As a design agency that solely works within Publishing we deal with a lot of words. In order to meet our clients’ budgets and deadlines we have to be at the top of the game in terms of technical ability as well as creative ability when working with these words to create beautiful educational materials for learners.

That’s why we love pushing the design software as much as is humanly possible. One of the tools we use within InDesign is the more sophisticated search and replace function GREP. It’s like being a software programmer but for people who work with words!

We asked Duncan, one of our senior designers, to give us his top 4 reasons as to why you should use it too (or ask us to help you):

1. Quickly & effectively helps to tidy up manuscripts. A basic example of this would be to use GREP to remove any unnecessary double spaces or multiple paragraph breaks and tabs.

2. The use of wildcards allows us to search and replace a lot of text in one pass, making the formatting throughout a document as consistent as possible. For example, tabs after numbers in lists, and changing hyphens to en-dashes where necessary.

3. GREP can be combined with Character Styles and integrated into Paragraph Styles. This allows us to automatically apply Character Styles to certain text when the Paragraph Style is applied. We can use this to automatically avoid orphans and widows, keep leader lines with their corresponding exercise number, or apply a style to figure references.

4. Change non-standard characters. We’re sometimes asked to use a certain typeface but replace one of the characters with one from a different typeface. For example, we may need to use an infant ‘a’, or a sans serif with arms on the ‘I’ – these could be replaced automatically within the Paragraph Style.