How to Set up Guides in Adobe InDesign

Guides keep all elements on the page aligned horizontally or vertically

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Using non-printing ruler guides in your Adobe InDesign documents is important to keep the various elements aligned and in the correct positions as you work. Ruler guides in InDesign can be positioned on a page, or on a pasteboard, where they are classified as either page guides or spread guides. Page guides appear only on the page where you create them, while spread guides span all the pages of a multipage spread and the pasteboard.

To set up guides for an InDesign document, you must be in Normal View Mode, which you set at View > Screen Mode > Normal. If the rulers aren't turned on across the top and left side of the document, turn them on using View > Show Rulers. If you are working in layers, click a specific layer name in the Layers panel to place a guide only on that layer.

The information in this article applies to InDesign for Creative Cloud, although the rule-guide tool has functioned in much the same way since the early days of Creative Suite nearly two decades ago.

Create a Ruler Guide

Position the cursor on either the top or side ruler and drag out onto the page. When you get to the desired position, let go of the cursor to release the page guide. If you drag your cursor and the guide onto the pasteboard instead of onto a page, the guide spans the spread and becomes a spread guide. By default, the color of the guides is light blue.

Moving a Ruler Guide

InDesign with discretionary ruler guides

If the position of the guide is not exactly where you want it, select the guide and drag it to a new position, or enter X and Y values for it in the Control panel to reposition it. To select a single guide, use the Selection or Direct Selection tool and click the guide. To select several guides, hold down the Shift key as you click with the Selection or Direct Selection tool.

After a guide is selected, move it in small amounts by nudging it with the arrow keys. To snap a guide to a ruler tick mark, press Shift as you drag the guide.

To move a spread guide, drag the part of the guide that is on the pasteboard. If you are zoomed into a spread and cannot see the pasteboard, press Ctrl in Windows or Command in MacOS as you drag the spread guide from inside the page.

Guides can be copied from one page and pasted onto another in a document. If both pages are the same size and orientation, the guide pastes into the same position.

Locking Ruler Guides

When you have all the guides positioned as you want them, go to View > Grids & Guides > Lock Guides to prevent accidentally moving the guides as you work.

To lock or unlock the ruler guides on a selected layer instead of the entire document, go to the Layers panel and double-click the name of the layer. Toggle Lock Guides on or off and click OK.

Locking layer guides doesn't prevent you from adding new ones to the workspace.

Hiding Guides

To hide the ruler guides, click View > Grids & Guides > Hide Guides. When you're ready to see them again, return to this same location and click Show Guides.

Clicking the Preview Mode icon at the bottom of the toolbox also hides all the guides, but it hides all other non-printing elements in the document as well.

Deleting Guides

Select an individual guide with the Selection or Direct Selection tool and drag and drop it onto a ruler to delete it or press Delete. To delete all the guides on a spread, right-click in Windows or Ctrl-click in MacOS on a ruler. Click Delete All Guides On Spread.

If you can't delete a guide, it may be on a master page or a locked layer.