While working on a book layout on InDesign (2019 version), I've made some experiments with character styles. Thus, I've created an empty character style in order to use it for marking the part of a chapter title that should appear in the automated running header (thanks to a text variable). Then I have changed my mind and don't use that trick anymore. However, when I try to delete the now unused character style, the app asks me what I want to substitute it with, as if it was still used somewhere in the file. I have checked everywhere:

  • GREP styles
  • nested styles
  • "based on" feature in other styles
  • text variables

but cannot find any reference to this style I want to delete.

Does anyone have any idea on where else I could look for it?

1 Answer 1


As the character style is "empty" as you say, you could just replace it with [None] without any consequence, but I guess you ask this for the principle of it.

Here is a complete list of what I would check. I also include things you have already mentioned for the sake of completeness.

  • Search the document for any occurrences of the character style:

    Select the character style with the Specify attributes to find button, make sure that Include Locked Layers and Locked Objects, Include Locked Stories, Include Hidden Layers and Hidden Objects, Include Master Pages and Include Footnotes are turned on and perform the search.

  • Check every Character Style to see if any of them is Based On the character style you want to delete.

  • Check every Paragraph Style to see if the character style is used in Drop Caps, Nested Styles, Nested Line Style, GREP Style or Bullets and Numbering.

  • Check Type > Text Variables of the Running Header (Character Style) type.

  • Check Type > Document Footnote Options.

  • Check Type > Document Endnote Options.

  • Check Layout > Table of Contents.

  • Lastly remember that a paragraph can be styled to use Drop Caps, Nested Styles, Nested Line Style, GREP Style or Bullets and Numbering even though it isn't saved in a Paragraph Style. You could have pressed Break Link to Style for a paragraph or, you could have manually made changes to a paragraph which makes it use the unwanted character style without it being reflected in any Paragraph Style.

  • 1
    Welcome to GDSE Artemij! I hope you can use my answer.
    – Wolff
    Nov 13, 2019 at 17:09
  • What about the fridge? 😀
    – user120647
    Nov 13, 2019 at 18:12
  • 1
    @Danielillo, lol! I already looked under the bed, but I don't think a fat character style would fit there.
    – Wolff
    Nov 13, 2019 at 18:24
  • @Wolff thank you for this exhaustive answer. I already checked almost all the items you suggest. Not the last one though, so I will try. I even tried to export the file as XML and read it on a text reader. There where some strange tokens concerning the running headers, but I am not able to find them when I open the file on InDesign. Nov 14, 2019 at 16:03
  • @ArtemijKeidan, any reason why you can't just delete the character style and replace it with [None]?
    – Wolff
    Nov 14, 2019 at 16:46

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