I need to put a pre-written dialoge into graphical chat boxes using Adobe InDesign CC 2015.

single chatbox

I've finished the Chatbox and everything I'm doing now is Copy and Paste, Align correctly to other chatboxes, Replace Text, Copy and paste again and so on.

This task really is repetitive and I fear that I might make mistakes due to this.

Is there anything I could do to make this more or less automatic? I can change the Chatbox Design if needed.

One possible approach would be to fill out a XML file and insert it in the Chat Windows I already did. That would be incredible cool.

        Hi guys. I'm chatting with you!

You can download an example of the chat Design here:
ChatExample.indd (2,05 MB)

I hope someone of you guys might know how to do it. I know that this question isn't about basic design rules but rather about usage of a specific tool.

I hope someone is able to help me.
Thank you :)

  • Have you explored Object, Paragraph, and Character styles in InDesign???
    – Scott
    Jul 30, 2015 at 16:13
  • Yes I have a Character style for the text. But I still need to copy and paste it every time and place it. It would be wayy easier to do if I just could give Adobe InDesign this Group and tell him "ok. repeat this group 40 times but every time with diffrent text: {diffrent text 1, diffrent text 2, ...}". It's just redundant work
    – BlueWizard
    Jul 30, 2015 at 16:52
  • What version of InDesign are you using? I have two possible options. One will be potentially much easier, but you need to be using CC 2015.
    – SpringKS
    Jul 30, 2015 at 23:05
  • I'm using InDesign CC 2015 as stated in my question. I already finished the whole task but I'm still highly interested on learning on how to automate this
    – BlueWizard
    Jul 30, 2015 at 23:46
  • Oops! Reading skills failure on my part.
    – SpringKS
    Jul 31, 2015 at 15:03

1 Answer 1


OK, this turned out to be trickier than I'd thought. But I was able to get each chat contained into one text frame with one anchored object.

enter image description here

Object Styles

I ended up needing to only define one object style. The key settings are the rounded corners, text inset added, and text frame auto height turned on.

Paragraph Styles

Setting up the paragraph styles took the most work, but using parent-child relationships, I was able to cascade my tweaks as I worked. The key settings are the paragraph shading set to span the column and offset the chat text a bit and turning on "balance ragged lines."

Anchored Objects

I turned your squares into triangles by deleting one of the anchor points. Then, I anchored the image to just before the first word in the chat paragraph. You could set the anchored object to always fall at the correct spot. I did not take the time to do that here.


There are several ways to make the spacing between the boxes consistent. For consistency, I used the "Distribute Spacing" option and set the spacing to 4mm.


With these styles set up, I could make mock chats quickly from scratch. However, to speed creation even further, I'd take each of the chat configurations (self, contactA, contactB) and make three library items that I could pull from. Then it's just a matter of pulling the right library item, pasting in the text, and then hitting the align button in the end.

I'd be interested to know how others would tackle this. Thanks for the fun mental exercise!

  • +1 This is along the lines of what I was thinking. But I didn't have the interest to follow it. Nice job!
    – Scott
    Jul 31, 2015 at 17:35
  • Thanks for taking your time to create this. Can you provide the .indd file so I can further examine it? (of course only of you still have the file)
    – BlueWizard
    Jul 31, 2015 at 23:01

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