How to Use Liquid Layout When Creating an Alternate Layout in Adobe InDesign

Liquid Layout is used when creating Alternate Layouts, where one file contains multiple versions of each page at various sizes and orientation. The feature was originally developed to cut down the massive production time required for publishing to tablet devices. It can also be applied to any project where multiple sizes are needed: for instance, an ad that's placed in magazines and journals with different ad sizes.

This feature works the same in Adobe InDesign CS6 and CC versions.

  1. Go to the Layout menu and choose Liquid Layout.
    Layout Menu

  2. When the Liquid Layout Panel is opened, the Page Tool Page Tool is automatically activated and a bounding box will appear around your current page. Pulling at handles of the bounding box lets you preview how the content would be redistributed. The page returns to its original size when you release the mouse. Holding down Alt (PC)/Option (Mac) while dragging applies the size change to the page.
    Page Bounding Box

  3. The Liquid Layout Panel has a Liquid Page Rule menu with options for how objects will resize:
    • Scale: Content is scaled proportionally and space is added around content as needed.
    • Re-center: Content is centered in the new page area without scaling.
    • Guide-Based: When a guide is created that touches an object on the page, the guide sets the direction that the object on the page can resize. A horizontal guide lets an object it intersects scale vertically; a vertical guide allows resizing horizontally.
    • Object-Based: Individual frames can be anchored to specific sides of the page and will scale from that anchored position.

  4. Choose Object-Based from the Liquid Page Rule menu, then, still using the Page Tool, click a frame on the page. The Liquid Layout Panel shows resizing options under Object Constraints and also gives options for pinning the object to specific page sides. There are pin handles on the frame itself, as well.
    Liquid Layout Panel

  5. When applying an object-based Liquid Page Rule to a text frame there are additional column options to be considered. Switch to the Selection Tool and open the Text Frame Options [Ctrl+B (PC) / Command+B (Mac)]. Click the Columns menu and Select Flexible Width. This option also lets you define the maximum width allowed when the frame is resized.
    Text Frame Options Dialog Box

  6. After setting the Text Frame Options, go to the Liquid Layout Panel to set the Object Constraints and Pin options. Using the Page Tool, pull at the handles to resize the page and watch how the columns in the text frame reflow.
    Page Layout and Liquid Layout Panel

  7. Now that the Liquid Page Rules and Text Frame Options have been set, an alternate layout can be created. Go to the Pages Panel menu and select Create Alternate Layout.
    Pages Panel Menu

  8. Specify the alternate page size and choose Object-Based from the Liquid Page Rule menu, then click OK.
    Create Alternate Layout Dialog Box

  9. The Pages Panel now has a column for the pages at the alternate size.
    Pages Panel

  10. To see the two layouts side-by-side, click the Split Layout View button at the lower-right of the document window.
    Layout Split in Window
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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