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Master Page Adobe InDesign: It's Not As Difficult As You Think [ENGLISH]

Imagine you created Adobe InDesign document of 10 pages and you had to add background on every page. All you will do is import the image and make copies of it till all the pages are filled up and

save it. Overall, it requires lot of time and hard work. So why not work smarter than harder?

Yes, that’s the magic of master pages. All you have to do is simply add image on the master page. This works like a Template. Then apply this master page template to every required pages. You will see all these pages have same background without the need of placing the image on individual pages and locking it. Isn’t it so simple? Tech savvy?

In this tutorial, I will break down basics, pros and cons, and all other aspects of Adobe InDesign Master Pages. Keep Watching.

What is Master Page?

Master page is a non-printing page that can be used as a template on rest of the pages inside long documents. Master page is ideal tool for creating multiple pages document such as magazines, books, reports, newsletters, catalogs, brochures and flyers because it allows the design elements to follow along the specified pages in a consistent manner.

Just like in powerpoint, we add template on one slide, then all other slides follow the design of chosen template throughout the powerpoint document. Similarly, in Adobe InDesign, Master page does the same job. In short, the designed template inside Master page can be applied to multiple pages just by using few simple clicks. The template of Master page depends on how you want all the elements to look like such as header, footer, titles, page number, Logos, position of body texts, guides, margins, backgrounds, page size, page orientation etc. So the basic principle is that whatever items you place on master pages as a template, it will carry along on all those pages where you had applied the master template to them in InDesign document. This brings consistency to design elements in long documents. There is no denying that it’s a handy tool for creative people.

Second thing is, once you have applied master page to all the pages but now you want to make few changes to the template’s design. For that, you need to double click the master pages thumbnail in pages panel. Once you’ve opened the master page, you can edit anything. For suppose, let’s add title over here. I’m going to give it some stylish Cardo typeface, big font size and bold font style. Now go back to the main pages. You see, master page will automatically update the design of all those pages that have Master applied to them.

Last thing I want to mention is that you can create multiple Master pages for different purpose inside the long document such as separate master page templates for table of contents, chapters, and Glossary which may also need different page numbering order and style.

Where do I find Master Pages?

When you create new InDesign document, you’ll be able to see the tool bar at the left, page or spread in the middle of the interface and other tools on right side of your interface. However, if you can’t find master page anywhere on your screen, then go to Window and Click pages. Shortcut key is F12. The pages panel will appear on right side of your screen. By default, InDesign will show you “None” master and A-master on top of the pages panel. Now you can design the template in A-master page or you can create more master pages in the panel.

How to create Master page in Adobe InDesign?

Like I mentioned earlier, InDesign automatically creates one master page as we create a new document. However, you can create multiple master pages as needed. Before I begin, let me inform you that InDesign names the Master pages alphabetically using letters prefixes. This means that the master page after A-master will be B-master, and then C-master, then D-master and so on. There are two ways you can create a master page in Adobe InDesign.

First method is creating a new master page from Scratch. Right click on A-master page thumbnail and choose new Master. After clicking New Master, this dialog box will show up. I will explain this in a moment. Click ok. And see, new master page has been created. Now if you want to delete this Master page, then right click on this Master page and choose Delete Master page spread B. Second method is to duplicate the master page. Right click on A-master page and choose Duplicate the A-master spread. It will create the copy of the master page. The only difference is that New Master page will have brand new page while duplicate page will hold the same old elements on same position. However, you can modify anything on the duplicate page without affecting its original master page template. Now, let’s delete these Master pages B and C.

