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How to create guides shorter (or longer) than the page

When you drag a ruler guide onto the page, the guide extends from page edge to page edge (if you drag with your cursor in the page area) or from pasteboard edge to pasteboard edge (if you drag with your cursor on the pasteboard).

But what if you want a guide that is shorter than your page, or slightly longer? Here is a hack technique that you can use to achieve this. In the tutorial below, I’ll describe this technique with specific dimensions. But once you’ve seen how this works, you can obviously use your own dimensions for your own purposes.

1. Create a new document, with a page size of 5 inches x 5 inches.

2. Turn to the master page, and add a couple of guides to the master page.

3. Turn to page 1.

4. Select the Page Tool in the Tools panel, and click on page 1.

5. In the Control panel, change the width and height of the page to 8.5 inches x 11 inches.

6. If desired, use the Page Tool to reposition the master page “overlay” outline on the new, larger document page if desired.

7. Click on the page with the Selection tool, and you’ll see that the guides are now shorter than the page.

You can also make the document page smaller than the master page, in which case the guides will hang off the page partially into the pasteboard.

What is this good for? I don’t know, exactly. If nothing else, someday you might open an InDesign file created by someone else and discover guides that are shorter than the page. It could also be useful for creating custom guides in a template. You could also use it to create an alternate set of “margins” to indicate a “safe zone” for object placement as shown in the example below.

Keith Gilbert

Keith Gilbert

Keith Gilbert is a digital publishing consultant and educator, Adobe Certified Instructor, Adobe Community Professional, conference speaker, author, and contributing writer for various publications. His work has taken him throughout North America, Africa, Europe, and Asia. During his 30 years as a consultant, his clients have included Adobe, Apple, Target, the United Nations, Best Buy, General Mills, Lands' End, and Medtronic. Follow him on Twitter @gilbertconsult and at
Keith Gilbert

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11 Comments on “How to create guides shorter (or longer) than the page

  1. That’s pretty neat actually. You never know when this technique might come in handy.

    I’ve got another hack for the pages panel too. I was working on a gate fold project. And at some point in the middle they decided they wanted to add a die cut, so now the 3 pages of different sizes wasn’t big enough to hold the diecut. So I add a new page to the document, to the size of an oversized A3 sheet. And then moved the oversized A3 sheet under the 3 pages containing the gate fold.

    It worked.

  2. OK, that’s cool, but I’ll really applaud when you show us how to make a guide on an angle! I don’t mean rotating an object and snapping to that either…

  3. @Branislav: When you copy and paste the guides from a small master page to a larger master or document page, they grow and extend to the edge of the page. Also, when you override the master page guides on the document page, they automatically extend to the edge of the page.

  4. Don’t know what I’m doing wrong, but I can’t reproduce the effect. PageWide guides stay PageWide (grow or shrink with page size as I expect it to do) as do the ArtboardWide guides.

    What I could use is making guides out of an object, a guide on an angle, or a smart-X-hight guide. This would reduce the (huge) amount of guides on my page a lot!

  5. Hmm, that’s odd. It DID work for me, but that’s the first time I’ve used the Page Tool. I would be concerned though with printing a file like this. Document setup still thinks it’s a 5×5 file. Will this mess up a service provider? What else would this affect? Such an interesting concept. And apparently I need to learn more too, about the Page tool. :)

  6. The guides may look small, but they work as if they filled the page. I think it would be useful if the guides only worked on the x and y where they are located, so objects out of the cross guides (in your example) would not snap etc.

  7. @John: When I try this, the guides act exactly as you want them to: snap to guide does not occur when over a “blank” part of the page. Of course, if your guides are in the middle of the page, then objects will snap to the centers of pages or other objects (if Smart Guides is enabled).

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