Skip to main content

Master Pages

Lesson 16 from: Adobe InDesign CC Intermediate: Beyond the Basics

Erica Gamet

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2200+ more >

Lesson Info

16. Master Pages

Lesson Info

Master Pages

So let's jump into our master pages as well. Like I said, by default you have one master page that is usable, and then this None. So basically None master page means we have no master page items. And what a master page is for, is for anything we want to appear on every page, or every page that that master is applied to. So for instance, on this error report that we've been working on, I only have one thing on my master page and in that case, it is the page numbers. And that's because I know that I want my page numbers to appear on every page throughout my document. So I have some right hand page numbers, and some left hand page numbers. And so in this case I have just one set of masters. Many documents I use have many, many, many masters, but in this case, every page in this document seems to be pretty, you know, unique, you know we have a just a different set of color blocks, each page kind of does it's own thing, so nothing was so repetitive that I felt like having a master page was ...

worth it, because if it's going to take you time to set up a master page but you only use it once, it's really not saving you any time. So just keep that in mind, do I need a master page? Maybe, it may be something as simple, simple as page numbers, so keep that in mind. But at anytime I can decide I don't want page numbers to be there, let's grab a page here, and I can decide that I don't want page numbers here, so what I can do instead, let me zoom in a little bit here, is I can tell it None, I can grab this None master page which has absolutely nothing on it, we can't do anything to it, it's just completely blank page, and it's not editable. But I can grab it, and how we apply master page is we just drag it and drag it on top of another item. So I'm gonna grab it and drag it on top of this page six which I'm on, I know it says page four, document page six, we didn't start the numbering until page three. So I'm gonna come in here and just drag it over on the left hand side, and now that page number went away because I assigned that master page of None which has nothing on it. Gonna undo that and bring it back. And in this case you notice that our master pages, there's actually two of them, if I fit that in the window I can see that this master page has two pages applied to it, and that's because I am using these master, these, sorry, facing pages. So I'm using a right and left page, and I might need each one to look different, in fact this one does. Page numbers are on the right over here, and on the left on this page, so when I create a whole new spread, I wanna make sure that they have this master page setup. In fact I can go ahead and just select both of those, and I'm just gonna drag this down, and I'm gonna drop it in right after page 15, cause I wanna make sure that is still the last page, but I need a whole new set of pages right after page 15. So, I'ma let go, and it automatically drops it below so I've got 14 and 15 and now here's my new pages, and they already have the page numbers on there for me. And so I already have that set up because I used these two masters that are here. So when I created these masters, or if I wanted two more that were fairly similar, I could go ahead and say new master, and I can tell it how many pages I want my master page to be. And in this case I want to keep these as two pages because I'm working in two page spreads. We're gonna jump back to the single page document in just a minute. Alright so I could tell it two pages, I'm not gonna change any of these settings right now, I'm gonna show you in just a minute what we're doing with those. So I'll just say okay, that's a new master, and there's basically nothing on that, so I can put whatever I want on this page to appear on those master pages. So if I decide suddenly that I want my page numbers to be really huge, and that's all I'm gonna do is just put a really huge number here, and I'm gonna type the number, we're not gonna do automatic page numbers just yet, we'll do that in just a minute. I'm just gonna type this so we can see in on the thumbnail so we'll just put page number 12 here, and we'll decide that goes here and we'll put another one over here, and I'll right justify those. So I have those on, that's what my new masters look like and now I can apply this master page to pages, we have 14 and 15, let me double check here my numbers, 16 and 17, alright, so we're gonna move here, we'll say master page, and we're gonna apply master page to pages 16 and 17. Alright, we're gonna save that B master, okay so now, 16 and 17 have that applied. Again, the numbers that I put on there, don't worry about that, I'm gonna do automatic numbering in a little while. But I just wanted something that was on that page and I can change it at any time, and decide actually I want these masters to be applied. Grab them, drag them on top, drag each one on top there and now I have those applied to that page. And it's not stacking them on top, it got rid of everything that was there, and then just put the stuff from that master page. But at anytime we can decide, I didn't really want anything there, let's grab None and drag it on each side. Now None is only a single page, so I have to drag that single page onto both. Doesn't really matter because there's nothing on it. Let's jump back to this single page that we came up with here. Come over here, this one, and so now what I wanna do is I wanna add some things on the master page, I'm gonna get rid of this guy, and I want to start building my hierarchy of my master pages. And you can build master