Learn About Adobe InDesign Eyedropper and Measure Tools

 By default InDesign will show you the Eyedropper Tool in the Tools Palette. However you will see that tool as another tool hidden in its flyout -- The Measure Tool.

Especially if you have used Photoshop, you know that with the Eyedropper Tool you can sample and copy colors so that you can apply them to various objects.

In InDesign the Eyedropper Tool does much more than that: it can copy character attributes, stroke, fills, etc. Double click on the Eyedropper Tool to see a list of things that eyedropper can copy.

If you have never used Photoshop or other desktop publishing programs before, you might not be familiar with Eyedropper at all. Let's take a closer look.

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The Eyedropper Tool - Copy Colors

Eyedropper and Measure Tools
The Eyedropper Tool has a flyout menu to access the Measure Tool. Image by J. Bear
  1. Set your colors to default (press D).
  2. Draw two rectangles and apply a color for fill and stroke to one rectangle.
  3. Go to the Control Palette and make the stroke 4pt thick.
  4. Leave the other box untouched.
  5. Click on your Eyedropper Tool. Your mouse cursor will change into an empty eyedropper.
  6. Click on the rectangle where you applied color and stroke attributes in step 2 Your eyedropper icon will convert to a loaded eyedropper.
  7. Click on the rectangle with no color. It should now have the same attributes of the other rectangle.
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The Eyedropper Tool - Copy Character Attributes

As I mentioned earlier, you can use the Eyedropper tool to also copy character attributes. There are two ways of doing this.

  1. Copy Character Attributes Within Same Document or Across InDesign Documents.
    With this method you can copy attributes from one InDesign document and apply them to text in another InDesign document. It also works within the same document.
    1. With the Eyedropper selected, click on text in your current document or another InDesign document to copy its attributes. Your Eyedropper icon will change to a full Eyedropper.
    2. With your full Eyedropper, select the word, words, or sentence, etc. to which you want to apply the attributes you just copied.
    3. The text in step 3 takes on the attributes of the text you clicked on in step 1.
  2. Copy Character Attributes Only Within the Same Document
    With this method you can only copy character attributes from within the InDesign document you are currently working on.
    1. With the Type Tool select the text which you want to change.
    2. Select the Eyedropper tool
    3. Click on the text where you want to copy the attributes from (not the selected text). Your Eyedropper will load.
    4. The text you selected in step 1 will take on the attributes of the text you clicked on with the Eyedropper in step 3.
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The Measure Tool

Eyedropper and Measure Tools
The Eyedropper Tool has a flyout menu to access the Measure Tool. Image by J. Bear

The Measure Tool allows you to measure the distance between two points in your work area and more. The simplest way to use it is by dragging it across the area you want to measure. Once you drag it, if your Info palette wasn't already open, it will automatically open up and show you the distance of the two points you have measured.

You can also measure angles by doing the following:

  1. To measure an angle from the x-axis, drag the tool.
  2. To measure a custom angle, drag to create the first line of the angle. Then double-click or press Alt (Windows) or Option (Mac OS) while you click the start or end point of the measure line and drag to create the second line of the angleBy measuring an angle as in point 2, you will also be able to see in the Info palette, the length of the first line (D1) and of the second line (D2) which you traced with your Measure tool.