InDesign Beginner’s Cheat Sheet: Finishing Up, Part 2

Three books fanned open from aboveThis is part of a series. Here is a complete list of current posts in my InDesign Beginner’s Cheat Sheet.

In this post, some final InDesign formatting must- and should-dos as you prepare to create the pdf of your print edition for proofing and upload to Ingram and CreateSpace.

Click images for larger versions. Click here for a complete list of posts in the InDesign Beginner’s Cheat Sheet series.

Removing Master Formatting from Chapter Opening Pages

The experts in book-design informed me that the opening page of each chapter should NOT display the formatting I incorporated into the masters that control the appearance of each page. In other words, no page numbers, no running heads.

A chapter-opening page with running heads not removed

The running heads and page numbers need to be removed from this pags. (Note that this spread is selected in the Pages panel to the left.)

Fortunately, it’s easy to remove these.

Select a chapter-opening page in the Pages panel by clicking on it. If you want to see that particular page on your screen, double-click. If you want to see the whole spread, choose View>Fit Spread in Window.

Go to Layout>Pages>Apply Master to Pages.

Layout>Pages menu in InDesign

You’ll get a box that tells you which page you’re about to act on; the box defaults to your “A-master,” or main master. However, the other option, available through the familiar arrow on the left, is “None.”

Choose “None” and “Apply” to remove the running heads and page numbers from the targeted page.

Page in InDesign with master/ running heads removed

You do have to repeat this move for each chapter. If you’re working chapter by chapter, as I do, you can make removing the formatting part of your “placing” routine.

(Remember that you can make universal changes on master elements. If you decide you don’t like the font of your running heads or the placement of your page numbers, change these elements on the masters by double-clicking on the masters to display them. Your changes will appear on every page in your manuscript to which the master is applied.)

Refining your Widows and Orphans

You will need to make a choice regarding widow/orphan control. Just as in Word, you can choose the “Keep Option” of eliminating widows and orphans or allowing them. (Your “Keep Options” are available in the menu on the left side of the Paragraph Styles Options dialogue box.)


Some book designers whose web sites I’ve visited argue that the “square-page” look you create when you allow widows and orphans is just as acceptable as the sometimes-shorter/sometimes-longer look you’ll get if you insist that every lonely line get sucked up into the previous page or pushed to the next one.

This is your individual choice. Allowing widows and orphans adds a step to your formatting. But this is the choice I’ve made: for the square-page look, where all pages are the same length.

When you consider that single lines of dialogue standing by themselves at the top or bottom of a page are considered standard, it’s hard to see what’s wrong with a single line of text in either position.

Page in InDEsign with single line at bottom.

I’ve decided I’m okay with this. . . .

Page in InDesign with single line of text at top

. . . And this.

However, even the advocates of a square page don’t like very short orphans (or widows—these appear to be used differently by different people) at the top of a new page. No one- or two-word lines!

So if you do opt to allow widows and orphans, you will need to edit to eliminate egregious overflows of this sort.

If you’re formatting for someone else, working with text that’s not your own, you have to have some conversations about how to address this problem—because the fix I use requires editing the text. It’s possible that professionals use minute adjustments of leading and “tracking” and “kerning”—adjusting the space between lines and between words and letters—to push text around. But that seems risky to me. It would be easy for us beginners to end up with paragraphs that are visibly out of kilter.

Hence, I go for a comparatively easy fix.

If you’ve ever had to hit a particular page-length requirement, you probably already know this trick.Happy that InDesign is working

Say you have an extra line at the top of a page that you consider too short.

Scan the preceding page (or sometimes, pages) for a paragraph with just one or two words on the final line.

Find a cut in that paragraph to eliminate the final line.


Well, this IS the “Beginner’s CHEAT Sheet.” green smiley happy

If this is not your book, and you think this is a viable option, you’d need to clear each cut with the author, or perhaps allow him or her to suggest the cuts. Because there are likely to be a good many such decisions to be made in a long book, you would need to plan for this time investment.

Note one advantage of working chapter by chapter, as I do, instead of placing an entire book in one file. Changes made on the first or second page of a placed file affect every page thereafter in that file. So eliminating an orphan on page two may create one on page six. If you work chapter by chapter, this effect is limited to just that one chapter. If you later decide you want to edit a paragraph in Chapter 3, for any reason, you won’t subsequently have to go through the entire book from Chapter 3 on to correct effects your simple early choice has caused.


According to Wikipedia, “In writing and typography, a ligature occurs where two or more graphemes or letters are joined as a single glyph.” (This article is actually quite interesting!) The ligatures you can allow will most commonly be those in which “f” combines with “l” or “i.” Allowing ligatures, which the experts recommend, involves checking only a single box under “Basic Character Formatting” in the “Paragraph Styles Options” box, which you can open by double-clicking on the name of the style in the Paragraph Styles panel, usually housed on the right of your workspace.

InDesign Ligature option box

You’re almost ready to create your pdf and proof.

Next time: some bonus stuff you will want to know, and generating a pdf for Ingram or CreateSpace.



Filed under book design, indie publishing, novels, Print on Demand, Publishing, Self-publishing, Tech tips, Writing

5 responses to “InDesign Beginner’s Cheat Sheet: Finishing Up, Part 2


  2. AM Concepcion

    Interesting! I run along w/David Blatner, and am enjoying your instructions.

    One thing: an alternative to applying the None master to Chapter openers (which may change other things governed by the master, like page margins), is to simply remove the elements on the Chapter Opener page that you don’t want … the running header and the page numbers in your example. Normally, items on a document page that come from the master are locked and can’t be edited or deleted (that’s a feature-not-a-bug). But InDesign just requires a little more effort to override that default. Use the Selection tool (the black arrow) and on the Chapter Opener page, hold down the Command and Shift keys while clicking on an object to “unlock it” (technically it’s called “overriding the master”) and then delete it. On Windows you’d hold down Control-Shift.

    Also you’ll be glad to know that Ligatures are enabled by default for all styles, so unless someone’s been messing around, there’s no need to check the box … it should already be checked (ticked).


    • Wow! Thanks! I’ve been to your site for answers to some questions I’ve come up with in my explorations. I’ve had good luck applying the “none” master, but I see how that choice could have unintended effects. I’ll make sure this comment gets passed along. It sounds like a simple solution (I think it’s also in the book I’ve been using, but the “none” option looked simpler at first glance).

      I’ve had other issues crop up along the way. Basically, I’ve just shared the fixes I’ve come up with. This is a learning process. I love breaking open black boxes.

      Thanks again!


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