pages that are based on other master pages. So for instance that page number one, I could have a page number one that also has a graphic down the side and ones that don't have the graphic down the side. And I use them in different cases, but they're basically the same except one has a graphic and one doesn't. So I would build those on each other, kind of like I based styles on other styles, I can do the same thing with the master pages. So I'm gonna come back here to master page, to master page A, and I can change that name to start with because what the prefix stands for is just so that it shows up here in the different pages, so I need to be able to see that prefix. You might have something that says, you know CH1, so it's chapter one or something like that, you can change what that prefix is. I'm gonna come over here and just go to the master page options for master page A. Now master page I generally put everything I think I need on that page, on that particular page. So I might leave the prefix the same, that's fine, and instead of calling it master, I might call it, I might put top master just because that is the one that everything else is going to be based on and as I base other styles, I'm sorry, other pages on it, I can either add or subtract from what's on this page, and then that way everything lives on this page and when I make a change to it, it's gonna ripple down through all the other pages. It's based on no other page and it's one page. It's only this one page here cause we're working with single pages. And on this page I might put stuff like, again I double clicked on it to make sure that I'm actually on the page, I might put something like my chapter here my book title, so or we call this what, the annual report was the Cybus Systems Annual Report and we'll Make this kind of bigger and we'll make that bold. Alright so we'll put that there on the master page, I can now see on all the other document pages that that title is there. I also can see if I zoom in on this, I can see that I can't select this text on any of the document pages, and I can also see that it's got a dashed line around it, that way I know it belongs to a master page. I don't know which one necessarily, but I do know that it's attached to a master and I can't accidentally move that. I'm going to show you how we can make some changes to that in just a little while, but for right now we're going to leave this on the master page, gonna shorten this up a little bit. Other things we might need on any master page is we might want page numbers. So I'm gonna go ahead and make some page numbers and I'm gonna make them kind of big and up high here so we can see them, might not be the best design, but at least we'll be able to see them a little bit better. And I'm going to right justify that, just did my keyboard command for that, and I'm going to go ahead and, I'm going to type in, I like to type in what I call the fattest number, I wanna make the number as big as I can, because I want to make sure that it's going to show up in that text frame, that I won't get that overset text, that little red plus, so as my automatic page numbers draw, I wanna make sure that that frame is big enough to accommodate it. Now if you'll notice, I'm going to put right and left hand page numbers on this page. Again, everything's gonna live on this master page, and then I'm going to base other masters on in, and then I'm going to delete what I don't need on each of those pages. And think of it as if I need to change the name of this title, suddenly we decide you know, the company gets bought out and I gotta change the name of the, the company I don't wanna have to change it on several master pages, I can just change it on master page A, and it will ripple down through all pages that that's based on. So again that's why I'm putting it all on master page A and I'm never really going to apply master page A to any of my document pages once we get this going. I'm gonna option, drag this item out, I want it to be, just right across the page from there and I'm going to left justify that, command or control shift, and then L, and I just have that sitting here where I can look and see what the document pages look like, good they all look exactly the same like the master page A. And then I'm also going to come in here and I'm going to create where I'm going to have the chapter title. And right now I'm just typing chapter title, we're gonna automate that in a little while. Alright so I'm gonna do that and maybe make this italic, oops they don't have an italic so I guess we won't, well we can make that a medium if we want, alright and I'm just gonna leave that right there for right now as well. So now what I need to do with this master page, is that I need to create a right version of that and a left version of that. So I'm going to go ahead and go up to the pages panel menu and I'm gonna choose new master and I can call it B or I can call it chapter pages, whatever I want, I want to keep my prefix again kind of short because it's going to appear on the thumbnails. I can give it a name and in this case I'll call it right and maybe I'll put chapter start just so I know that this is on the chapter start because I do have the chapter title, but I'm gonna create a whole nother page that's a subset of this one that doesn't have the chapter title. So that's why I want to indicate this as chapter start and it's based on master page A, and it's one page. Alright so I'm gonna leave that, the size is exactly the same. Alright so I'm good, now I have the right and left, I'm sorry, the main one and the right one, and I need to create a left one. I'm gonna create a new master, and again they all look the same right now and I realize that I'm gonna call this left, chapter start also based on master page