I have a document that I'm currently working on in InDesign which has white text on a dark background. Graphic styles (boxes with outlines) are also light on dark. This is well and good for when I want to show this document on-screen, but if I have to print the document out that would be a lot of black. I'd like to have a way to quickly switch between dark-on-light and light-on-dark themes so I can print out my document with black ink for type, etc. on white paper.

In Keynote I can create two separate themes — one for light-on-dark and one for dark-on-light — and if I want to change between the two I just switch which template the document uses. Is there a way to do this in InDesign?

  • 1
    If you're seeking dynamic page adjustment based on InDesign templates, that's not going to happen. InDesign just doesn't work that way.
    – Scott
    Mar 9, 2015 at 19:10

2 Answers 2


Depending on your documents and workflow this might not work for you, but anyway ...

I'm assuming you made use of the master page for the black background, since creating a colored rectangle on the master page that fills the entire page is the easiest way to color the background of the entire document that I know. To prevent this rectangle from showing up in print, simply put it on a non-printing layer. In the layers panel, create a new layer, right-click it and select Layer options. Uncheck the option "print" layer.

Now that we've gotten rid of the black background, we need to change the font color (white on white is not very readable). The easiest way to do this is a combination of paragraph formats and object formats. First, create a paragraph style for on-screen use. Set it how you like it, presumably with white font color (in contrast to the black background that you have for on-screen usage). Now, create a second paragraph style that is based on the first paragraph style. In that paragraph style, change the font color to black.

Now, if you had to change the paragraph style of every single paragraph that would be much work, so we'll use an object style for this. For all frames that contain text, create an object style and set the default paragraph style to the first paragraph style you created. If you want to change the text color for print usage, simply open up the object style options and change the paragrah style to the style we created earlier for print usage. Note that the primary text frame is also "just a frame" that you can assign an object style to on the master page.

You could also just use one paragraph style and change the font color when you need to print your document. However, you can also quickly change drop-shadows or other relevant effects that you have applied when using the method described above. Also note that there are severeal approaches to this, including different master pages, alternate layouts, different documents or layers with reused text (using the "place and link" option) and so on ... depending on your documents and workflow you might want to approach this differently.

  • 1
    Thanks for your thoughtful response. I think that would work except I have 10+ other paragraph styles that are all built off the basic paragraph. So maybe I'll just (1) do your tip about the non-printing layer (yes my rectangle is on a master page), (2) change basic paragraph to black, and (3) change parent object style to use black outlines instead of white. Not as easy as it is in Keynote, but hey, I'm not using InDesign because it's easy! Mar 9, 2015 at 21:30
  • Good thinking! Yeah InDesign is in a way less flexible than Keynote, though that is of course not what it's built for ... everything depends on smart usage of styles, which is cool in it's own way.
    – MoritzLost
    Mar 9, 2015 at 21:33

To summarize, as @Scott said, The answer is no: InDesign doesn't really do this nicely. Here's the workaround (thanks to @Gin-San for the suggestions):

  1. For the dark theme put a dark rectangle for a background on a layer and choose non-printing from the layer options.
  2. Build your document with paragraph styles that are all based on basic paragraph and only set character color in basic paragraph. Follow the same method for object styles.
  3. When you want to print (assuming you want the dark theme on-screen and light theme printed), just switch the character color in the basic paragraph style to black, along with whatever was white in the object styles.

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