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InDesign: Make Master Page layout changes affect all existing text-fields

Written by ajdf on January 2nd, 2012 1:12 am 5 Comments
Posted in Uncategorized

I am currently doing a 350 page book typesetting and layout project. Although I have done this before, I tend to not use In Design for long periods of time between each project and then forget some very important features. These features become extremely important for dealing with long documents. I am going to write down some fundamental things I learned today so that I do not forget again and hopefully I’ll help someone else searching for the same solutuion.

Multi page documents are where InDesign skills are truly tested

Master Pages

You must understand master pages in order to deal with any document bigger than 3 pages. That’s the rule of thumb. Master pages are not that difficult to master ( in contrast to the name! ).

You must master master pages

You can have many master pages and apply them to different sections of your book (common in magazine design) but for something like a novel, you tend to only need one or two if it is a novel type document. In the example above I have 2 custom master pages:

  1. One for the main pages called ‘A-main-doc-pages’
  2. One for chapter heading pages called ‘B-ChapterHeadings’.

The idea of master pages is to setup all the basic layout rules and elements that you wish to be applied to pages within your document, such as grid columns, page margins and page numbering. For this project my main master pages contain the page numbering object for left and right pages, the margins… and that’s it.

You import your multipage word (or any other format !)¬† text document, holding down ‘SHIFT’ as you drop it on to page one and In Design auto generates the number of pages you need, creates text boxes according to the masterpage guides you set up and ‘Hey presto’ your book is ready to be styled with paragraph styles and character styles etc. Now what happens if after you have done lot’s of work on it, you decide you want the bottom margin of every page to be 4mm higher? This is something that happened to me. I wanted more white-space at the bottom of each page.

Changing your mind about the layout / columns / margins – here’s what you need to know:

Logic would say that when you would alter your master page and all those pages referenced by the master would adjust accordingly.

Let’s see: Go to the master page, select ‘Layout > Margins and Columns’ from the menu make the required alteration, in my case it is changing the margin for the main grid columns. This changes it on the master page. However, it will NOT change it on all the existing text-fields to which the master pages are applied to, it will only change the guide – NOT the content that is already there.

This made me panic and think that perhaps I’ll have to go through each page manually adjusting each text box to the new guide.

Don’t panic, there is a great but subtle solution.

Margins and Columns

Here is the solution to adjusting your layout in master pages and having it affect all the pages to which your master is applied…

  1. Go to the master page you wish to edit by double clicking on it…
  2. Go to ‘Layout > Layout Adjustment’
  3. Tick that wonderful box that says ‘Enable Layout Adjustment’
  4. ‘Layout > Margins and Columns’ and edit whatever it is you wish.
  5. Job done… all those pages should¬† adjust their existing text-fields and content ( only content which was originally inside the grid guides will move however ).

Enabling layout adjustment is the key

In my case it was ‘bottom margin’ by 2mm. All text fields under that ‘Master Page’ adjust to fit within the new guides. If you have graphic objects such as photos in your book, you can select ‘Allow Graphics and Groups to Resize’ and any objects which fall within the layout will shift into the new margin accordingly.

5 Responses

  1. Emyr Tabrizi says:

    Good tips mate ! … Did an InDesign job the other day, was quite surprised by the amount I’d forgot.

  2. Thanks for the help. I was always having trouble with setting this up.. But I’m good now.. Thanks to this :)

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  3. THANKS A MILLION TONS :)
    This just saved me a couple of millions of hours of work, LOL!

    Have a great summer AJDF!

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