Thanks for coming to, the world's #1 resource for all things InDesign!

Modifying Polygon Shapes

Did you know that InDesign CS2 lets you change the number of sides and how much “inset” a star or burst has for a polygon you’ve already drawn?

At first glance it’s impossible. If you double-click the Polygon Shape or Polygon Frame tool in the Tools palette to open the Polygon Settings dialog box, then modify the field settings (Number of Sides, Star Inset %) and click OK, nothing changes in your layout. Even if you had a polygon shape (with different settings) selected when you changed the field values, clicking OK doesn’t affect the selected shape. It just sits there like a lump, mocking you. We’ve all tried this (Client: “Can you make the all the bursts in this more … burst-y?”), and we’ve all learned that the settings only apply to new polygons you create after you close out of this dialog box.

But CS2 offers us a back-door way to get what we want. It’s called Convert Polygon. You’ll find it in two places: The Object menu (Object > Convert Shape > Polygon) and the Pathfinder palette (the hexagon icon in the Convert Shape series of icons). Selecting any sort of frame in your layout and choosing Convert Polygon from either place changes the selected frame to match the current measures in Polygon Settings.

So …. first, make sure that the Polygon Settings dialog box has the “new” settings you want – double-click a Polygon tool, enter your new settings, and click OK.

Then select one or more frames in your layout and choose the Convert Polygon command from the Object menu or click its icon in the Pathfinder palette. The selected frame(s) instantly changes to match your current settings. It even works if you had selected a mixed bag of polygons with varying number of sides or insets; and yes, it works with non-polygon frames too (like rectangular image and text frames).

In fact you could do a Select All on a spread to select every object, choose Convert Polygon, and watch them all (even lines!) change into triangles or stars or bursts or whatever. If the frame had content – text or an image – the content is preserved, as are any custom stroke or fill settings.

This workaround will have to sustain us until Adobe figures out a way to let us specify Polygon Settings in an Object Style (or even pick-up and apply them with the Eyedropper tool). They’ve got Corner Effects in there, so there must be a way!

Anne-Marie Concepcion

Anne-Marie Concepcion

Anne-Marie “Her Geekness” Concepción is the co-founder (with David Blatner) and CEO of Creative Publishing Network, which produces InDesignSecrets, InDesign Magazine, and other resources for creative professionals. Through her cross-media design studio, Seneca Design & Training, Anne-Marie develops ebooks and trains and consults with companies who want to master the tools and workflows of digital publishing. She has authored over 20 courses on on these topics and others. Keep up with Anne-Marie by subscribing to her ezine, HerGeekness Gazette, and contact her by email at or on Twitter @amarie
Anne-Marie Concepcion

Latest posts by Anne-Marie Concepcion (see all)

  • - November 30, -0001
Related Articles

5 Comments on “Modifying Polygon Shapes

  1. Hi Anne-Marie,

    Thanks for the heads – up on that. In Paragraph rules, by adding a rule above or below, you can actually make that text dynamic, so that the basebar or burst only appears when there is text … I was wondering if it’s possible to do this with a polygonal shape…



  2. Pingback: InDesignSecrets » Blog Archive » Turning Polygons to Starbursts in InDesign

  3. Thanks, Annie-Marie, for sharing the Modifying Polygon Shapes” InDesign CS2 tip! Hooray!! It’s a shame the program was created without an easier modification option. It’s been irritating to redo shapes these past few years. I should have thought to check the internet for an answer long before now.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *