How to Add Common Elements to a Master Page Layout in Adobe InDesign

Master Pages are used for common graphic elements that will appear on multiple pages throughout the document, such as page numbers. By default, there is always an A-Master page which can be modified at will.

  1. The Pages Panel is divided into two sections, with the top portion being for master pages. You can go to the master page by double-clicking it. In the case of face-page documents, double-clicking the name, A-Master, will fit the spread in the window.
    Master Pages in the Pages Panel

  2. To add page numbers to the document, first create a text frame at the lower left corner of the spread.
    Text Frame Created on Master Page

  3. With your text cursor inserted in the frame, go to the Type menu and scroll down to Insert Special Character. Then go to Markers and choose Current Page Number.
    Current Page Number in Type Menu

  4. The letter A will be inserted in the text frame. A page number will also be needed on the right-hand page, but before duplicating the existing frame, go to the Paragraph Panel and set the text alignment to Align Away From Spine.
    Align Away From Spine in Paragraph Panel

  5. Switch to the Selection Tool and copy/paste the text frame. Drag the copy into a mirrored position on the right page.
    Page Number Frames on Both Master Pages

  6. Go back to the Pages Panel and double-click on the first document page. There's now a page number on it. Look at other pages in the document to see the page numbers.
    First Document Page

  7. Go back to first document page and try to select the page number frame. You'll see that it can't be selected. To detach it from the master, hold down Ctrl-Shift (PC) or Command-Shift (Mac) while clicking the frame.
Author: Kate Cahill

Kate Cahill is a graphic designer, writer, and creative director who has developed content for print and web. As creative director, she has produced award-winning work for agencies focused on the pharmaceutical and health and beauty aid industries. She has also served as production manager, with responsibility for the successful fulfillment of long-run print contracts. Kate has been delivering training for Webucator clients since 2010. Her enthusiasm for cutting-edge technology, combined with hands-on practical experience, brings an added benefit to her classes. Kate teaches real-world techniques and integration of Adobe software, as well as Microsoft PowerPoint, to produce a fully developed and cohesive brand identity.

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