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Episode 55: GREP Alpha Breaks in Lists

April 27th, 2015 | Michael Murphy

Learn how to use GREP to describe all items in a list that begin with the same letter, then insert a space between and/or add an alphabetical heading to each alpha group. Covers GREP Find/Change, wildcard/location/found text metacharacters, character sets, marking subexpressions, and backreferences (an undocumented feature).

Watch the episode here (23:22), or you can subscribe via iTunes.

Episode 53: Acrobat-Friendly Form Design, Part 2

December 15th, 2009 | Michael Murphy

Checkboxes and radio buttons and comb fields…oh my! After the podcast’s longest hiatus ever, and a cliffhanger gap worthy of The Sopranos, The InDesigner returns with a new episode that (finally!) finishes off the topic of designing smart for Acrobat forms.

In this episode, I take a look at adding form elements to an InDesign layout to create Acrobat-friendly checkboxes, radio buttons and comb fields, all of which can be achieved with a little help from anchored objects, GREP find/change and tables.

You may also notice new feature added to the podcast starting with this episode: chapters. You can now jump right to a specific part of the lesson using the chapters built into the video file.

Watch the episode here (15:30 | 45.5MB), or you can subscribe via iTunes.

Learn GREP from The InDesigner on

November 19th, 2009 | Michael Murphy

My first course for—InDesign CS4: Learning GREP—is now live on the Online Training Library. This 3-hour, 45-minute title is the first comprehensive, video-based course to be offered about using GREP specifically in InDesign. Starting with an explanation of what GREP is, and how to write expressions using metacharacters, InDesign CS4: Learning GREP covers both GREP Find/Change (CS3 and CS4), and GREP Styles (CS4) in depth.

Exercises demonstrated in the course include:

  • describing figure references in parentheses without styling the parentheses themselves
  • cleaning up inconsistent U.S. phone number formatting
  • describing every e-mail address in the world with one expression
  • simultaneously applying two or more character styles to the same text
  • dynamically preventing orphaned words at the end of a paragraph
  • converting and reformatting spreadsheet data from Excel to produce directory listings
  • inserting anchored objects with Find/Change
  • customizing a text cleanup script

Viewing the full course requires a paid account. However, 9 of the movies in the course are available for non-members to preview. For a 24-hour free pass to the Online Training Library, click here.

Episode 53…sort of.

August 5th, 2009 | Michael Murphy

What was going to be Episode 53 has morphed into an hour-long e-seminar for Adobe called “Fast and Easy Form Design and Distribution with InDesign and Acrobat.” You can watch the whole thing at

An Undocumented Bit of GREP Gold

February 2nd, 2009 | Michael Murphy

I was recently posed with a GREP challenge from a colleague that I thought would be relatively easy to solve in a dedicated GREP-savvy text editor like BBEdit, but it required something I wasn’t quite sure InDesign’s GREP Find/Change would handle.

The problem was this: removing duplicate lines in document of company listings. In this particular case, it was 10,000 companies, so doing it manually was not an option. In each listing, there was a company name and address. In some, the first line of the listing was duplicated on the second line, but not all listings had this problem. The challenge was to use GREP to determine which were the problem listings, fix them, but leave the other listings as they were. … (read more)

Episode 51: Introducing InDesign CS4

September 22nd, 2008 | Michael Murphy

Today, Adobe announces the Creative Suite 4 in all of its various iterations (Design Premium, Web Premium, Production Premium, and so on). This updated Creative Suite includes another evolutionary and significant new version of InDesign, and in this episode, I take a look at some (but by no means all) of my favorite new features including Smart Guides, Flash export, and GREP Styles.

Watch the episode here (14:14 | 51.7MB), or you can subscribe via iTunes.

Episode 45: The Magnificent Six (VIDEO)

November 18th, 2007 | Michael Murphy

Normally, I pick one InDesign feature and build a whole episode around it. However, this is the second anniversary of the podcast, and I wanted to do something different, and demonstrate that combining InDesign features is far more powerful than using them individually. In this episode, I use six different features … (read more)

Live from Boston: It’s The InDesigner

September 21st, 2007 | Michael Murphy

Last night, I delivered two back-to-back presentations at the Boston InDesign User Group meeting. The first was called “Styles Equal Substance,” in which I took a big picture look at what, to me, is the warm, beating heart of the entire application: Styles. Styles are everywhere, and they’re connected to so many features, you can lose track of how it all comes together. Fortunately, I’ve combed through the application to discover all of the connections between styles and the features with which they interact. My handout posted on the InDesign User Group web site has a visual representation of styles everywhere in InDesign.

The topic for the second half of the meeting was “Understanding GREP,” which covered the new, advanced Find/Change capabilities built into InDesign CS3 under the GREP tab. This is an amazing new feature. For my money, it’s the best improvement of the entire upgrade and something I’ll be talking about a lot in upcoming episodes and in one of my sessions at The InDesign Conference in Miami in February. Can’t make it there or wait to learn more? Then take a look at my other handout for the GREP session that’s posted on the meeting notes section of the InDesign User Group web site.

Grep Pattern Searching

January 20th, 2006 | Michael Murphy

In Episode 8, I mentioned how I used Grep Pattern Searching in BBEdit to search for patterns in my text, rather than searching for specific pieces of text. The value of this is that, even though the actual text varies throughout my text file, if the patterns are consistent, I can do very complex and powerful search-and-replace operations that keep that variable text intact, while changing elements of the pattern around it.

Here’s an example from real life: A monthly magazine column of new products. Each write-up starts with … (read more)