The baffling 'save as default' star

A recent mishap with overridden font defaults has led me to realise that I genuinely do not understand how the star button works, or why it can’t be a normal Save as Default button, as in other options dialogs. Yes I’ve looked in the manual, but there’s just one sentence, copy-pasted into a few places:

I also found this quote in an old thread:

Neither of these are able to make me understand the complete behaviour of that button. If—as I understand it—it’s a one-way operation (switching the star from empty to filled = saving as default) then why is it a toggle switch? What does it do, what does it mean if I click again to make a filled star empty? When and why exactly will the star be greyed out and unclickable?

There’s a surprising lack of questions about this on the forum. Does this mean it’s perfectly clear and intuitive to everyone except me, to the point that not even the manual needs to explain it fully?

To the best of my knowledge, the star is greyed out for factory default things – stuff Dorico provides automatically, always.

I’m also fairly certain that un-filling the star for a custom paragraph style (say) that you had previously saved as default, then removes it from your user library – it stays in the current project and any other projects you’ve already used it in, but it will no longer appear in new projects automatically.

Do you want to say a bit more about the mishap you had, for more tailored advice about what’s gone on there?

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Thank you! I think I get most of it now. This does also explain what went wrong in my case: I wanted to experiment with a different house style without changing any of my defaults, so I went through the Font Styles and Paragraph Styles dialog, taking care to un-toggle the star before making changes to any of the settings. The next new project after that had quite a few things unexpectedly reverted to factory.

I still don’t get the greying-out though. Here’s an example of one of my paragraph styles. The star is filled and clickable, and you can see quite a few settings (ie: more than one) have an ‘override’ toggle. When I un-toggle any one of them, the star gets greyed out. And it stays that way regardless of whatever settings I change afterwards, until I close and re-open the entire dialog window.

In conclusion, an extra paragraph in the manual detailing the how and why of this button would be dearly appreciated…

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Yes, I recently wanted to revise my default Paragraph Styles, and I seemingly had to:

  1. Make the change.
  2. Press OK and leave the dialog.
  3. Return to the dialog.
  4. Click on the full star to make it hollow.
  5. Click on the hollow star to make it full.

Is that expected?


I’ve never really understood this, and it has always just seemed buggy to me, but that’s how I have to do it too. I often have the additional steps of:

  1. Open my userlibrary.xml file
  2. See if the “save as default” star actually worked or not
  3. Manually make the change if it didn’t


When the star becomes greyed out, Dorico is telling you that the paragraph style is already saved in the user library and thus can’t be added. However, it only becomes disabled when certain kinds of updates are carried out in the dialog, and in general of course the button should always be enabled because it should be possible to remove the style from the dialog by clicking it again so that it becomes unfilled.

Although there’s a lot of common logic shared between the various library editors, because the actual nuts and bolts of how specific types of library items work vary, there is also a fair amount of custom logic for each editor, and the paragraph/character style dialog is probably the most complex of all of them.

I will try to find the time to review the cases in which the star button becomes disabled in the paragraph styles dialog, but it’s never something I particularly look forward to!


There is one thing I actually tried to do and did not succeed : change the size of a paragraph style by default. It always reverts to the initial value, which was not right… I will try and follow exactly the steps described in this thread (although I believe they are what I have been doing) and will report here.

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If you have an existing default already saved, as soon as you make a change to an element, the solid “save as default” star is grayed out, and an asterisk appears next to the style indicating that there has been a change to the saved settings. Once the asterisk appears, there’s no way to save the new setting as a default without closing and reopening the window. This seems less than ideal.

Once closed and reopened, the “save as default” star is no longer grayed out, and the asterisk is gone, even though the change made in the previous window remains. This just seems wrong to me. To the user it appears like the default has been correctly saved, when it has not.

Now that the asterisk is gone, the user can click the star to change to the outline, then re-click it to save as a default. I would think this would then save the new setting as the default, but if you check the userlibrary.xml file it does not. This seems like a bug to me. It seems like there has to be some condition change for Dorico to accept the new setting as default.

The successful workflow with the fewest number of steps to change an existing default seems to be:

  1. Open Paragraph Styles
  2. For the style you want to change, click the solid star to change it to an outline
  3. Make the change you want (triggering the asterisk to appear, and the star to gray)
  4. Hit OK to close Paragraph Styles
  5. Open Paragraph Styles
  6. Change anything with the style you want to save (so asterisk appears, but star does not gray this time), then change to the setting you actually want.
  7. Click the star to make it solid
  8. Click OK

That workflow seems reproducible for me anyway when I confirm with my userlibrary.xml. The opening and closing of Paragraph Styles, and the unwanted change to trigger the asterisk seems pretty unnecessary and not intuitive from a user standpoint though.