoom tool to zoom in on an area.


Once zoomed in, the hand tool makes it easy to navigate within the page.

Now the Fun Stuff!

As helpful as these navigation tools are, there’s one feature that many users don’t know about which is Power Zoom. Power Zoom is accessible after you’ve zoomed in on an area of a document and have the Hand tool active. You initiate Power Zoom by clicking and holding with your mouse for a second with the Hand tool active anywhere in the document. With the mouse still held down, You’ll enter Power Zoom which initially displays a birds-eye view of the document with a red rectangle displayed.

With the mouse still held down, you can now move the red rectangle to a different area of your document to change the area of focus. Now, simply release the mouse and InDesign zooms in on the new area of the document. Do this as often as you need to to view the area of the document that needs attention.
Power Zoom

When Power Zoom is initiated, you are presented with a birds-eye view of your document. Move the red rectangle, release the mouse and you’r zoomed in to a new area of the document.

Some users stumble upon the Power Zoom feature by accident when they pause while using the Hand tool and don’t quite understand what’s happening. Once you understand how it works however, Power Zoom can be an incredibly efficient way to navigate your InCopy document in Layout view. Give it a chance and you’ll never want to go back to those pesky scroll bars again! Let us know how you like Power Zoom and share you favorite navigation tips and tricks with us using the comments section below.

Saving Your Place using Position Markers

I was recently asked to provide follow-up InCopy training to a client that I had originally trained about a year ago. Although they had been using InCopy successfully since the original implementation, the idea was to provide them with tips to help them do their jobs more efficiently. I had planned on starting out by showing them more advanced features like Quick Apply and Nested Styles when one of the users asked a question. “How can I easily return to my spot in a document when I need to navigate to another page to check something?” It was at that point that I realized that sometimes the most helpful things in any program aren’t the glitzy whiz-bang features but instead are the ones that alleviate the basic frustrations of day-to-day tasks. In this case the user who needed to perform a lot of fact checking in each article had to do a lot of “bouncing around” throughout the document and would become frustrating by the amount of time it took her to find her original editing location.

Saving Your Spot

She asked an excellent question, one that I hadn’t given much thought to, but one that totally made sense. In a multi-story layout or even in a single story that is lengthy, it can be challenging to return to a specific location after navigating to a different area of a document or story. The answer is to take advantage of Position Markers. Often overlooked by InCopy users, Position Markers provide a way to mark a specific location in a document or story so that you can return to it easily with a keyboard shortcut or menu command.

To insert a Position Marker, simply position your cursor where you would like to mark your location. Then choose Edit > Position Marker > Insert Marker or use the keyboard shortcut Shift+Cmd+[(Mac) or Shift+Ctrl+[(Windows).
Screen Shot 2014-12-31 at 5.50.28 PM

Inserting a Position Marker can be done in any view you wish and InCopy will display a marker in all 3 views. It looks like a vertical barbel of sorts that marks the location of the Position Marker.
Position Marker icon

Getting Back to the Marker

Once the marker has been inserted you can navigate throughout your document as desired. To return to the location of the Position Marker, choose Edit > Position Marker > Go to Marker or use the keyboard shortcut Shift+Cmd+](Mac) or Shift+Ctrl+](Windows). Voila! You are returned to the Position Marker! Once again, this works in any of the 3 views in InCopy.

A Few Caveats

You might notice that you don’t need to check out any stories prior to inserting a marker. This is because the Position Marker is session-based, meaning the marker is inserted without modifying any specific file but instead is maintained by InCopy itself. So if you were to close the file in which you inserted the marker, you will not be asked to save the file and the marker will be removed and will not be accessible when the file is reopened. Additionally, InCopy doesn’t support multiple Position Markers, only one Position Marker can be inserted at a time. It is however quite easy to remove a Position Marker and insert a new one. To remove a Position Marker, simply choose Edit > Position Marker > Remove Marker. It doesn’t matter what your current location is in the document, because only one Position Marker can be present at a time, the command simply clears the existing marker.