A, and say okay. So now they all look the same but on this A or B and C, I can't select any of those items, because all those items belong to the master page A. So how do I get items off to master page? Well I need to do a couple extra keys to get this to work, and this is whether or not I'm trying to pull master page items off a master page, and it belongs to a different master page or if I'm trying to pull master page items off a document page. Either way this works the same, if I can't click on it it belongs to a different master page, I need to be able to pull that off. Well in this case this is our right hand page, so I only need the right hand page numbers, so I need to get rid of the left hand page number. So to do that, I'm gonna hold on the shift key and the command key, or control key on a PC, and then click, and that let's me gain access to that particular frame that's there. And I don't need it, so I'm just going to hit delete. And we do the same thing on the left page, I'm going to click on the right one, command shift or control shift, click and delete. So now I have my right page and my left page. Right and again, I'm not doing anything with this A master. In a minute we're gonna assign other masters to those document pages. And the reason I do that is if I decide suddenly I don't want this to be here, I can change this or do whatever I want, and it will change down through all those pages that are based on that. Let's come back to master page A and B. So now I need to actually assign these to specific pages. So I can drag this on top, this is a right page, so I know page one is a right hand page, and also page three is a right hand page, I can also select this item and go up into apply master pages, apply master two pages to which pages. Now I can individually list them here, unfortunately I can't choose odd or even, which would be great, but it doesn't let me do that still, so I'm gonna come in here and I'm gonna assign this as my left hand page, to pages two and then four, so two comma four, we'll say okay. So now I have a right hand page, a left hand page, a right hand page and a left hand page. Gonna shrink this up a little bit, now if I had a right hand page, if I had this one here, and I want something else that looks like this but maybe doesn't have the title name on it, cause that's just what we do on the first page, I can create a whole new master page based on that B. So, new master, and I'm gonna go ahead and call this right and then I'll just put, we'll just put, pages. So it's everything but the start page and it's based on this master page B. So right is based on chapter start, right chapter start. So okay, and now, it looks kinda the same, now I can move it if I don't mind my prefixes being out of order, I can rearrange where these sit, sometimes I like to put so the right hand pages are all together, and the left hand pages are all together. But basically the thing I need to remove from here is this chapter header. So it belongs to a master page, gonna shift command shift control click on that, and delete it. So I have my start pages and my internal pages. And because we only have four, I'm gonna leave the start ones there. I just wanted to show you that we would set up each of these we'll create this new master, base it on this C, which is the left start, in this case it's just gonna be left pages, and on left pages we can move this up and we're gonna remove that chapter title. So again we have the right hand start right hand regular page, left hand start, left hand regular page. All based here, nice thing is I can say oh I don't like where those page numbers sit, let's select them and move them up even higher and now that ripples down through all the master pages that we had in here. Alright let's actually do something with this numbering. Right so we wanna actually change this numbering cause obviously we don't need every page to be page eight, eight, eight. We wanna change that up a little bit, so what I'm going to do is I'm going to go to the master page and that's where the numbering sits. And I'm going to now put in automatic page numbering. So right now I'm just going to go ahead and select this type that's here, and go up under the type menu and come down to insert special character, markers, current page number. And when I do that, it's going to give me an A, and that's because that's what page it's sitting on. Anyplace else I have that page number sitting it says C, E, and then if I go down to the page numbers I have those applied, I have page number two and page number four, there we go. So again it's rippling down through all of those, you need to do the same thing, I'm back on master page A select this text that's here, go up under object, I'm sorry, type, insert special character, markers, current page number. So it's exactly the same thing, but now it ripples down through now I'm at page B, D, C, and E, and then also page one, two , three, and four. That's why we put it all on one page, so that as we have all these other pages that look similar, I don't have to change that in a bunch of places. Now granted, I would probably set up a style for this, and I could change the paragraph style here, but knowing that I have the position as well is great, in fact, the other reason I wanted to be on a master page and to be able to ripple down through it is that I can make changes to individual items even if they, even if it's as little as move something. So for instance, if I on master page D let's say, I decide on the one's that aren't the opening chapters, I can also move where that sits, so I can go ahead and grab this item, again I'm holding the shift and command down to do that, and I can move the page number down on the right page, and maybe you want to do the same thing on the left page, override