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Changing Master Items

In PageMaker, you can’t edit master page items on master pages. In QuarkXPress, it’s too easy to edit them. InDesign strikes a balance. If you need to modify a master item on a document page you must Command-Shift-click/Ctrl-Shift-click on it with any tool. This also works to select parent items on a child master page. After selecting a master page item, it then becomes a part of the local document page. This is called overriding the master page item. You can override all master page items by choosing Override All Master Page Items from the Pages palette menu.

When you override a master page item, you can make local changes to it. For example, you can override a master frame and then change the thickness of the stroke around the frame. However, changing the stroke thickness only overrides this one attribute; the fill color and other attributes are still linked back to the master page item. If you change the fill color on the master page, it does update on the document page, even though the object has been overridden. If you don’t want any link between an object and its original master page, first override it and then (while it’s selected) choose Detach Selection From Master from the Pages palette menu. Detaching means there’s no longer a link to the master page item.

Note that the act of overriding an object always breaks the link to a frame’s content. That is, even if you just override a text or graphic frame and then don’t actually change anything else about it, the content (the text or the picture inside the frame) is no longer linked to the master page.

You don’t actually need to select master page items when placing imported text or graphics. InDesign is smart enough to know that if you click a loaded Place icon on a master page frame, the master frame should accept the content. That means that you only need to override a master page item when you need to change something about the object.

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