Remove Position Marker

Even better, you can skip the process of removing the marker by using the Replace Marker command located in the same Edit > Position Marker submenu. Simply insert your cursor at the new location of the desired marker and choose Edit > Position Marker > Replace Marker. The old marker is removed and replaced with a new one. The Replace Marker command shares the same keyboard shortcut as Insert Marker, Shift+Cmd+[(Mac) or Shift+Ctrl+[(Windows).

Replace Marker


Many InCopy users might find the Position Marker to be overkill when working in smaller documents. Users who work in longer and even more complex documents however, will find the Position Marker to be a huge time saver and a feature that can reduce frustration. Give it a try and let us know what you think. Have a technique that you like to use to efficiently navigate in InCopy? Post it in the comments section below. We’d love to hear from you!

The Case of the Missing Margins!

I received a question this week from a user who was using InCopy to create simple standalone documents and was confounded by the complete lack of margin settings when creating a new document. It’s a good question, but one that requires some further explanation regarding the role of InCopy.

Creating a document without the intent of ever connecting it (flowing it into) InDesign is referred to as a stand-alone document, in other words, using it as a word processor. As much as I hear people describe InCopy as a replacement for Microsoft Word in a publishing workflow, InCopy is not a replacement for Word in a word processing workflow. Hence the missing margins, lack of headers and footers, inability to add automatic page numbers, and no way to configure multiple columns, among many other things.

InCopy will, however, add additional pages as needed — which somewhat resembles the behavior of a word processing application — so it’s easy to see why someone might misinterpret how InCopy should be used. Content that begins in InCopy is intended to by placed into InDesign at some point down the line, where the text of the InCopy story takes on the geometry of the frame in InDesign. This is why most of the “usual” word processing features are missing from InCopy.

The Confusing New Document dialog box

When you create a new standalone document in InCopy and view it in Layout view, it looks like an InDesign document, with margins on every side of the page. You might think, hey, there must be a place where you can change the margins. In the New Document dialog box, you’re provided with the ability to change the width and height of the page (the page size, in other words), as well as the text area width and depth. This is the source of a lot of confusion: no matter what you change the width and depth or height to in either of these fields, you’ll always end up with .5″ margins in your document page.



So what are these fields actually doing? When you create a new document in InCopy, the Page Size is defined in the Page Size section of the New Document dialog box. Easy enough.

The Text Area settings are a little more complicated. Essentially it defines the width of the single column the text will occupy in the document. If you’ve created a standalone document that you know will be poured into an InDesign file, into a column or text frame that’s 4″ wide, then you could set the Text Area width to 4″ to get an accurate idea of how lines will break.

So: no margins are involved at all. The text frame that appears on each page carries the same width as what you specified in Text Area field, but it always appears offset from the top, left, and bottom edges of the page by .5″.  The depth field here is only for a target copyfit measure, which is why it’s empty by default (more on this below). The actual height of the text frame in InCopy will always be 1″ less than the height of the page, because there will be a .5″ top margin and .5″ bottom margin.

If you want to call the empty area to the right of the text frame a margin, go ahead. Just remember it’s only the right margin that’s adjustable, by changing the default 7.5″ Text Area width to another measure.

In each of the above figures, the width has been changed but the margins (the non-printing pink margin guides) remained the same. The only change is to the width of the text frame on the page.

How about the depth? You’d expect that changing the depth would yield the same result but there’s no change at all. The frame extends to the bottom of the page, stopping at the .5″ margin guide.

Remember that the Text Area depth is just for copyfitting purposes (they should just change the name of this field to Copyfit Target!). If you enter something in the field (as a target number of words, lines, pages, or inches) then InCopy can let you know if your story is over (as shown below) or under that amount, or hits the mark exactly. This can be very useful when writing to fit a predefined story length in InDesign, and is a feature that Microsoft Word lacks.

