How to Set up Guides in Adobe InDesign

Guides keep all elements on the page aligned horizontally or vertically

Using non-printing ruler guides in Adobe InDesign documents keeps the various elements aligned and in the correct positions as you work. You can position ruler guides in InDesign on a page or 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.

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.

Set up Guides

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, select a specific layer name in the Layers panel to place a guide only on that layer.

Create a Ruler Guide

Position the cursor on either the top or side ruler and drag it out onto the page. When you get to the desired position, let go of the cursor to release the page guide.

Dragging the cursor and the guide onto the pasteboard instead of a page creates a spread guide. By default, the color of the guide is light blue.

Move a Ruler Guide

If the guide's position isn't exactly where you want it, select the guide and drag it to a new position. Or, enter the 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 the Shift key as you choose the Selection or Direct Selection tool.

InDesign with discretionary ruler guides

After you select a guide, 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 zoomed into a spread and can't 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.

Lock Ruler Guides

When you've positioned the guides as you want them, go to View > Grids & Guides > Lock Guides to prevent moving the guides accidentally 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 layer's name. Toggle Lock Guides on or off and select OK.

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

Hide Guides

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

Clicking the Preview Mode icon at the bottom of the toolbox hides the guides and other non-printing elements in the document.

Delete 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.

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