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

Put a Guide Where You Want It

A recent post on CreativeTechs reminded me that we hadn’t talked about guides in InDesign for a while. In it, Craig points out how useful it is to hold down the Shift key when you drag out a guide from one of the document rulers. The Shift key tells InDesign to snap the guide to the nearest ruler tick mark. I love that little trick. And did you know that you can double-click on a ruler to add a guide at that point? Even better, you can Shift-double-click on the ruler to add a guide at the tick mark nearest the point you clicked. It’s so easy!

And don’t forget the cool “measure with a ruler” tip Anne-Marie came up with, and my post on how to select or delete all your guides at once.
While we’re at it, here are a few other guide tricks you need to have under your belt:

  • If you let go of a guide on the page, it’s a page guide; if you let go on the pasteboard, it’s a pasteboard (or spread) guide. But if you’re over the page and hold down the Command/Ctrl key, you’ll always get a pasteboard guide.
  • Never forget that guides are just objects in InDesign, so you can select them, adjust their position with the arrow keys on the keyboard or the measurement in the Control panel, put them on layers, lock them, use Step and Repeat with them, and so on.
  • If you spend time setting up your guides on a page just right, re-use that work! You can copy and paste selected guides to a new page and they remember their geometry (where they were on the page). You can also export selected guides as a snippet (using File > Export). When you import that snippet into a new document, the guides all come in at the same location (if the document page sizes are the same).

There are many other fun guide tricks out there, including this one about coloring guides by Pariah. Anyone else have some fun guide tips to share?

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 are among the most watched InDesign training in the world. You can find more about David at
David Blatner

Latest posts by David Blatner (see all)

  • - November 30, -0001
Related Articles

31 Comments on “Put a Guide Where You Want It

  1. Great tips, they’re all really cool.

    Aren’t guides one of the most essential things in InDesign and also the most overlooked.

    One thing I like to do to create a starting template for a page containing a lot of pictures is to use the Layout>Create Guides and you can make guides and gutters for columns and rows, to the margin settings or to the page edge.

    It’s a great way to start laying out pages with a lot of pictures, I find.

    Another useful thing you can do with a guide is to select it and in the X or Y guide you can simply type in after the measurement +10mm, for example, and hold down the Alt Key (on windows) and it will duplicate a guide 10 mm from where you were, and it works with minus too.

  2. I love the fact that a guide will snap to an object.

    Select the object you want to snap the guide to and pull out the guide. While dragging get your cursor as close as possible to a center handle and the guide will snap into place.

    Handy when you need to have two objects right next to each other.

  3. Snapping guides are Good, yes, and. But I’m pining for InDesign to get Smart Guides like Illustrator and Photoshop has. That will eliminate the need for a lot of now-necessary auxiliary guides — like Bob’s example of placing two objects next to each other. Isn’t Smart Guides such an *obvious* ID CS4 addition that Adobe would have to be real dumb/stubborn/lazy/impoverished to not give us that feature? It’s often amazing the kind of great Feature X which is in Adobe App A but not in Adobe App B.

  4. Fritz, I think I love you! I couldn’t forget the script because I didn’t know about it before…but I do now! ;-)

  5. I always experience a “wow” effect when I show people how easy it is to unlock the column guides and change the widths of the columns. It is quite useful for fan folds or if you use marginalia.

  6. This is sorta on topic. Ever since getting CS3 when I make a new document it opens the rulers in picas. So I go up to the preference menu and change the Units and Increments to inches. It is only a temporary fix. When I have to make another document I put in 8.5 in by 11 in and it once again opens the rulers in picas. Is there a way to keep the preferences changed so the spread stays in inches?


  7. This is a very helpful site. InDesign is one of my favourites in CS3…just one query… How do you automate guides in InDesign. In freehand you could set guides at intervals of 10mm or any specific number. I havent found that function in InDesign yet, please help.

  8. Lumkile: You can place a guide at regular intervals in several ways, including adding one guides, then selecting it and choosing Edit > Step and Repeat.

  9. Hi, your tips are great for putting a guide at the nearest ruler tick. But how do I place a guide at a specific dimension in between ticks such as 9.54?

  10. @Parish: In that case, you’ll probably need to select the guide with the Selection tool and adjust the value in the Control panel.

  11. Is there a way to send a guide to the back and not have it sit on top? I often mistakenly move a guide when I want to move an object instead and I’d rather not have to lock the guide in place.

  12. @Cherry: The only way to do it is to set all the Guides behind in the Preferences dialog box.

  13. I am having trouble understanding how to move a guide to a specific point; i.e., if I am creating a tri-fold and cannot use equal guides. I saw the answer above which said to use the selection tool and change it in the Control Panel but I don’t know where in the Control Panel to do that! Can you help? Thank you.

  14. @Carey: It should be in the X field (for a vertical guide) or the Y field (for a horizontal guide). In fact, it’s probably the only thing in the Control panel not grayed out.

  15. Distribution: I like that you can select multiple guides and apply distribution to them! This lets you drag six (or so) guides onto a document, set the top/bottom or L/R positions where you want evenly distributed guides, then select the boundary and intermediary guides and distribute them. — Or you can distribute them with spacing.
    Change Direction: If you start to drag a guide in from the wrong axis, you can change the orientation of the guide by pressing cmd. This toggles the guide 90 degrees. — This only works when you are making the guide.

  16. Can ruler guides be rotated at 45 degrees in indesign? it very accessible in Corel Draw. How can I make it work in indesign. I’ll appreciate and answer please.

  17. @agadamahu: No, can’t be done.

    (Apart from that, Corel Draw is more like Illustrator. And, hey, in Illustrator you can draw angled guide lines!)

  18. Hello!
    I have a situation here. It mustoff happen`to anyone: in a document, I don`t duplicate pages already maded, but I have to put a similar object in the same position as in other page. When I copy/paste it it goes chaotic, not on the same spot. For that to work we can use guide lines; but there`s a problem too: we can`t move guide lines from a page to another for us to put objects in the same spot!

    So, how you do it, moving/copying guide lines in other pages or even put them in a layer (better!!) to have them around??! tks

Leave a Reply

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