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How to Split Up a Single Page Into a Multipage Spread

So you’ve laid out an InDesign document on a single page, and now you want to split it into individual pages… Possible? Sure!

Let’s take an example of a trifold that was created on a single page, and now you want it on three pages:

Splitpages1

In the image above, the “1” in each text frame is an automatic page number—obviously it’s all just page one.

There are two ways to split this document. (Well, perhaps more than two, but I’ll describe two here.)

The Document-in-Document Method

The easiest way to “split up” a document into pieces is to place it into a new document that is the size you want. Remember that you can place one InDesign document (.indd file) into another, and it acts much like placing a graphic.

So, in this case you’d create a new 3-page document one-third the width of the original, and put a graphic frame on each page. On each page, add a graphic frame, and for each frame, choose Object > Fitting > Frame Fitting Options. In this dialog box, set the Align From icon to either align left, center, or align right.

For example, in the following image, I’m changing the frame fitting options for the frame on page 3, which will force the placed document to be “align right”:

Splitpages7

Now, use File > Place to import the INDD file three times—once for each page. Below is that same page 3:

Splitpages8

Notice there’s a problem here… the ‘automatic page number’ isn’t updating… it’s fixed at page 1, even though it’s technically the third page. And, of course, the objects on that page are static and not editable. If you want to edit it, you can Option/Alt-double-click on the graphic with the Selection tool to invoke “Edit Original” (which opens the placed InDesign file back in InDesign, of course!)

The Master Page Method

The second method actually leaves you with three individual pages with editable objects. First, create a new master page which is defined as a multi-page spread. In this case (below) I’m creating a 3-page spread with the width set to one-third the width of the original page width (remember that you can do math in the fields… in this case, division):

Splitpages2

Here’s the Pages panel after creating the new spread:

Splitpages3

Next, make sure these two features are turned off in the Pages panel menu: Allow Spread to Shuffle and Allow Document to Shuffle.

Now use the Add Pages feature (also in the Pages panel menu) to add one page before and one page after the page in your document:

Splitpages4

Note that in the image above, the auto page number (which I placed there just for demo purposes) has updated to page 2.

Finally, apply the new master page to your new multi-page spread. When you do that, InDesign asks which page size do you want to keep? The answer, of course, is “Use master page size”:

Splitpages5

The result? A three-page spread:

Splitpages6

Of course, it’s pretty rare that you’d need to do this, but when you need it… well, now you know how!

David Blatner

David Blatner

David Blatner is the co-founder of the Creative Publishing Network, InDesign Magazine, and the author or co-author of 15 books, including Real World InDesign. His InDesign videos at Lynda.com are among the most watched InDesign training in the world. You can find more about David at 63p.com.
David Blatner

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6 Comments on “How to Split Up a Single Page Into a Multipage Spread

  1. I think you’ve over-complicated this. If you turn off shuffling you can generally make a multi-page spread (page size determined by the panel size in the original doc) for each page of the original file, then place the original file pages once for each of the multi-page spreads. No special alignment issues or other fancy footwork required.

    • Peter, I’m not sure what you mean by “place the original file pages once for each of the multi-page spreads”… isn’t that what I describe above?

      • Not quite. Start with your first example, with three pages. Instead of putting a frame on each page, turn off shuffling and combine them into a single spread, then place the page from the original file across all three pages in one go.

        When you export or print the content will get trimmed to the appropriate page boundaries as if it were part of a bleed.

      • Peter: Ah! I see now. Yes, good point. My more complicated technique lets you literally move each page around separately later… but your technique would work for the vast majority of cases. Thanks!

  2. You’re welcome.

    Before the ability to place pages from one doc into another I used to do something very similar with select all/copy/paste, being sure both both spreads (docs) were centered in the window to preserve the alignment. I still do that now if I need to edit or reposition something, and you can turn on page shuffling again after if you need to rearrange pages.

  3. Here is another thought. I was under the gun to get this working so I ventured off into Master Pages. I created a Master B which was the two page spread that I wanted then applied it to the original document. My original problem: I had a user (staff member with limited knowledge of InDesign) create a half page document consisting of two pages. The goal was to print the document two sided on 8 1/2 paper then cut the letter size in half on the long side ending up with two sided Half Page Letter size document. The challenge was to get the half page to print two sided in a 2-up format on the printer. Well it seems InDesign was not designed to do that. I finally came up with a Master B with a two page spread and then applied that to the original document. This placed the two half pages facing each other. Once all the editing was accomplished and the document was approved as final, I then inserted a duplicate page and set the printer for letter size paper doubled sided and mission accomplished. David, thanks for the example and I will run through both yours and Peter’s method as all knowledge is good. Thanks for the help guys.

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