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Beware of groups “on the edge”

While editing a file created by someone else, I selected a group, pressed command-shift-g to ungroup, and received the following error message. I was stumped. 


Its always more difficult to edit files created by others, because its often far from obvious how the file is constructed. In this case, I had a visible group right in front of me, and I was simply trying to ungroup it. I thought "What do you mean, the objects would leave the pasteboard? I'm looking right at 'em!"

After a little troubleshooting, I discovered that the group contained an object that was entirely off the edge of the pasteboard. The rule is that a group can "hang off the edge" of the pasteboard. But an individual object cannot exist outside of the pasteboard boundaries. An individual object can extend beyond the pasteboard boundaries, but cannot be dragged entirely off of the pasteboard.

So the solution in this case is to either a) move the group so that all of the group elements appear at least partially on the pasteboard before ungrouping, or b) go to Preferences > Guides & Pasteboard and increase the dimensions of the pasteboard before ungrouping.

If you want to recreate this error message, do the following:

1. Create a blank InDesign file.

2. Draw a couple of squares, and group them, like so:


3. Drag the squares up so that one of the squares is positioned entirely off the pasteboard.


4. Ungroup the squares, and you'll receive the error message.


5. Go to Preferences > Guides & Pasteboard and increase the vertical dimensions of the pasteboard. Now you should see both squares, and can ungroup successfully.



Keith Gilbert
Keith Gilbert has worked as an independent consultant and educator in the design industry for 25 years for clients such as Apple, Adobe, Best Buy, Cargill, General Mills, Lands? End, Medtronic, Target and the United Nations. His work has taken him throughout the US and Canada, as well as to Barbados, Kenya and Monaco. He is an Adobe Certified Instructor in InDesign, InCopy, Illustrator, Photoshop and Acrobat, and the Chapter Representative for the Minneapolis InDesign User Group. You can read his Tips & Techniques Blog at
Keith Gilbert

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3 Comments on “Beware of groups “on the edge”

  1. I hate when that happens!

    I’ve found that I can also select the group and find the guilty object by running through them in the layers panel or using select next object after select content.

  2. I’ve had that happen when I’ve carelessly created a group after “selecting all” and accidentally grabbed something like an empty text frame on the pasteboard. My solution is also to check the layers panel so I don’t have to move things around.

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