Join David Blatner for an in-depth discussion in this video Align, distribute, and group, part of InDesign CC 2018 Essential Training.
- [Man] Whenever you have two or more objects on your page, you need to think about the relationships between those 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 items on the page. For example, how do you make two objects align just along their left edges? Well, I'm going to show you on the last page of this document from the Exercise Files folder. To get there I'm simply going to open the pages panel, scroll down, double click on the last page, and now I can close my pages panel again.
I want to align these four objects into a grid. I'll start by selecting this object down here, and I'll drag it around. You'll notice that a number of pink and green lines start appearing on my page. Those are called smart guides, and smart guides are really helpful for aligning things on your document page. When you see a pink guide appear, it means that you've centered that object on the page. In this case, a horizontal pink line means that the center of this image runs through the center of the page.
I'm going to move this image a little bit higher until I see three green vertical lines. That tells me that this image is aligned perfectly with the image above it. Now I'll select this image over here and drag this into position. I simply move it over to the right and down just a little bit until I see three horizontal grid lines. That tells me it's aligned with the object on its left. And finally this image up here I'll move down until I see a lot of green, horizontal and vertical lines telling me it is now aligned with the other objects in this grid.
So this is great. And you can also use smart guides to adjust the amount of space between objects. For example, I'm going to select this object here down below the other objects on the left side. Now if you squint you'll also see two little double-headed arrows in the space between those objects on the right side of the images. It's a little bit hard to see but when you see those little green arrows it means there's an equal amount of space between these two objects and the two objects above it.
Now, smart guides are great for aligning two or three objects on your page, 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 move all of these objects so that they line up along their left edges. I'm just going to move them around, so it's a little bit rough right now. But now I want to make sure they're aligned exactly along their left edges. So I'm going to select all of them by dragging thE selection marquee over them. And now I'm going to open the align panel.
To find that I'll go to the Window menu, choose Object and Layout, and then Align. Let's move this over here so we can see what we're doing. The align panel gives me a number of options for aligning and distributing my objects. And it's very visual, very intuitive. So for example, to align these along their left edges, I'm just going to click this first button, Align Along the Left Edges. One click and they're all aligned. Next I want to distribute the space between them equally so that I have the same amount of space between each one.
To do that I want to use the Distribute Spacing feature at the bottom of the panel. Don't use Distribute Objects. A lot of InDesign users make that mistake. I want to use Distribute Spacing when I'm controlling the amount of space between each object. So in this case I want to first move the top one up to the top of the page, and the bottom one a little bit up so it's aligned along the bottom of the page. There we go. Now I want to move the other two objects so that I have the same amount of space between them. I'll select them all, and then I'll come down to Distribute Spacing, and before I select Distribute Vertical Space I want to make sure the Use Spacing checkbox is turned off.
That's a cool feature and I'll show you how to use it in just a moment. But in this case I'm going to turn that off and now click Distribute Vertical Space. This way Indesign calculates exactly where each one of those objects should be so that I have an equal amount of space between them. Now on the other hand, sometimes it's helpful to specify a specific amount of space you want between them. For example, maybe I want just one millimeter between each one of those. In that case I would turn on Use Spacing. Then I'll come over here and type one millimeter.
Now when I click on Distribute Vertical Space I know that I'm getting exactly one millimeter of space between each one of those images. Okay, there's one more alignment trick that I need to show you. I'm going to go ahead and move these out of alignment again by moving this one over here and this one here, I'll grab this one and move it way over here. Now I want to align these along the right edge of this object, so I'll select all four of them again, and I could come over here and click on the Align Right Edge button in the align panel.
But that will align it not on this image but this one down here. Why? Because when you align along the right side it always aligns along the rightmost object, and this image down here is the rightmost object of the group. Align Left generally lines up along the leftmost object, Align Top always aligns along the topmost object. But in this case I want all four of these images to line up along the right side of this bicycle image. So to make it align on that one I need to do one more thing before I click in the panel.
I need to click the object. You'll see that when I do that it highlights with a heavy blue line. Technically that's called setting the key object. I've set the key object and all the other ones will key off of that. So I select all the images, then I click on the one that I want to be the key object, and then I'll click on Align Right. They all line up along the right edge of the key object. Now I'll click out here to deselect. Now whenever you have two or more objects that need to stay together on your page, consider grouping them.
For example, I never want one of these images to move without the other. So I'm going to click on the first one and then shift/click on the others to select all of them. Now that they're all selected I'll go to the Object menu and I'll choose Group. Or you could press Command G on the Mac or Control G on Windows. Now you can always tell a group on your page because it has dashed lines. See these dashed lines around the group? That means this is a single group, and if I drag any one of those objects they all move.
In fact InDesign actually treats this group as a single object. Now, grouping is great but it does come with one limitation that you should know about. All the objects in a group have to be on the same layer. If they're not on the same layer then Grouping will actually put them on the same layer. However the good news is that if you later ungroup the objects, they should go back to the layers they were originally on. 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.
- Creating a new layout
- Inserting pages
- Adding text
- Inserting graphics
- Applying color and transparency
- Drawing and editing frames and paths
- Formatting objects
- Formatting text
- Creating styles for uniform formatting
- Building tables
- Adding links and interactivity
- Printing and exporting InDesign documents