I have a timeline on a master page, then pages for most of the items on the timeline. I want to set a character style to the item on the timeline related to the current page. The content, position, etc isn't changed and should be linked to the master page.

The only way I know how to do something similar to this is by overriding the text frame from the master page, which I very much do not want to do (there are a lot of items, and they might change).

Perhaps this is possible with a Primary Text Frame, but I can't think how.

Edit: Here's an example

enter image description here

On page 1, everything is black. On page 2, "Something" would be red and "Another" would be black. On page 3, "Another" is red and "Something" is black. Etc…

  • Not sure what your case is. You can create masters based on masters. So you have one 'superMaster' for the non-timeline content (general page). Then you create 'subMasters' for each timeline page. Create 'superMaster' first, then create 'subMaster'. Select 'base master on 'superMaster' in the create new master dialogue. You won't actually have to use 'superMaster' directly it's just a template that's the basis for the different 'subMasters'. Would this work?
    – HaraldCFS
    Nov 4, 2017 at 16:02
  • @HaraldCFS no-no. Image a timeline with a bunch of dates and events. That is in the master page. Then each page is for an event in that timeline. I want to "highlight" the relevant event that exists on the master page's timeline. Nov 4, 2017 at 18:09
  • @jacob What exactly do you mean by highlight? Change character style only? Can you post a screenshot (normal mode) of your timeline? As far as I can think, there is probably no way to avoid overriding, but with a screenshot maybe a workaround could pop up in my/our mind...
    – Vinny
    Nov 6, 2017 at 8:10
  • OK wait and see ^^ Also please specify what are the elements that might change... (I can think of a couple of workarounds for now...)
    – Vinny
    Nov 6, 2017 at 9:35
  • Yes-yes! From what you show, what I explained would work for your case you'll have to create one subMaster for each timeline event and then keep your timeline on superMaster..
    – HaraldCFS
    Nov 6, 2017 at 12:06

2 Answers 2


I think you could use the Linked Content feature as a workaround:

Create 2 masters: one with the elements that will never move (applied to your pages) and 1 with the elements that might change (based on first one). This master will not be applied but used as sources for linked content.

Open the Linked Content Tool, get the elements from this ghost master, and position them in a normal page (make sure "create links" is ON)

Then copy/paste in place those linked elements in all pages.

I recommend you lock the elements to prevent manual changes. Go preferences > General > uncheck "prevent locked objects selection". This will allow you to select an object and apply a style without he ability of moving it.

In your normal pages, apply an Object style based on a paragraph style to the elements you want to "highlight".

Now if you want to make changes, go to the "ghost" Master page and make the changes there. If you have to move the element (i.e. to the right), just extend the frame or play with indents: moving it would not have any effect. Update all links in the link panel. (Please note that in the Link panel, there's an Link Options sub-panel that you can find useful)

Note that I haven't tested this workaround due to lack of time. I don't like to post an answer without testing it before, but this would have been too long for a comment. So do not hesitate to report back if you experience trouble.

Another approach would be to link text content to an external file (such as Excel)

  • Thanks! I'll give this a try. I potentially can't link to an external file due to a long-standing bug in InDesign where it doesn't apply "Next style" correctly (the first style gets completely ignored and all of the linked content receives the "next style"). Nov 6, 2017 at 15:38

There's a much easier solution. Apply a master page override on each content page individually.

Just Ctrl+Shift Click on the timeline, and it becomes editable in your content page.

Then change the font colors to suit.

(OK, I see you didn't want to override - but it's only on each individual page, and it's reversible. The Master page remains intact.)

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