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5 Baseline Grids

A baseline grid can be your best friend when creating documents that require a clean, structured look. Far from constraining your design possibilities, baseline grids are liberating, taking the hassle out of trying to figure out where to put things relative to other elements on your page. InDesign’s implementation of baseline grids is elegant and efficient.

In your grid preferences, choose the baseline grid increment—the same as the leading of your body text—and whether to begin the grid relative to the top of your page or your top margin. Specifying an offset amount means that the grid starts where you need it to and that you don’t clutter up your page with unnecessary grid rulings.

To minimize the visual clutter, choose a subdued color for your grid and set a View Threshold percentage: a size below which the grid disappears. Zoom out to a Fit in Window view, and the baseline grid disappears. You may also find it useful to choose a custom increment for your Vertical Ruler that is the same as your baseline grid increment. To make sure your text conforms to the grid you’ve established, set the Paragraph Style options for your body text (and all styles based on your body text) to Align to Grid: All lines. You may find it useful to set your captions, subheads, and other supporting styles to First Line only.

Figure 05a Figure 05b Figure 05c

Figure 5a, 5b and 5c The Baseline Grid preferences (A); aligning paragraphs to the baseline grid at the style sheet level (B); and the same document with a baseline grid (left) and without (right).

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