I need to have several InDesign (CS6) documents with same object, paragraph and character styles, but each with a different color scheme. For example a Paragraph style Heading with Character Color set to swatch "Color 1" which is different color in each document (other settings being identical).

Now I want the styles to be synchronized so that when I need to change e.g. some spacing in the Heading style, it can be easily changed across all the documents, but I want the colors to remain the same (i.e. different in each document).

I thought that this can be done by adding these documents to a Book and in Synchronize Options checking all the styles but unchecking Swatches, but apparently it does not behave that way. It keeps synchronizing the color swatches regardless of whether the Swatches option is checked or not. So whenever I synchronize the documents, "Color 1" swatch is overwritten everywhere.

I tried to rename the "Color 1" swatch in other documents but then after synchronization a new "Color 1" swatch is created (copied from the source document) and applied to the relevant styles (again, even if Swatches in Synchronize Options is unchecked).

Am I doing something wrong? Is there any way to achieve this?

  • What happens when you set e.g. "Heading - Color 1" para style to be "based on" "Heading" and then only set the color swatch, without touching other settings? When you sync, you only sync the "base styles."
    – Yorik
    Mar 8, 2016 at 20:11
  • As long as the color is not set in the style source document but the additional paragraph style with the color swatch is set separately in each of the "dependent" documents, the color is not overwritten. A few extra steps but it seems to do the trick.
    – Matej
    Mar 8, 2016 at 21:06

1 Answer 1


OK, to formalize my comment:

Make a set of base styles ("Heading"), then set "Heading - Color 1" paragraph style in each document to the option "Based on {style}" (choosing the "Heading" base style) and then only set the color swatch.

When you sync, you only sync the "base styles" and therefore the custom overrides are preserved.

  • Thanks Yorik as I have the same issue. What if we change 'Based on' to 'No Paragraph Style'? Apr 28, 2020 at 8:40

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