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Make instant colour swaps with global colours in Affinity Publisher

When you apply a colour to text or a shape it is added to the Recent list on the Swatches panel. Before selecting it there, think whether you’ll later want to change the colour everywhere it’s applied. If so, there’s a smarter way to manage and modify it.

Affinity Publisher provides a powerful feature, called global colours, that helps you to recolour multiple elements in unison.

Global colours help you deal with scenarios like experimenting with a new publication’s colour scheme or making colour revisions for a client.

Such tasks could take a long time under normal circumstances but are achievable in seconds with global colours.

Our example Affinity Publisher document, which uses the same (non-global) colour on several elements.

The example document shown above uses the same blue in three places:

  • The filled shape behind the section name (top left).
  • The decoration to the left of each picture’s caption, implemented in a paragraph style’s decorations.
  • The stroke around each of the two centre-column boxouts’ backgrounds.

We applied this colour by selecting it from the Colour panel in the first instance and subsequently from the Swatches panel’s Recent list—a convenience in some scenarios, but not here. The calm but cold blue isn’t quite right and we want to replace it with an invigorating orange.

To fix this for future flexibility, we selected Add Global Colour from the Swatches panel’s preferences menu, chose an orange shade and clicked Add to add it to the Document palette, where it’s distinguished from regular swatches by a white tab in its bottom-left corner.

Global colours can be applied from the Swatches tab wherever you can select a colour.

We retrospectively applied the global colour to each of the elements identified above. By planning designs with global colours in mind from the start, changes like this would have been instant.

Now let’s say we want to try another colour. Rather than editing it in several places again—the rectangle (inherited from our master page), our paragraph style, and the two rectangles on our publication page—we can double-click our global colour on the Swatches panel and select a different shade.

With our global colour applied in several places, editing it on the Swatches panel changes all instances at once.

As you select a colour on the wheel, all the places the global colour is applied update instantly. That’s the powerful, time-saving convenience of global colours. They allow you to get the job done in a fraction of the time!

Technical author

Alan is part of our technical authoring team and joined us from the world of magazines (MacUser), where he wrote up software techniques and worked on pioneering interactive digital editions. When he’s not neck-deep in page layouts, layer masks and adjustment layers, you’ll often find him digging through second-hand records for interesting sleeve artwork or gazing in wonderment at the graphical variety of Japanese video games.