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A Visual Guide to InDesign Preferences

InDesign has a lot of preferences that control the way it looks and behaves. In all, there are 20 sets of preferences in a dialog box with hundreds of individual settings. And it’s very important for any InDesign user to understand which of those preferences apply to the application as a whole, and which ones only affect the current document. But the dialog box itself gives you no clue. That why since CS 5.5, I have been producing a visual guide to InDesign preferences, with document-specific preferences highlighted.


The guide is free to download. You just need to be a member here at InDesignSecrets to get it. If you’re logged in with either a free or premium membership, the download link for the guide appears below. Enjoy!

Premium or free members, please log in at the top of the page, or become a member of InDesignSecrets.
Mike Rankin

Mike Rankin

Editor in Chief of, InDesign Magazine, and Author of courses on InDesign and Illustrator. Husband. Dad. Dog walker.
Mike Rankin

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18 Comments on “A Visual Guide to InDesign Preferences

  1. Mike,

    At the top of the page, there is a note, ‘Premium Content’. You say, ‘logged in with either a free or premium membership’. Before I send a note to my colleagues who ought to have this info., could you confirm that a free membership is sufficient to retrieve this file.

    Thanks, Lindsey

    • Hi Lindsey- Yes, anyone who is logged in here, with either a free or paid membership can download the guide. Thanks for asking. I’ll remove the premium tag since it is confusing/misleading.

  2. So you put some yellow boxes on a few of the options on the preferences panel, what did this accomplish in defining what they do or how to adjust them to your workflow?

    • Hi James-

      As the post says, the point of the guide is to show at a glance which of InDesign’s preferences apply to the application as a whole, and which ones only affect the current document. In other words, it highlights which preferences might change when a document is opened by another user. This is undocumented by Adobe. It’s not meant to be comprehensive documentation on InDesign prefs.

      • I understand that they are ONLY affecting the document but any info on why or how would be much more informative. If it’s very important for any InDesign user to understand what affects the current document, any information helps. The type settings and the many ways to set up individual documents could be detailed minimally. Thanks tho!

      • It’s not a manual. It’s a simple visual guide to document something that is otherwise undocumented and can cause problems for some users.

  3. If I understand this correctly, the original document authors’ settings will over-ride any local settings if different? So, if someone has their ID settings differently (e.g.: Use typographers quotes was off*), when I open that document it will turn off typographers quotes for me so the document will look identical (but only for that document).

    Therefore if I were pasting approved text between two open documents it is possible that I would be pasting from one with convert quotes turned on to another with convert quotes turned off? Wow, I guess I’d get some kind of warning though, yes?

    I did not know this? He signs off and carefully reads the rest of the article.

    Thanks once again guys!


    PS: * I know that’s a whole other argument!

  4. Thanks for this helpful information. I have created my own set of InDesign Preferences with screen draws. Do you have this in a .pdf file format, if so not clear on how to download. Many thanks for your continuous efforts to clarify Adobe.

  5. Hi Mike,

    Everyday, I’m watching the I learn new things from here. Thanks for sharing a good knowledge, and InDesign Contest really superb to participate and find out the answer. I’m waiting for the next contest!

    Keep it up….. :)

  6. This is a really great reference, Mike. Thanks for providing it. I’m planning to upgrade to Premium membership!

  7. Hi,

    I signed up for the free membership but there doesn’t appear to be any “download link below”. Help please?

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