Now create a new master page by right clicking on any of the master page thumbnails. Click new master. Here, you can write whatever name for this master page and prefix. However, keep in mind that if you already have A-master, B-master or C-master named master pages already in the pages panel, then you cannot create new master page with same name. Right now, you can see that I already have A-master page. So if I change the prefix to A and hit enter. InDesign will show the error and it will not allow the entry of master pages with similar names. That’s why, let’s write the Prefix B over here. As for the name, I am leaving it as master. For based on, you can choose whichever master page you want. If you choose “none”, then this master page won’t follow any master page template. If you choose A-master page, then it will continue the A-master page template and so on. Let’s cancel this for a moment. Open the A-master page. Let’s draw some green rectangles on A-master page. Now create new master page. Right click on A-master and select new Master page. Leave the prefix to B and name as Master. And choose the based on as “None” and click ok. Now create one more master page. Right click on any of these thumbnails and select new master. Let the prefix be C and name as Master. But this time, choose based on A-master and click ok. Now have a close look at these master pages and compare them. Open the B-master page by double clicking on it. The B-master is based on “None”, so there is nothing to display on this page. On the other side, C-master is based on “A-master”. Let’s open C-master page. So C-master page is displaying the template of A-master. Now, let’s create new Master page. Let’s name it D-master page. Leave the based on to “None”. Now focus on this pages. You can have one two or more pages as needed. Let’s write 4 over here and press ENTER. Now check the master pages on pages panel. The D-master is composed of four single pages. You can have even more up to 10 pages in the master spread.

Now let’s create one more master page as E-Master page. Leave the based on to “None”. Leave the pages to 2. Now on the page size, you can choose whichever size you want. Currently all our master pages are of A4 size paper. You can also see the width and height of this size format. So this time, I am setting the size to B5. See, InDesign is now showing the width and height of B5 size format. So does the other size formats. Let’s choose B5 and hit enter. Now let’s apply the B-master to one of those pages and E-master to the opposite page. Now you can judge that left page is A4 size because it has B-master applied to it. Here’s the proof. The letter B present on top of this page’s thumbnail. Right side page is of B5 size smaller than the A4. Here’s the proof. The letter E present on top of this page’s thumbnail.

Let’s create one last master page before I move to other topic. Let’s rename it as F-master. Leave the based on to “None”. Leave the pages to 2. Leave the page size to A4. Now this time, focus on the orientation of page. It could either be portrait or landscape. Let’s choose landscape because all other pages are portrait. Click ok. Now see, this F-master is landscape. So, if I drag and drop F-master to any of these pages, that page will be into Landscape.

Let’s do some revision. “None” master is the default empty template. A-master page is the default template. I had created B-master page which is based on “None” master. I had created C-master page which is based on A-master. I had created D-master with 4 number of pages. I had created E-master of different page size B5. I had created F-master in Landscape orientation. You guys can do combination of any of these

Master page and facing pages

Master page template can be either single pages or facing spreads depending on what you’ve set for the document. When creating a document, you will have this option facing pages. Let’s turn on the Preview. I am gonna place this box over the left. And have a close look on the Master page in pages panel. When I click facing pages, Master page turns into Spread, and when I turn off the facing pages, Master page appears as single page.

Let’s create an A4 document of facing pages. Now see, the master page is spread. By default, It will show two templates at the top named as “None” and “A-master”. Below these templates are the main pages. Remember, there is a left and right page to the master, so be sure to be on the page that you want to be on. Now double click on master page. I’m gonna draw Rectangle on this page as a background. Let’s give it magenta color. Let’s copy this and paste it on the opposite page. Give it a blue color. Now check these pages below. All of them are colored in magenta and blue color. By default, A-master is automatically applied to all the pages in entire document. This means that anything you put on A-master will show up on all pages of your document. Just like Magenta on left side and blue on right side. You can switch the colors by going to A-master. Place the blue rectangle to left side and Magenta rectangle on right side. Now go back to the main pages. See, the pages are following the A-master template.

Notice the “None” master above the A-master page. It is actually not a Master or template. It is simply BLANK. Even if you double click on “None” master. It won’t open. However, if you don’t want certain pages to follow A-master, you can simply drag and drop “None” master to the particular page. Let’s drag “None” master and drop it on second page. See, the page has become blank. Check that all other pages thumbnail has Letter “A” at the top, which means A-master has been applied to those pages. The blank page has no letter at the top of its thumbnail. It is as simple as that.

Now let’s create A4 document of non-facing pages. The only difference you’ll see in master pages that they are single and not spreads. If you want to study Facing pages of Adobe InDesign, I have placed the tutorial link on top of this video.

Why do we need Master Pages?

Like I mentioned before that master pages ensure that your design remains consistent throughout the InDesign document. Master page works like template. Without template, the repeating elements won’t stay on the same place throughout the document.

