Baseline Shift Indesign

You usethe Align panel (Window > Object & Layout >Align) to align or distribute objects horizontally or verticallyalong the selection, margins, page, or spread. Consider the followingwhen working with the Align panel:

Indesign aligns inline objects to the bottom. Is there a way to make it so inserting an object inline will make everything go to the top instead? I can manually accomplish this with baseline shift, but I'm looking for something I can attribute to a paragraph style that will. InDesign also allows you to distribute objects across a pre-defined area. You may distribute objects by selecting the items you wish to distribute, opening the Align panel and clicking the button that corresponds to the type of distribution you desire. Shift-drag to move the gap between only the two nearest objects. Ctrl-drag (Windows) or Command-drag (Mac OS) to resize the gap instead of moving it. Adding the Shift key resizes the gap between only the two nearest objects. Alt-drag (Windows) or Option-drag.

  • The Align panel doesn’t affect objects to which you’veapplied the Lock Position command, and doesn’t change the alignmentof text paragraphs within their frames.

  • Text alignment is not affected by the Align Objects options.(See Alignor justify text.)

  • You can use the Keyboard Shortcuts dialog box (Edit >Keyboard Shortcuts) to create custom align and distribute shortcuts.(Under Product Area, select Object Editing.)

A. Vertical alignment buttons B. Verticaldistribution buttons C. Use Spacingdistribution D. Horizontal alignmentbuttons E. Horizontal distributionbuttons F. Alignment location options

Youcan use the Align panel to align or space selected objects horizontallyor vertically to the selection, margins, page, or spread.

Objects distributed horizontally to selection (top) and tomargins (bottom)

  1. Choose Window > Object & Layout >Align to display the Align panel.


    To show or hide additional panel options,choose Show Options or Hide Options from the panel menu.

  2. From the menu at the bottom of the panel, specify whetheryou want to align or distribute objects based on the selection,margins, page, or spread.
    • To align objects, click the button for the type of alignment you want.
    • To distribute objects, click the button for the type of distribution you want. For example, if you click the Distribute Left Edges button when Align To Selection is turned on, InDesign makes sure that there is an equal amount of space from left edge to left edge of each selected object.
    Using the Distribute Horizontal Centers option for even spacing

    A. Creates even spacing between the centers of each object B. Keeps the overall width the same as before the transformation
    • To set the space between objects, either center to center or edge to matching edge, select Use Spacing under Distribute Objects, and then type the amount of space you want to apply. Click a button to distribute the selected objects along their horizontal or vertical axes.

    Using the Distribute Horizontal Centers option and adding a value for Use Spacing

    A. Spaces the objects evenly from their centers by a specified value B. Changes the overall width of the objects as a whole
    • To set the space between objects (facing edge to facing edge), under Distribute Spacing, select Use Spacing and type the amount of space you want between the objects. (If Distribute Spacing is not visible, choose Show Options in the Align Panel menu.) Then, click the Distribute Spacing button to distribute the objects along their horizontal or vertical axes.
    Using the Distribute Horizontal Space option and adding a value for Use Spacing

    A. Creates spaces of a specified value between each object B. Changes the overall width of the objects as a whole

When you use spacing with vertical distribution, selectedobjects are spaced from top to bottom, starting with the top-mostobject. When you use spacing with horizontal distribution, selectedobjects are spaced from left to right, starting from the left-mostobject.


You can also use the Smart Spacingfeature to align or distribute objects while moving them. For example,if two vertical objects are 12 points apart, moving a third object12 points below the second object causes temporary guides to appear, allowingyou to snap the object into alignment.

The Gap tool provides a quick way to adjust the size of a gap between two or more objects. It also lets you resize several objects that have commonly aligned edges simultaneously, while keeping the gaps between them fixed. It’s a one-step way to adjust your layout by directly manipulating the space between objects.

The Gap tool ignores locked objects and master page items.

  1. Move the pointer between two objects, and do any of the followingactions:

    • Drag to move the gap and resize all objectsaligned along the gap.

    • Shift-drag to move the gap between only the two nearest objects.

    • Ctrl-drag (Windows) or Command-drag (Mac OS) to resize thegap instead of moving it. Adding the Shift key resizes the gap betweenonly the two nearest objects.

    • Alt-drag (Windows) or Option-drag (Mac OS) to move the gapand objects in the same direction. Adding the Shift key moves onlythe two nearest objects.

    • Ctrl+Alt-drag (Windows) or Command+Option-drag (Mac OS) toresize the gap and move the objects. Adding the Shift key to resizethe gap and move only the two nearest objects.


To view hints on using the Gap tool, select theGap tool and open the Tool Hints panel (Window > Utilities >Tool Hints).

When transforming multiple selected objects, you can resize the space between the selected objects proportionally instead of resizing the actual objects. For example, if you want to change the spacing between five aligned rectangles, you can do so without using any Distribute commands.

  1. Start dragging a selection handle and hold down the Spacebarwhile dragging. Continue dragging to change the spacing betweenthe objects.