Screen Shot 2014-12-09 at 8.39.19 PM

So the key with this whole conundrum of margins in InCopy is to understand that InCopy is not a word processor. You can’t adjust the default margins that appear in Layout view but you can adjust the width of the text frame on your page — to make it easier to read, perhaps, or to preview how it’ll look in InDesign. Enter something into the Text Area: Depth field only if you want to set a target length for your story, and have InCopy report how you’re doing in the Copyfit Progress toolbar.

Transpose it!

InCopy contains a slew of hidden features that are often overlooked by users who use InCopy every day. I was reminded of this recently while working on a project where a user had copied numeric data from an excel spreadsheet that contained incorrect data. It turns out that the data supplied to them, had the decimal shifted one decimal place to the right which created a very wrong value. Fortunately the problem was caught in time but as I watched the user meticulously highlight the number and re-type it, I was reminded of a cool feature in InCopy that I had forgotten about—The Transpose command.

The Transpose command is perfect for situations where you’re fingers are faster than your brain, or in cases where you consistently misspell a word and need to go back and transpose two characters. The Transpose command can be found lurking in the Edit menu. To use it, simply insert your cursor between two characters that you want to transpose, and choose Edit Transpose. Magically, the two characters are swapped allowing you to efficiently proceed with your editing duties.

InCopy Transpose BeforeInCopy Transpose After

Positioning the cursor between the two characters that need to be transposed (left). After applying the Transpose command (right).

For maximum efficiency you’ll want to assign a keyboard shortcut to the Transpose command as one is not assigned by default. I use Ctrl+Option+Cmd+X but you can obviously pick any keyboard shortcut that you wish. I’ve found the ability to navigate through the text of a document using the arrow keys and using a keyboard shortcut to transpose characters to be quite efficient.

A few limitations that I’ve discovered about the Transpose command is that it doesn’t work with space characters. If you insert your cursor between a character and a space character, the Transpose command is grayed out. Also, one of the obvious areas where the transpose command could be used is when a period is placed outside of closing quotes in a sentence. Unfortunately, this seems to be another limitation of the Transpose command.

Shortly after working on the above project, I found myself working on a different project in InDesign but with the same problem where I needed to transpose some characters in the text I was working in. Naturally I went to the edit menu only to find the Transpose command missing. Systematically, I searched through each and every menu in InDesign thinking that although I’ve been using InDesign for 15 years, maybe I’ve overlooked it. Not so. InDesign simply doesn’t have this feature. Fortunately all is not lost. My good friend Keith Gilbert wrote a post over at InDesignSecrets describing a free script that he wrote that adds the transpose functionality to InDesign as well.

We’d love to hear about creative ways you’ve found to use the Transpose command! Please tell us about them in the comments section below.

The Remote InCopy User

Specific InCopy workflows come in all different flavors, and because InCopy is so versatile, you can use it to meet the needs of each one of those workflows. One workflow that consistently presents a challenge to users, is the workflow that contains remote users. That is to say users that don’t work within the walls of the organization but instead work in a satellite office or from home. Fortunately, InCopy can and does work quite well for the remote user using the package feature. Before we dive into how the package feature works, it’s worth mentioning that if you have a fast enough internet connection and VPN access to your company’s server it is possible to work remotely using InCopy as if you were sitting in an office at corporate HQ. Smaller companies however, don’t always have this capability, and the bandwidth of your home internet connection might be two reasons why this setup might not work for you. Another excellent solution is to use DropBox or Google Drive as a server for the InCopy workflow. We’re hoping to have a blog post on this topic soon.

Packaging Files in a Remote Workflow

InCopy and InDesign have the ability to package files from an InCopy Workflow to facilitate the editing of stories in InCopy as well as the updating of those files in InDesign. The process begins in InDesign and one requirement of this feature is that an Assignment needs to be created as a vehicle for transferring stories back and forth in a remote workflow. Move the stories that you intend to send to the remote user(s) into an Assignment. In the figure below, the assignment is named Remote. From the Assignment panel menu, choose Package for InCopy or Package for InCopy and Email. Both commands package the assignment and the stories within into an icap file (InCopy Assignment Package), however the Package for InCopy and Email option automatically loads the packaged file into your default email application. The Package for InCopy command is useful if you are sharing the file using another method such as DropBox. Once the files are packaged, they are marked as checked out in the Assignments panel in InDesign.

