GREP stands for Global Regular Expression Parser, which might sound intimidating, but the concept is pretty simple. In place of actual text, you can set wildcards that specify what you’re looking for.
Only want to focus on 4-letter words that start with the letter A? There’s a regular expression for that. For InDesign, you can home in on words that begin a new paragraph or words that start a sentence. The GREP style feature allows you to create formatting for precise words and phrases throughout your entire document, all at once.
The GREP Style Tool
In this video from Chapter 8 of our Adobe InDesign CC Training by Jeff Witchel, you’ll see a quick and dirty way for using the GREP style tool for formatting individual words and phrases without quite jumping into the word of regular expressions.
Going Further with GREP
Once you have a basic handle on what GREP styles can do, you can begin to learn some of the GREP wildcards you can use to pinpoint elements within your text for customization and search. A great place to start is Adobe’s page of GREP tips.
And if you’re really ready to go in-depth and get the most out of regular expressions, you can take a look at the O’Reilly eBook GREP in InDesign, by Peter Kahrel, which you can order online or access through a subscription to Safari Online.