InDesign Master Pages: No Big Deal!

This is part of a series. Here is a complete list of current posts in my InDesign Beginner’s Cheat Sheet.

Setting up your masters is one of your most important steps; these govern your format throughout your POD book.

***Click on the images for a larger version. You can then use CTRL/COMMAND + +(plus sign) to enlarge the image still more.***

Typewriter publish

Like much in InDesign, the process is easier than it looks.

Throughout this post, you’ll be working only on your masters. Once they’re done, you’ll be ready to spring forward into entering text.

If you are eager to include some kind or graphic or design element, for example on the first pages of chapters, you’ll need to consult that how-to book I suggested that you buy. I am not going to discuss graphics in these posts. In my view, you don’t need them to create a perfectly respectable book.

As you work, always look for the “Preview” box and keep it clicked so you can see your changes as you apply them.

Note that whatever you do on the masters will show up on every page in your book unless you specifically set the master to “none” (easily done; I’ll explain in an upcoming post).

These are poorer quality screen shots than I’ve been able to get in the past. I’ve included captions to make what’s going on in each a little clearer. The comments in the captions match the steps in the main text.

You will have already entered your margins, which will show up in the masters. As a general rule, the only other things you want to set up on the masters are your running heads—your name and the book title—and your page numbers.

Remember that you made the top margins larger than the side margins? Your purpose in doing so was to make room to add your running heads.

I’m going to discuss a couple of options for headers. Headers rather than footers seem to be the more common location for author name and book title, although you can use these instructions to place anything you choose in footers as well. The principles are the same.

Masters with guide

Not a very clear screen shot, but the line on the right points to the guide that will allow you to align your running heads. On the left is the Pages Panel with the Masters icons circled, and the Tool Menu with the Black Selection Arrow and the Text Tool indicated.

Step 1: Open the Pages panel. If you don’t see it, go to Window–>Pages. Double click on the double icon above the spread to bring up the masters in your workspace.

Step 2: Choose the black-arrow selection tool in the tool bar that appears by default on the left of the workspace.

Position the arrow in the ruler at the top of your workspace and double click.

Step 3: Now you can drag a “guide’ down onto your masters. It should extend across both master pages. Position it roughly where you want to establish what I’d call your “actual” upper margin, the top of your headers. Ingram requires a margin of at least 0.5 inches, so don’t position the guide any closer to the upper edge of the document than that.

You need this guide to make sure the running heads on the left and right pages align with each other and with the page numbers if you choose to enter them separately from the text, for example, in the upper right and left corners in a header where the other text is centered.

Masters with text boxes at edges

Here, I’ve used the Type Tool to create two text boxes and the Black Selection Arrow to position the boxes in the outer corners of the pages. Both boxes are currently selected; as in most apps, you can simultaneously select multiple objects by holding down the shift key as you click.

Step 4: Select the type tool (the icon in the tool menu is a capital T).

Step 5: Click with the text tool above the top margin. You’ll be able to draw a text box. If you created a guide, the top of the new box should align with the guide. Draw this box pretty wide and deep so that it will be large enough to contain all the text you need to enter.

You can position this box by simply using the black selection arrow to drag it around. If you want it on the outsides of your pages, it should align automatically with your margins.

Step 6 (Optional): If you want to center your box, as I did, you’ll need an additional step.

This is one of those things I figured out by detective work, but it’s also in that book I keep yammering about.

Masters with AHC icon

The things to note here: a) Both the running head box and the main text box are selected on both pages (you can do one at a time); and b) the red line points to the “Align Horizontal Centers” icon, which centers your running head box over your eventual text.

Step 6a: Use the black selection arrow to select your header text box. Then, just as in Word, you hold down Shift while clicking in the main text box below, and bingo, both boxes are selected.

Step 6b: Now you just need to “Align Horizontal Centers.”

My book tells me to go to Window–>Object and Layout–>Align, but I discovered that the “Align Horizontal Centers” icon is also located in the Control Panel (that scary array at the top) once I’ve selected one or more objects. One click, and it’s done.

(Of course, you can avoid this step by choosing to left- or right-justify your running head box to the outside corners of your master pages.)

Repeat your steps with your other master page.

Now, with your running head text boxes created and positioned, you have my permission to type in them. Title goes in one, your name as author in the other. Most books seem to place the author’s name on the left (even) pages and the title on the right (odd) pages, but I’m not sure this is written in stone.

If your title or name won’t fit, either use the handles to make the box larger, or change your font or font size (by selecting with the Type tool, just as in Word), then selecting the font features you want from by making another trip to the Control Panel at the top.

You can align your text inside these running head boxes using exactly the same process as in Word: selecting the text, finding the little icons in the Control Panel for whatever justification you want, and clicking. I centered mine.

Masters with TA icons

I’ve selected my name in the text box; then I can go up to the Control Panel and align it however I like, in this case, centered.

Next decision: where do you want your page numbers?

The easy way is to insert the page number in the centered text box you’ve already created and positioned, probably before your name on the left page and after the title on the right. As in Word, just position your cursor. Then go to Type–>Insert Special Character–>Markers–> Current Page Number.

How did I find this pathway? That darn book.

You’ll see a little “A” appear where you inserted the page number. When you begin entering text, these “As” will be the correct page numbers.

Masters wiht As

This is how my Masters look with separate text boxes for the page numbers (you don’t have to do this; you can position your page numbers in the same box with your name and book title). The “As” are placeholders for the page numbers (really, those are “As”)..

I chose to create separate new text boxes for my page numbers and position them in the outer corners of my masters. The procedure is the same as just explained, except that the only text is the inserted page number. I left justified my page number on the left page and right justified it on the right.

Again, you don’t have to do this unless you really like the effect.

In the upper left of the Control Panel, you can select a different font and font size for your running heads. Numbers can be in a different font or size from the text.

Later, when you look at your pages, you may feel that the text in the running head box and/or your page-number box, if you created a separate one, isn’t positioned as you’d like—too high, probably. To fix this, go to “Object” in the menu at the top, then “Text Frame Options.” You’ll get a dialogue box. Play around with the “Inset” numbers until you like what you see.

Masters with TFO

I’ve lowered the text in the “author name” box by typing in different values and seeing how they look. Once I’ve chosen a value, I’d enter the same numbers for each box in the running heads.

So: Your Steps

  • Double-click your Masters icons in the Pages Panel.
  • Create a guide above your main text area to define where your header will go.
  • Create text boxes in the space above your main text area and position them, aligning them with the guide.
  • Enter your text in these boxes; format and align it however you wish.
  • Put in your page numbers wherever you prefer using the pathway I’ve provided above.

Bravo. Your masters are done.

Next: time to enter text.


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