InCopy Package command

Unpacking the files

When the InCopy user receives the .icap file, a simple double-click opens the package in InCopy. Visually, the user sees the assignment as well as the available stories just as they would if they were opening the assignment from a server back at the office. Simply check out the stories and edit as usual, check the stories back in when you’re finished.

InCopy Package opened in InCopy

The package file can be forwarded to other users as needed to expand the workflow by choosing the Forward for InCopy and Forward for InCopy and Email commands found in the Assignment panel menu. When the package is ready to be sent back to the designer, the Return for InDesign and Return for InDesign and Email commands, also found in the Assignment panel menu is used for the task. This command creates an .idap file (InDesign Assignment Package).

The Return for InDesign command

Upon receiving the .idap file, the designer double-clicks the file to open it and the file becomes available within InDesign with all of the changes made in InCopy applied. Adobe did a good job of making the remote workflow a seamless one while still providing all of the same capabilities as working directly on the network. If you have remote users as part of your workflow, it’s a lifesaver.

Have questions or comments about the remote workflow? Leave them in the comments section below. We’d love to hear from you!

GREP for Editors

If you’re like most people, you just got done reading the headline of this article and said “What in the world is GREP?” People who have been using InCopy for years, still aren’t sure what GREP is even though they probably see it every time they open the Find/Change dialog box.

GREP stands for General Regular Expression Print and although that probably doesn’t make things any clearer yet, just understand that GREP is like Find/Change on steroids. The premise behind GREP is that you build search terms using Regular Expressions that intelligently searches out text content with intelligence and precision accuracy. GREP can literally save hours of your time by cleaning up what you would normally do manually. If you think that GREP requires that you learn an obscure language in order to achieve find/change greatness, you’d be only partially correct. The point of this post is to introduce you to some GREP searches that you can use today without learning a single lick of code!

GREP is found in the Find/Change dialog box, so open it by choosing Edit > Find/Change or use the keyboard shortcut Cmd+F (Mac) or Ctrl+F (Windows) and click the GREP button at the top of the dialog box. This is where you can type in GREP expressions to search for content. As promised however, you won’t need to type anything in here! At the top of the Find/Change dialog box is a Query drop-down menu that contains six built-in GREP searches that you can use right out of the box. These searches include:

  • Change Arabic Diacritic Marks – For Arabic text, this changes the color of diacritical marks.
  • Dash to En Dash – Changes a single dash separated by spaces to an En dash.
  • Multiple Return to Single Return – Note that it says multiple. This changes more than one return in a row to one return.
  • Multiple Space to Single Space – Changes multiple spaces in a row to a single space.
  • Phone Number Conversion (dot format) – Changes phone numbers to a standard format separated by periods.
  • Remove Trailing Whitespace – Not a deal breaker if you have spaces at the end of a paragraph, but this search tidies up your text by removing them.

After choosing any one of these built-in GREP searches, the Find what field populates with the regular expression to find the desired text.
GREP Find Change
In the figure above, the Multiple Return to Single Return option was chosen. Just so you understand a little bit about the content of the Find what field, ~b is the expression for a break character. Putting two of them in a row ~b~b tells GREP to find two break characters in a row, and the + after them indicates that the two break characters can occur one or more times. Brilliant!

GREP Find Change Before After

The text before running the Multiple Return to Single Return GREP search (left) and after (right).

There you have it! Consider yourself a full-fledged GREP user! Of the six default GREP searches available from the Query drop-down menu, I’m guessing you can take advantage of at least three of them right off the bat. If you have a search dilemma that you think GREP could help you with, leave a comment below. If we hear a good response, I’ll write a post on more detailed GREP searches to help you do your job. Until next time!