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Aligning and distributing objects

From: InDesign CS6 Essential Training

Video: Aligning and distributing objects

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.

Aligning and distributing objects

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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This video is part of

Image for InDesign CS6 Essential Training
InDesign CS6 Essential Training

113 video lessons · 82831 viewers

David Blatner
Author

 
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  1. 1m 23s
    1. What is InDesign?
      1m 23s
  2. 2m 38s
    1. Welcome
      1m 0s
    2. Using the exercise files
      1m 38s
  3. 21m 19s
    1. Getting started
      3m 33s
    2. Adding or editing text
      3m 23s
    3. Adding or replacing graphics
      4m 31s
    4. Moving objects around
      4m 55s
    5. Printing and creating a PDF
      4m 57s
  4. 26m 6s
    1. Exploring the application window
      6m 25s
    2. Navigating and magnifying pages and objects
      6m 24s
    3. Setting rulers and measurements
      2m 35s
    4. Working with panels
      3m 58s
    5. Setting the view quality of artwork
      2m 31s
    6. Adjusting view and preview settings
      4m 13s
  5. 27m 52s
    1. Creating new documents
      7m 39s
    2. Saving and reverting documents
      4m 2s
    3. Saving for CS4 and CS5 with IDML
      2m 24s
    4. Setting the margin and column guides
      4m 29s
    5. Putting ruler guides on the page
      5m 7s
    6. Bleeding colors or images off the side of the page
      4m 11s
  6. 23m 37s
    1. Inserting, deleting, and moving pages
      4m 32s
    2. Changing page size
      4m 38s
    3. Creating and applying master pages
      5m 18s
    4. Overriding master page items
      2m 43s
    5. Adding page numbering
      2m 22s
    6. Changing page numbering with sections
      4m 4s
  7. 52m 47s
    1. Understanding text frames
      3m 38s
    2. Typing and editing text
      4m 48s
    3. Inserting special characters
      4m 1s
    4. Importing text
      3m 47s
    5. Threading text frames
      3m 12s
    6. Setting text frame columns
      4m 31s
    7. Setting text inset and vertical justification options
      3m 48s
    8. Allowing text frames to grow and shrink
      4m 5s
    9. Putting text on a path
      5m 50s
    10. Using the Story Editor
      5m 10s
    11. Checking spelling
      5m 12s
    12. Using Find/Change
      4m 45s
  8. 28m 19s
    1. Importing graphics
      8m 20s
    2. Using the Links panel
      7m 17s
    3. Editing graphics in their original app
      3m 10s
    4. Fitting graphics to the frame
      5m 1s
    5. Taking advantage of image transparency and clipping paths
      4m 31s
  9. 35m 49s
    1. Selecting objects
      5m 2s
    2. Applying basic strokes and fills
      5m 6s
    3. Colorizing images
      1m 59s
    4. Adjusting transparency
      4m 4s
    5. Adding drop shadows
      3m 33s
    6. Using other transparency effects
      5m 15s
    7. Copying and formatting with the Eyedropper tool
      5m 59s
    8. Finding and changing object formatting
      4m 51s
  10. 18m 34s
    1. Creating color swatches
      4m 33s
    2. Understanding the danger and power of unnamed colors
      5m 46s
    3. Creating gradient swatches
      3m 53s
    4. Applying gradients
      4m 22s
  11. 15m 27s
    1. Editing frame and path shapes
      5m 8s
    2. Adding rounded corners and other corner options
      4m 8s
    3. Making polygons and starbursts
      1m 59s
    4. Creating text outlines
      4m 12s
  12. 37m 56s
    1. Positioning objects with the Gap tool
      3m 54s
    2. Stacking objects
      2m 5s
    3. Creating and controlling layers
      5m 27s
    4. Managing objects in the Layers panel
      3m 33s
    5. Grouping and locking objects
      3m 10s
    6. Nesting objects
      3m 23s
    7. Aligning and distributing objects
      4m 20s
    8. Understanding text wrap
      5m 51s
    9. Using anchored objects
      6m 13s
  13. 26m 16s
    1. Duplicating objects
      5m 37s
    2. Collecting, conveying, and placing content
      8m 58s
    3. Rotating objects
      2m 22s
    4. Scaling objects
      4m 21s
    5. Skewing objects
      1m 8s
    6. Mirroring objects
      3m 50s
  14. 24m 19s
    1. Applying basic character styling
      7m 31s
    2. Applying advanced character formatting
      4m 28s
    3. Changing case
      3m 23s
    4. Using Find/Change for text formatting
      5m 3s
    5. Using Find Font
      3m 54s
  15. 32m 51s
    1. Applying formatting to a paragraph
      4m 4s
    2. Spanning a paragraph across multiple columns
      2m 10s
    3. Splitting a paragraph into multiple columns
      1m 52s
    4. Using drop caps
      3m 26s
    5. Setting tabs
      7m 36s
    6. Adding rules (lines) above or below a paragraph
      3m 23s
    7. Adding automatic bullets
      4m 10s
    8. Numbering paragraphs
      6m 10s
  16. 19m 47s
    1. Creating and applying paragraph styles
      6m 10s
    2. Using character styles
      4m 45s
    3. Editing and redefining styles
      2m 20s
    4. Using object styles
      2m 47s
    5. Applying styles with Quick Apply
      3m 45s
  17. 39m 59s
    1. Creating a table
      4m 29s
    2. Adjusting rows and columns
      4m 36s
    3. Adding and deleting rows and columns
      3m 0s
    4. Formatting a table
      4m 32s
    5. Formatting cells
      6m 2s
    6. Applying table styles
      5m 33s
    7. Placing graphics in cells
      3m 1s
    8. Importing Microsoft Word and Excel tables
      8m 46s
  18. 16m 45s
    1. Building a multi-document book
      7m 27s
    2. Creating "continued on..." jump lines
      3m 51s
    3. Constructing a table of contents (TOC)
      5m 27s
  19. 23m 8s
    1. Exporting EPUBs
      6m 12s
    2. Creating an interactive PDF
      12m 49s
    3. Building a Flash SWF
      4m 7s
  20. 28m 1s
    1. Checking a document with the Preflight panel
      5m 26s
    2. Packaging for output
      3m 34s
    3. Using the Print dialog box
      4m 52s
    4. Printing a small booklet
      2m 46s
    5. Exporting a PDF
      7m 56s
    6. Exporting text
      3m 27s
  21. 1m 25s
    1. Next steps
      1m 25s

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