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Whenever you have two or more objects on your page, you need to think about the relationship of those two objects. Stacking order is one kind of relationship; that is, which is in front of the other. Another kind of relationship is aligning, or distributing objects on the page. For example, how do you make objects align just along their left edges? Let's zoom in on this page, and see if we can line up these objects. As I drag one of these objects around, you will see little green lines flashing on and off. Those green lines are smart guides, and smart guides make it really easy to line up objects.
When I drag this image, so that it's aligned with the image on its left, I see a green line across the top of both objects. Now I know that they are snapped right to align along their tops. I will drag this image over to the left, and when they are aligned on their left edge, I see a green line going right through their centers. Technically this means their centers are aligned, but because these objects have the same width, I know that means their left edges are also aligned. Finally, I will drag the fourth object over, until I see two green lines; one going through the middle of the one above it, and one going across the top of the object to the left of it.
That means it's aligned with those objects. You can also use smart guides to adjust the distribution of space between objects. For example, I will drag this object up until it's aligned with the one to its left. Now I am going to drag the one between these to the left and right until I see two arrows. You see those green arrows just below the images? They are double headed arrows; a little bit hard to see, but when you see those, that means that there is equal space to the left and to the right of this image.
Smart guides are great for aligning two or three things, but if you have a lot of objects to align, it's much easier to use the Align panel. For example, let's say I want to align all these images up against their left edges with one click. I'll move them around, so that they're roughly in the right place, and then I will select all four of them by Shift+Clicking. Then I'll go to the Window menu, choose Object and Layout > Align. The Align panel gives me a number of options for aligning and distributing my objects.
It's all very visual; very intuitive. To align these on their left edges, I would click on this first button: Align Left. One click, and they're all aligned. Next I want to distribute the space between them equally, so I have the same amount of space between each one. To do that, I simply click on the Distribute Spacing button. The top and bottom objects remain exactly where they are, and all the other objects move, so that we have equal space between them. Sometimes it's helpful to specify a specific amount of space that you want between them.
For example, maybe I want exactly one centimeter between each of these objects. To do that, I need to turn on the Use Spacing checkbox, and I will specify my amount here. I will say I want 1cm. Now I'll click on the Distribute Spacing again, and I know that I have exactly one centimeter of space between each object. Here's one more alignment trick. I will zoom out a little bit, with the Command+Hyphen, or Control+Hyphen to zoom out. I am going to move these objects around to get them out of alignment again, and this time I want to align them right on this second one.
I will select all four of these, and I could go over to the Align panel, and click on the Align to Top, but the Align to Top always aligns to the topmost object of that group. Align to Bottom always aligns to the bottommost object on that group. What if I want to align to one of the objects in the middle? I want this one to stay stationary, and the other ones to move. To do that, I need to go over to the Align panel, and click Align to Key Object. This is a new feature in InDesign CS6: Align to Key Object.
You'll see that one of these objects is selected: this one in the lower right corner. It has that big, thick, red line around it. But if I click on a different object in this group -- there we go -- now it's highlighted. So any alignment I make now will align to that object. I'll choose Align to Top; there we go. All four of them align to this object. I love InDesign, because it gives me incredibly precise control over every object on my page, which is exactly what I need to build high-quality documents.
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