More like this

What is a baseline grid, and why do you need one? A baseline grid consists of horizontal guide lines that keep lines of text consistent from page to page. Hold up a book and look at one of the pages against a lit background. The lines of type on both sides of the page should align neatly back to back. When your text is aligned on a baseline grid, it’ll line up beautifully throughout your whole book. You’ll also be able to easily align images with your text. This excerpt from Book Design Made Simple should answer all your questions.

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Baseline grids are always set to the size of the leading. If your main text has 14 pt leading, then your baseline grid is set to 14 pt. Sometimes if a book has very complex headings, subheadings, bulleted lists, etc., the baseline grid may be set to one half of the leading (say, 7 pt instead of 14 pt). This allows half-linespaces between headings and lists and can save space while still adhering to a baseline grid. But in most books, the baseline grid is simply set to the same point size as the leading.

Setting up your baseline grid

Open your Grid Preferences by clicking Edit>Preferences>Grids (Windows) or InDesign> Preferences>Grids (Mac). In the Baseline Grid box, choose a light color from the Color drop-down menu. See the settings below.

In the Start box, type “0 in,” and in the Relative To box, select Top of Page. This Start box setting is perfect for books with running feet (such as this book); however, if your book has running heads, you’ll change your Start box setting (see below).

In the Increment Every box, type the size of your leading (i.e., 14 pt). Leave everything else in this dialog box with the InDesign defaults.

Click OK, and a baseline grid will appear on your A-Master. If the grid doesn’t appear automatically, you may need to show it by clicking View>Grids & Guides>Show Baseline Grid and switching to Normal view. Now you’ll see horizontal lines 14 pts apart across your 2-page spread from top to bottom.

Your baseline grid will only be visible in Normal view, not in Preview. Press W to switch views while the Selection Tool is in use and nothing is selected.

Adjusting your baseline grid for running heads

Running heads are always placed two baselines above your main text. If your book has running heads, it’s best to start your baseline grid one line above your top margin.

First click Layout>Margins and Columns, and write down your Top Margin figure. Then go back into Grid Preferences and write down the figure for your leading in points (from the Increment Every box). Convert points to inches by dividing the number of points by 72 (1 inch = 72 points). Then use this formula to calculate your final figure for the Start box:

top margin –1 line of leading = figure for the Start box

For example: top margin (0.85”) minus 14 pt (0.1944”) = 0.6556” (type “0.6556 in” in the Start box). Click OK, and now you should have one baseline above your top margin for your running heads to sit on.

Now look at your bottom margin and see where it falls in relation to the baseline grid. If you find that the bottom margin is slightly above a baseline, adjust the margin so it’s slightly below instead. Otherwise your text won’t flow onto that line. To do this, click Layout>Margins and Columns, check both the Enable Layout Adjustment box and the Preview box, then increase or decrease the Bottom Margin until it falls just below the closest baseline. Click OK.

Aligning your text to the baseline grid

Switch back to any 2-page spread by double-clicking one in your Pages panel. Now you’ll see your baseline grid, but notice that none of the text is lining up on it yet. You’ll need to change a setting in your Basic Paragraph style.

Double-click Basic Paragraph in your Paragraph Styles panel to open it. Select Indents and Spacing on the left. From the Align to Grid drop-down menu, choose All Lines, then click OK.

Look through your pages and see how they look when aligned to the baseline grid. Your main text should look fine, as will all text set with the same leading value as your baseline grid. However, not all of your text will look fine with that leading value. This includes text with smaller leading values (such as your copyright page, endnotes, index, and so on), as well as text with larger leading values (for example, titles and headings).

If you notice some text that shouldn’t be aligned to the baseline grid, you can open the relevant paragraph style and, under Indents and Spacing, change Align to Grid: to None.


Baseline shift increments can be as small as hundredths of a point. In this example, the baseline of the type will be 1.25 points below the baseline grid.

The chapter goes on to describe situations where you might want to lift your type off the grid, such as for some headings or for equations. This is called baseline shift, and you can adjust it on the Control panel at the top of your screen (see example to the right).

Baseline grid in text frames

Indesign Grid Lines

We are often asked how to set up more than one baseline grid in a document or on a page. Sorry, folks, but it’s not possible—yet. However, if you have smaller type in separate text frames (i.e., captions or sidebars), you can add a baseline grid that’s specific to those text frames.

Select a sidebar text frame, for example, then open the Text Frame Options dialog box (Ctrl/Cmd+B). Choose the Baseline Options tab, add the leading value to the Increment Every box (in the example to the right, 10.5 pt), and click OK. Now create a new object style based on this text frame and save it as sidebar. And, finally, update your sidebar paragraph style so that the text Aligns to Grid. Voila!

Anytime you want, you can make the baseline grid disappear while keeping your margins and guides visible. Simply go to View > Grids & Guides> Hide Baseline Grid.

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Read more: Book running heads »
Read more: Typesetting math in InDesign »

Baseline Shift In Indesign

The excerpt above is from Book Design Made Simple, Second Edition, chapter 23, Setting up your baseline grid, pages 138–141. Copyright © 2017 Fiona Raven and Glenna Collett.

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