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Tip of the Week: Using Live Distribute

This InDesign tip on using Live Distribute was sent to Tip of the Week email subscribers on June 23, 2016.

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by Michael Ninness

You’ve worked hard to distribute a series of objects in your layout, all of them aligned at their tops and equally spaced. You then realize you need a bit more space between each object. So you select the farthest object on the right, move it a bit to the right, select the rest of the objects, and then click the Distribute Horizontal Centers button in the Align panel. And then you repeat all that again because the spacing between the objects still isn’t quite right. Sound familiar?

There’s a better way—use a hidden feature called Live Distribute! Simply select your objects. Then, press and hold on a transformation handle and hold down the Spacebar as you drag. Voila! Instead of resizing the selected objects, you end up resizing the space between the selected objects while you hold the Spacebar down. For extra bonus points, pause for a second after pressing on the transformation handle before dragging. Pausing first will allow you to see the objects as you redistribute them.

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Comments

One Comment on “Tip of the Week: Using Live Distribute

  1. “So you select the farthest object on the right, move it a bit to the right, select the rest of the objects, and then click the Distribute Horizontal Centers button in the Align panel”.

    No, I don’t. I use the Distribute Horizontal SPACE button, with the “Use Space” checkbox deactivated. This equalizes all the spaces between the objects. A feature so useful that I assigned a shortcut to it (and to its vertical counterpart, too).

    Besides, the Live Distribute feature doesn’t apply the same distance when the objects have different widths (or heights, if you’re doing it vertically). You can verify this with a simple test: create 3 objects with different widths and use the Distribute Horizontal Space to equalize their distances. Then, use Live Distribute to gradually SHORTEN the distance between them, until they touch one another. Ideally, the distance should remain equal all the time and eventually all three objects would simultaneously have zero pixels between them. However, this is what happens: the first and second objects will overlap before the second and third objects touch each other (or vice versa, depending of the widths of these items).

    Therefore, Live Distribute may be a convenient feature, but not that useful when you need the exact same distance between items.

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