Sorting Bulleted Lists in InDesign

Recently while teaching an InDesign class to a group of students, I was showing off a great new feature that was added to InDesign in CS5 which is the span/split columns feature. This feature allows InDesign users to span a multi-column text frame or split a single-column text frame into multiple columns. After showing off this feature, one of the students asked if there was a way to sort the bulleted items alphabetically after entering them or after inserting new items. My initial reaction was no. But then I remembered a somewhat hidden feature that has been InDesign for many versions now that could accomplish this task.

I started with a text frame with some bulleted items within the text.

A typical InDesign bulleted list

I then applied the split column feature to split this bulleted list into two columns.

Applying the Split Columns command

The bulleted list after splitting the columns.

Now for the fun part. Go to Window > Utilities > Scripts to display the Scripts panel. Open the disclosure triangle next to JavaScript to open that category. Next, highlight the bulleted items (tip: don’t highlight the return character after the last bulleted item), then double click on the SortParagraphs.jsx file in the Scripts panel.

Highlight the bulleted items.

Double-click on the SortParagraphs.jsx script

Specify sorting options

The Result

Admittedly the Sort Paragraphs script degrades as you have multi-word paragraphs to sort, but for most instances it does a fantastic job. I find sometimes that as new features get added to the Creative Suite Applications, we tend to forget about simple solutions that have been available to us for years. I hope you enjoy this post!

One Response to “Sorting Bulleted Lists in InDesign”

  1. Excellent Article!

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