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Basic grid layout tricks in InDesign

You perhaps won’t be reaching for the Align panel quite so quickly when you discover the hidden gems that are InDesign’s Gridify and Live Copy/Distribute features.

These three simple – but hidden – techniques are relatively easy to master and will save you lots of time. You will also learn how to switch between the Gridify and Grid Placement modes to quickly draw shapes and then create arrays of them. Plus you’ll be able to distribute them regularly across your layout with ease. The grid drawing techniques can be applied to any drawing object in InDesign – including frames for content.


01 First make it easier to see what you’re doing by isolating the layer you’re working on: Opt/Alt+click the visibility icon in the Layers panel to hide or show other layers. Don’t forget that you can select the content on layers by clicking on the proxy square with your cursor.


02 Now choose the images you want to use from your file system, position the cursor on your layout and begin to drag out. Without releasing the mouse, use the arrow keys to add columns (right/left will increase/decrease) and rows (up/down will increase/decrease).


03 To live distribute, select the objects you want to distribute and begin to drag on one of the transformation handles on the bounding box. Hold down Spacebar as you do so and keep it down until you release the mouse.


04 Select the Polygon tool and start dragging on your layout. Increase the number of objects by adding rows and columns as described above. To switch between modes tap the Spacebar – then use the arrow keys to change the number of sides and/or star inset.


05 Finally, select the objects you wish to copy with the Selection tool, and then hold down the Opt/Alt key and begin dragging a copy. Use the arrow keys (as described above) to add the rows and columns you need.

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