In Adobe InDesign, I frequently come across complex paragraph or character styles that might have 10+ attributes defined, where I want to unset just one of the attributes.

For example, my paragraph style named Caption has about 15 specialized attributes, one of which is a particular font style. I want to delete the font style override from the Caption paragraph style, and just let the “based-on” style work without being overridden. However, I see no way to delete the font-style attribute value. There is no option None, and deleting the value won’t work. For some attributes, like size, deleting the value results in an “Invalid Entry” dialog.

How can I delete an attribute value?

  • Have you tried creating a new style with the 14 bits you want to keep, and then deleting the old one and telling InDesign "replace all instances of X with Y" with the new one? Nov 17, 2015 at 10:56
  • Paragraph styles cannot contain empty fields, only Character styles can. I.e., you cannot have a paragraph style without a size. Did you try manually changing the font style to what it is in its parent?
    – Jongware
    Nov 17, 2015 at 11:32
  • 3
    @Jongware, yes, but doing so defeats the purpose of inheritance. I want to be able to centralize control over the font to the "Based On" style. That is, if I want to change the font throughout my entire document, I want to change it in only one style (the parent). Specifically, I want not to need to edit its children as well. Nov 17, 2015 at 21:01

4 Answers 4


I just tested this, and it looks like if you take your "Caption" style and set the attribute to match the "Based On" style, any further changes to the parent will carry over to the child. In other words, changing the attribute to match the definition in the Based On style "resets" the attribute.

  • 1
    What version of InDesign? I just tried this and it didn't work for me with CS4. Sep 2, 2016 at 19:13
  • 1
    CC 2015. I'll test it on CS5 tonight at home. In the meantime, I found that you can't match the parent style to the child and still have them update. The child style has to be changed to match the parent, then it re-links the attribute. Sep 2, 2016 at 22:18
  • @Scribblemacher—it works in CS5, as long as you match the child to the parent, and not vice versa. Sep 3, 2016 at 2:49

The only workaround I have found is:

  1. Take a screen shot of the definition on the General panel.
  2. Click Reset to Base.
  3. Painstakingly re-create the 14 attributes that I wish to keep.
  • 1
    Well it would be possible to wirte a script to do this for you
    – joojaa
    Jun 14, 2016 at 7:17

Not really a solution, but potentially a shortcut if you're only using few styles:

  • highlighting (Cmd+A) the text (i.e. font family or font style) and pressing Fn+Opt+Delete sets it to the last selected style. Doesn't work with size.

However, if you're making many formatting changes between them that you have to screenshot one style, you're probably better off just creating a new style anyway.


have you tried redefining the style?

apply the "caption" style to a paragraph of text. manually change the 1 bit of info you want to change. with the paragraph text highlighted, right click on the "caption" style sheet in the style sheet palette. Then select "redefine style" (4th down on the fly out menu). Whatever changes you manually made to that paragraph are now updated in the style sheet.

doesn't update style sheet with nested styles, but will update regular paragraph style sheets. you can also do this to character style sheets.

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