Join David Blatner for an in-depth discussion in this video Using the Document grid, part of InDesign CS4 Beyond the Basics.
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We have talked a lot about guides; page guides, pasteboard guides, column guides, margin guides, but now I want to show you a different kind of guide that many users never even know is in the program, a Document Grid. A Document Grid is like graph paper for your document. Here, let me show you. I will go to the View menu, scroll down to Grids & Guides, and choose Show Document Grid; you can also use the keyboard shortcut Cmd+Quote. Some people like graph paper, they like having lots of little squares all over their document, but in this case, as you can see, the grid is behind all the objects, which is kind of ridiculous. You can't see any of those grid points.
So we are going to go to the InDesign menu on the Mac or the Edit menu on Windows and choose Preferences, and inside the Preferences Submenu I will choose Grids. Here we can see that the Grids in Back checkbox is on, which means of course that all the grids are going to behind all your objects so that you can't actually see them. So I will turn that off, click OK, and now we have what to my mind is a mess, but some people really like that kind of thing. So I am going to zoom into let's say 200% with Cmd+2 or Ctrl+2 on Windows, and we can see that there is lots and lots of gray lines. Some are lighter and some are darker. It's a little hard to see the light and dark on this page, but believe me they are there.
I will go back to the Grids pane of the Preferences dialog box one more time to show you that you can control the size and color of these grid marks right here in the Document Grid section. Color is obvious, you can choose light gray or any other color you want. Why don't we try grass green? That's attractive, and you can also change how large those squares are or even make them not square, you can make them rectangular, if you want, by changing the horizontal and vertical areas. Right now it's set to 25.4 millimeters, because that's one inch, but I could select that. I am going to set the grid lines to 50 millimeters, both horizontal and vertical, because I want these to be square grid marks, and I am going to set the subdivisions to 10, which means that I am going to have a line every 5 millimeters. Click OK, and we can see that we now have lines every 5 millimeters down on the page and there are all grass green.
Now, the Document Grid is different than other kinds of guides in InDesign because you can snap to it even when it's hidden. I will show you. I will go to the View menu. I will go down to Grids & Guides and turn Snap to Document Grid on, and then I will turn that grid off by pressing Cmd+Quote or Ctrl+Quote on Windows. Now, its gone, but if I start dragging this object around, its actually snapping to those points; snap, snap, snap, even though it's actually an invisible grid behind there. So you have to be very careful about when that Snap to Document Grid is turned on and off. I have talked to a number of users who get really frustrated because it seems to be snapping to something invisible and they don't realize that someone at some point went on their system and changed this to Snap to Document Grid. So just turn that off and now you don't have that snapping before any more. Really helpful.
The Document Grid is not for everyone. To be honest, I don't think I have ever really used it for one of my projects, but if you need a customizable grid and you need it fast, you are going to be super happy that the folks at Adobe stuck this one in there.
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- Integrating with Illustrator