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By Colleen Wheeler | Saturday, June 23, 2012

This week's featured five: Using InDesign master pages

Recently a lynda.com member wrote in asking for advice on using master pages in InDesign. Master pages allow you to place recurring items like page numbers, footers, or headers on multiple pages throughout your document automatically. Not only does this save time and energy, but it also gives you a one-stop location for updating a title or graphic globally later on.

InDesign Master page screenshot

An example of an InDesign master page in the Pages panel.

For this week’s featured five free videos, I’ve pulled together five tutorials from five different courses to give you a solid understanding of how to use master pages in different contexts. As a bonus, you’ll gather up some other useful InDesign tips along the way, as each author explains in his own way how to work with this useful feature.

1. Introduction to master pages If you’ve never created a master page before and you’re new to InDesign, this first video from chapter four of Up and Running with InDesign will get you started without presuming too much prior InDesign knowledge. Author Deke McClelland starts from square one, showing you how to place a graphic header and folio with page number on a newly created master, and how to apply your new master to existing pages you’ve already created in your document.

2. Setting up a master page for a magazine layout In this excerpt from chapter one of Designing a Magazine Layout Hands-on Workshop, author Nigel French shows you how to create the master page elements that you’d want for the interior of a magazine layout. You’ll see how to consistently place the headers and footers, format them appropriately with rules and mirroring, and set up automatically updating page numbers.

3. Creating master pages strategically for a book or other long documentThe next tutorial is from chapter one of our Creating Long Documents with InDesign course. When you’re working on a long document like a several-chapter book, author Mike Rankin encourages you to set up your master pages strategically by first creating a base master, then placing additional master pages with tweaks that might be desirable for different kinds of spreads like body copy and chapter openers upon that base. This strategic layering will give you greater flexibility as the project grows, and keep you from having to set up completely new masters as the project expands.

4. Overriding master page itemsOf course, once in a while, you’ll find that a particular document page doesn’t work quite right with all of your master page elements. Since the role of master pages is to hold those repeating objects in place, you can’t move, delete, or even select master page items on a regular page. In this excerpt from chapter four of InDesign CS6 Essential Training, author David Blatner explains how to override a master page with the handy Command+Shift+click shortcut (Ctrl+Shift+click in Windows), which frees an object from its master and assigns it directly to the document page. At that point, with the object assigned directly to the document, you can edit or delete it as you choose. If you change your mind and want it back, David shows you how to restore master page items as well.

5. Making sure master page items aren’t covered by document objectsFinally, in episode number 39 from the InDesign Secretsseries (Moving master page items to the top layer for visibility), David Blatner demonstrates how placing your master page items on the top layer of your document ensures that they aren’t covered up by the occasional graphic or text frame on a running page. If you’ve ever experienced the mysterious missing master item, then this advice is for you.

For features like master pages in InDesign that don’t quite warrant an entire lynda.com course on their own, it’s nice to be able to round up this collection of useful tutorials with different information, approaches, and bonus tips.

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