that and move it down, if I make changes to this, maybe I decide to change the color of that, I come here on swatches we'll make that orange, and go back to pages, I can look and see that even though I moved those into a different position, they automatically update. Oops, I'm sorry, I'm totally wrong on that, because it's automatic page numbers it won't do that, so I'm gonna actually undo everything I just did. Moving those down, so I'll move this back so those are not so they're back onto the master page that they were, let's move that guy back up, and select that guy, there we go. Because it's text, it didn't work. What I wanted to show you is that when you move something or make a change to something, like with styles when we based it on other styles, only the things that I've overridden remain overridden, everything else that's in common remains the same. Except when you're working with text, because once you move that, it knows you're gonna change text anyway, so it doesn't continually update that text. So unfortunately it didn't work with text, which is what I wanted to show you. But let's say on this page here, or even let's put this on the master page, the top top master page. I'm gonna put just an item on here, just a graphic or just a shape, and we're gonna come ahead, go ahead and put in some color just so it looks different here. And then I am going to see that that appears on every page because every document page, every master page has that applied, and then obviously every document page that has a master page applied also has that teal. But what I can do is, I can decide on page one, I don't really like where it sits, and I can override that, shift command and then move that down, down lower here and then if I go back to the master page, and I change the color of that swatch to orange and go back to the pages panel, I can see that even the one that I moved to down, and it's not really, it's still sort of connected to the master page, but I can move it and I can do things with it now because I've already moved it and detached it slightly, but it still maintains all the other things that I do to that object, for instance changing the color, so all I told it was it's the same but it sits in a different place, that is the one override that I made. So as I make updates to it, it will continually update from it. If I'm on this page, and I decide that I don't want it there I could just delete it. But maybe I want it there, but I don't want it, maybe I even want it back where it was, I want it back in this position here, but I don't want to be attached anymore to the master page. I could actually override that as well, if I go up into the panel menu, come down to the master page sub menu, and say detach selection from master, it will look exactly the same as it does, and where it's sitting, but it has no connection at all back to the master, even if I move it or I change the color, anything like that. I don't usually do that, I don't want to detach it, I could also remove those selected overrides, so everything I just did by moving it down and pulling it off the master page, I can say remove that, and it jumps right back to where it was, and now I can't select it again. So at any point I could bring it back to what I had. Also if I've messed it up, and I've maybe selected this item and moved it here and I moved the page number by mistake, and then I also maybe selected this chapter title and deleted it, at any point I can say that's not actually what I wanted, and I can bring the master page back to it if I want. But usually what I do before that, is I come in here and I say None, I wanna make sure that I get rid of any master page items that are there, and then I'm gonna bring back this master page. And I'm gonna go ahead and remove all local overrides. So I wanna make sure that I have everything that's a local override, and I wanna go ahead and remove that local override, maybe, it's not letting me do it, I'm gonna delete those items that are there. Because I put None, every item that I overrode stayed on that page and became just disassociated with that master page item at all. So by bringing that back I did None to wipe out any master page items, bring that back in with a new master page and then anything that I had moved was suddenly just a page item that I was able to put back on there.

Ratings and Reviews

Marianne Stewart

I've been using InDesign for a decade, and decided to take this class to see what else I could learn. Wow! Erica taught me ways to do repetitive tasks easier, faster, and cleaner. She showed me many, many ways that I wasn't using InDesign to it's fullest potential (and now I am!). Her teaching style is very thorough and in-depth, but also easy to follow and understand. I highly recommend this class!


Great class, but as a former professional typesetter (before InDesign, PageMaker and QuarkXpress), Erica uses the term "Justified Left" incorrectly! (sorry!) There is no such thing. Justified refers only to text that spans the width of it's column from edge to edge. The spacing in-between words will vary. Used primarily in newsprint where the columns widths are narrow. The other proper terms for text alignment are: Flush Left Ragged Right (or) Left-Aligned Flush Right Ragged Left (or) Right-Aligned Centered Justified The oddball is "Justified". It's the only option where word spacing is variable. This is the least desirable because it creates "Rivers and Valleys" of white space that distract the eye. Letter and word spacing can be tightened or tweaked to improve the overall look, but at cost in time.


Great class and very informative. Erica’s a good instructor. Given the volume of information presented I’d like to see class materials included. It makes the course much easier to follow.

Student Work