Page design begins with the basics: starting a new document, setting up pages, and positioning margins and columns or changing grid settings.

Creating new documents

Creating new documents
Build a new InDesign document from the very beginning. Learn the basic ingredients of a document and why understanding the intent of a document can make a difference.
David Blatner

Create a new document

  1. Choose File > New > Document.

    The New Document dialog box combines the Document Setup and the Margins And Columns dialog boxes, so that you can set up the page size, margins, and page columns all in one place. You can change these settings at any time.

  2. Specify document setup options. (See New Document options.)

    To specify the dimensions of the bleed and slug areas, click the Arrow button before the Bleed and Slug label. The bleed and slug areas extend out from the edges of the defined Page Size. To make the bleed or slug areas extend evenly on all sides, click the Make All Settings The Same icon .

  3. (Only in InDesign CC) Select the Preview checkbox to see how your new document will look like. Make necessary changes if required.

  4. Click OK to open the new document with the settings you specified.


To set default layout settings for all new documents, choose File > Document Setup or Layout > Margins And Columns, and set options when no documents are open.

New Document options

Document Preset

Choose a preset that you have saved earlier.


If you are creating a document to be output to PDF or SWF for the web, choosing the Web option changes several options in the dialog box, such as turning off Facing Pages, changing the orientation from portrait to landscape, and using a page size based on monitor resolution. You can edit any of these settings after the document is created.

CS6 and later: Digital publishing intent has been added for publications aimed for the Digital Publishing Suite. You can also change the intent of the document after it is created.

Number of pages

Specify the number of pages to create in the new document.

Start Page #

Specify which number the document starts on. If you specify an even number (such as 2) with Facing Pages selected, the first spread in the document begins with a two-page spread. See Start a document with a two-page spread.

Facing Pages

Select this option to make left and right pages face each other in a double-page spread, such as for books and magazines. Deselect this option to let each page stand alone, such as when you’re printing flyers or posters or when you want objects to bleed in the binding.

After you’ve created a document, you can use the Pages panel to create spreads with more than two pages or force the first two pages to open as a spread. (See Control spread pagination.)

Master Text Frame

CS5.5 and earlier: Select this option to create a text frame the size of the area within the margin guides, matching the column settings you specified. The master text frame is added to the A Master. (See Using text frames on master pages.)

The Master Text Frame option is available only when you’ve chosen File > New > Document.

Primary Text Frame

CS6  and later: select this option to add a primary text frame on the master page. When you apply a new master page, the story in the primary text frame automatically flows into the primary text frame of the new master page.

Page Size

Choose a page size from the menu, or type values for Width and Height. Page size represents the final size you want after bleeds or other marks outside the page are trimmed.


Click Portrait  (tall) or Landscape  (wide). These icons interact dynamically with the dimensions you enter in Page Size. When Height is the larger value, the portrait icon is selected. When Width is the larger value, the landscape icon is selected. Clicking the deselected icon switches the Height and Width values.

Tip: To specify the dimensions of the bleed and slug areas, click the Arrow button before the Bleed and Slug label in the New Document dialog box. To make the bleed or slug areas extend evenly on all sides, click the Make All Settings The Same icon .


The Bleed area allows you to print objects that are arranged at the outer edge of the defined page size. For a page of the required dimensions, if an object is positioned at its edge, some white may appear at the edge of the printed area due to slight misalignment during printing or trimming. For this reason, you should position an object that is at the edge of the page of the required dimensions a little beyond the edge, and trim after printing. Bleed area is shown by a red line on the document. You can set bleed area settings from Bleed in the Print dialog box.


The slug area is discarded when the document is trimmed to its final page size. The slug area holds printing information, customized color bar information, or displays other instructions and descriptions for other information in the document. Objects (including text frames) positioned in the slug area are printed but will disappear when the document is trimmed to its final page size.

Objects outside the bleed or slug area (whichever extends farther) do not print.


(Only in InDesign CC) Select this checkbox to see how your new document will look like. Make necessary changes to the options if the preview is not as desired.


You can also click the Save Document Preset icon to save document settings for future use.

Document window overview

Each page or spread in your document has its own pasteboard and guides, which are visible in Normal View mode. (To switch to Normal View, choose View > Screen Mode > Normal.) The pasteboard is replaced with a gray background when the document is viewed using one of the Preview modes. (See Preview documents.) You can change the color of this preview background and guides in Guides & Pasteboard preferences.

Document window
Document and guides in Normal View Mode

A. Spread (black lines) B. Page (black lines) C. Margin guides (magenta lines) D. Column guides (violet lines) E. Bleed area (red lines) F. Slug area (blue lines) 

Document window notes:

  • Lines of other colors are ruler guides which, when present, appear in the layer color when selected. See Layers.

  • Column guides appear in front of margin guides. When a column guide is exactly in front of a margin guide, it hides the margin guide.

Create custom page sizes

You can create custom page sizes that appear in the Page Size menu in the New Document dialog box.

  1. Choose File > New > Document.

  2. Choose Custom Page Size from the Page Size menu.

  3. Type a name for the page size, specify page size settings, and then click Add.

The New Doc Sizes.txt file that lets you create custom page sizes in previous version of InDesign is not available in InDesign CS5 or later.

Define document presets

You can save document settings for page size, columns, margins, and bleed and slug areas in a preset to save time and ensure consistency when creating similar documents.

  1. Choose File > Document Presets > Define.

  2. Click New in the dialog box that appears.

  3. Specify a name for the preset and select basic layout options in the New Document Preset dialog box. (See New Document options for a description of each option.)

  4. Click OK twice.


You can save a document preset to a separate file and distribute it to other users. To save and load document preset files, use the Save and Load buttons in the Document Presets dialog box.

Create a document using a preset

  1. Do one of the following:

    • Choose File > Document Preset > [name of preset]. (Hold down the Shift key while choosing the preset to create a new document based on the preset without opening the New Document dialog box.)

    • Choose File > New > Document, and then choose a preset from the Document Preset menu in the New Document dialog box.

    The New Document dialog box displays the preset layout options.

  2. Make changes to the options (if desired) and click OK.


To skip the New Document dialog box, press the Shift key as you select a preset from the Document Preset menu.

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