Let’s say you are designing a Science book with cover page of three sections Biology, Chemistry and Physics. Let’s create a document of 4 non-facing pages. The reason I am not using facing pages is that it will create dual single pages forming a spread, which I am not concerned right now. So I am going to leave the first page for science book cover, and other pages for three sections Biology, Chemistry and Physics. I had already designed this science book cover, so I’m just gonna import it and lock it on first page. For the next three sections, I need to make 3 master pages. Let’s concentrate on first page. Open pages panel by going to Window, Pages. Shortcut key is F12. In this pages panel, you already have A-master page. Double click on it. Now Im gonna add title on this page. Let’s say BIOLOGY. I’m choosing Orbitron Font for title. Let’s use large font for the title like 150 points. Great! Now I am going to tilt it to the left side. Let’s add section as well. I’m gonna write Section-A in capital letters using SQUARE721 BT font. I’m tilting this as well and placing it before BIOLOGY. Let’s add Blue color to the title. Let’s create a box here. I am using it as a decoration, you really don’t have to do it. I am pasting Lorem ipsum paragraph over here in this box. I’m going to give it italic font like Monotype Corsiva 24 points. Let’s add little biology icon over here. I think it looks PERFECT. Now let’s duplicate this master page. It will be automatically be named as B-master page. You see, it has a same design as first template. Change the section 1 to section 2. Change the Biology title to Chemistry, give it a purple color. Let’s change this paragraph and change the biology icon to chemistry icon. Let’s duplicate this B-master page. It will automatically be named as C-master page. You can give it any abbreviation you want, which I will explain later in this tutorial. Just like before, I will change title to PHYSICS in red font, section 3, change the paragraph and finally chemistry icon to physics icon. Alright our work is done from the template. Now let’s go back to the main pages. Click on pages panel. You’ll realize that Biology has template is already there in all pages. The reason is InDesign automatically apply the first template to all pages by Default. To fix this let’s drag the “none” master to all these pages. Now apply A-master to first page, B-master to second page and C-master to third page. Now scroll down, you see all these pages are in right order.

Now, if you want chemistry section to come after physics section. All you need to do is drag and drop the Physics template on second page and Chemistry template on third page. Then go to chemistry and physics template and change their section numbers accordingly. Now let’s say you hadn’t use master pages in this document. Before that let me undo this change and apply none master template to all these pages. What does this none master template do? Well you know, like I told before that it is not the actual master page but it works like an empty template, when applied to a page, it wipes out the master page template applied to it.

Alright! Now copy the biology template and paste it on first page, chemistry on second page and physics template on third page. Now the thing is, the position of all these texts and images is different on each page. Look at these X and Y controls. Click on Biology and check the Y coordinate. Click on chemistry title and check the Y coordinate. Similarly for Physics title, check the Y coordinate. This proves that the design in the document is not consistent. X and Y coordinates both should be same for all the elements in entire document. Therefore using Master page is the best solution to make the elements stay on the same position of every page throughout the document.

You should keep in mind, that master pages are used for long documents with multiple pages that needs the design to be presented consistently. If you are working on single page document, then master page isn’t a thing for you. After all Master page is a best friend of multiple pages.

How to Edit Master Pages?

Like I had designed the science book earlier. I am going to use that template to explain you how to edit the master pages. It is very simple. Let’s take an example of Chapter 1 page. Notice that this page is linked to B-master. So double click B-master page to open it. Once opened, you can edit this page. Let’s add inverted commas over here. Go back to the main page. And see that InDesign has automatically updated the page for you. So, whatever elements I designed in B-master cannot be clicked over here. Just like this page number, these inverted commas and title etc. If you want to edit them, go back to B-master and edit it the way you like.

The great part is that you don’t need to copy and paste the elements on every single page especially the page numbers. Instead of typing page numbers manually, InDesign does the automatic page numbering with the help of Master Pages and special characters. If you want to know how to perform automatic page numbering in Adobe InDesign. Click on the card available on top of this video.

How to use Master Pages?

