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17. Grids and Guides

At first glance, InDesign’s ruler guides work in much the same way they do in many other programs. You can simply pull a guide from the vertical or horizontal ruler and drag it onto the page. Ruler guides that are dragged and released over the page appear only on the page, while guides released with the mouse over the pasteboard extend over both the page and the pasteboard—across all pages in a spread.

However, InDesign’s ruler guides act just like page elements, so you can select one or more guides at a time, copy and paste them, and even position selected guides numerically using the Control or Transform palettes. Guides, like any other object, can be placed on a layer. As with all other objects, a guide belongs to the layer that was active when you create it.

Customizing Ruler Guides

Using the Ruler Guides feature from the Layout menu (see Figure 17-1) you can choose these options:

  • View Threshold. Determines the magnification above which a guide is displayed and below which a guide is hidden. This is equivalent to when you Shift-drag as you create a guide in QuarkXPress.

  • Color. A guide is displayed using this color when it isn’t selected. When you select a guide, it appears in its layer’s color.

Because InDesign works with guides as objects, you can change the settings for one or more guides simultaneously by selecting the guides before choosing the Ruler Guides command. Or, to change the default settings for future guides, choose the Ruler Guides command when no guides are selected. You can also access this feature with the context menu (Control- or right-clicking on a guide).

Treating guides as objects takes some getting used to, but there are great benefits. For example, you can use the arrow keys to nudge one or more selected guides slightly. If you need to create more than one guide, you might want to place one on the page and then use the Step and Repeat command (on the Edit menu) to repeat it at regular intervals. (You can also use the Create Guides command described on the next page.)

Here are a few other guide tricks.

  • To convert a page guide into a pasteboard guide (one that extends across a spread and onto the pasteboard), hold down the Command/Ctrl key while you drag it.
  • If you know where you want a pasteboard guide, you can place one quickly by double-clicking in the ruler at that point. For example, if you want a horizontal guide at 4 inches, double-click at the 4-inch mark on the vertical ruler. Even better, hold down the Shift key when you double-click and InDesign will snap the guide to the nearest ruler tick, so you don’t have to worry if your cursor is positioned exactly where you want the guide.
  • You can place a horizontal and a vertical guide at the same time by Command/Ctrl-dragging from the intersection of the two rulers. Or, better, Command-Shift/Ctrl-Shift-drag to snap the guides to the nearest ruler ticks.
  • When you copy and paste one or more guides, InDesign always remembers the guide’s position on the page.

Locking Guides

Note that guides, like any object, can be locked in place by selecting Lock Position from the Object menu. You can also lock all the guides in the document at once with the Lock Guides feature in the View menu. Finally, you can lock one or more guides by placing them on a locked layer.

Deleting Guides

To delete a guide, just select it and press the Delete key on your keyboard. This is very different than the “drag out of the window” method that XPress uses. You can delete all the guides on a spread at once with—ironically—the Create Guides feature (below).

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