As I had shown earlier, you can apply the Master pages on the pages of your choice by simply dragging the Master page and dropping on the thumbnail of the page. Over here my first master page is A-cover page. Let’s apply the A-cover page to all pages. Right click on its thumbnail and choose apply to pages. In this dialog box, select all pages and hit enter. You see, all these pages have same Master template. I don’t want this cover page template to repeat for every page. So I will leave the first page to A-cover page. Let’s drag the B-master page and apply it on second page. See Chapter 1 looks better now. Let’s apply B-master to the next two pages. For table of contents, I will used D-master which I designed specifically for Table of contents. See, now index fits well. Let’s apply b-master to references and glossary. Just for fun, add C-master to the last page. Now check the page number of every page from start to finish. It is following the correct order. To summarize this, you just need to drag and drop the master pages to the relevant pages of your choice.

How to unlink pages from Master Pages?

So you have applied the master pages to relevant pages but now you want to unlink some pages from master pages. Easy! Drag the “None” master page from the listing on top of the panel and drop it on relevant pages. See, the master page has been disconnected from this page.

How to override Master Pages?

On occasion, you don’t want certain elements to appear on every page that has master applied to it. Let’ say you don’t want page number to appear on this table of contents page. Your first choice will be duplicating the Master page and remove the page number from its template. The second choice should be Overriding master page. That’s right. Overriding the master page allows you to modify certain page items without creating new master page.

You can do this very easily. Right click on this pages thumbnail and select override all master page items. Now see, all the items here can be edited. So I am deleting this page number. Here you go. Isn’t it so amazing?

How to reuse Master pages in other projects?

There are many free resources of InDesign master page templates that you can download from internet. However, if you had already created your own template, and you want to reuse it to other projects as well. All you need to do is, open the pages panel, shortcut key is F12. You see these lines on top-right corner of this panel. Click it and then go to master pages and choose load master. I’m gonna load the master page from my previous project that I had used in many of my past tutorials. If you had already used different master page names in your old project, master pages will be loaded without any conflict. However, if your old project has master pages of same name, then InDesign will ask you the permission to automatically rename those loaded master pages. Let’s check the master pages. See, they have been renamed as G-master page and H-master page. This is my master template from my past project.

Advantages of Master Pages

One of the advantages is that master page saves time, effort and memory space.

To support this statement. Let me give you one example. Create an InDesign document and import any specific image, let’s say this old age stained paper and use it as a background on first page. I am rotating this to fit the page. Alright then you make copies of this image till you fill up all pages. Afterwards, you needed to lock all these individual images by going to Object, and Lock. Shortcut key is CTRL L. Let’s save it as “Stained paper.indd” file. When you go to the file location and click on the file. It shows file size of 1.33 Mb.

Now repeat the process by using Master pages, simply add the background on Master page template and apply those templates to all the required pages. First I am deleting all these images form every single page. Click on every page and press CTRL ALT L to unlock these images and then delete them individually. Now, it’s time to use Master pages. Double Click on “A-master page”. Once it is opened, place the background image over here. Then open the pages panel, click the A-master page and drag it and drop it on any page you want. I am dropping this template on all pages. Now click on the main pages. You’ll see this background has been applied to all these pages with ease. This proves that Master pages save time. Let’s save it “Stained paper master page.indd” file. Let’s go to file location and click on this file. Let’s compare the file sizes of both methods. The Master page file size is 1.28 MB while the one without master page has file size of 1.33 MB. This shows it saves memory space too. Therefore, Master pages saves time, effort and memory space.

Another advantage of using master pages is that all the elements you place stay the same throughout the document. Header, footer, guides, margins, position of text, page numbers etc. are entitled to stick to same place in the entire document.

Automatic page numbering is greatest advantage of Master page. The page numbers can also be listed as capital or small roman numbers, and alphabets.

Tip of the Day

You can rename the Master pages anytime. To do that, right click on master page for example A-cover page and choose Master options for A-master. You can write different prefix, it doesn’t have to be A. Let’s rename it Book Cover. You can even increase or decrease the number of pages if needed.

In conclusion, Master page is useful tool to manage the templates throughout InDesign document. Learning Master Page will save lot of your time, work and memory space. Once you are familiar with Master pages, you will be able to create your own templates that you might use those templates for future projects.

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