Lay out frames and pages

For detailed information and instructions, click the links below.

About paths and frames

You can draw objects in a document and use them as paths or as frames. Paths are vector graphics like those you create in a drawing program such as Adobe Illustrator®. Frames are identical to paths, with only one difference—they can be containers for text or other objects. A frame can also exist as a placeholder—a container without contents. As containers and placeholders, frames are the basic building blocks for a document’s layout.

Paths and frames

A. Path B. Frame as graphic container C. Frame with placed graphic 

You can draw both paths and frames using tools in the Toolbox. You can also create frames by simply placing (importing) or pasting contents into a path.


In QuarkXPress, paths are referred to as lines, and frames are referred to as boxes.

Because a frame is just a container version of a path, you can do anything to a frame that you can do to a path, such as add a color or a gradient to its fill or stroke, or edit the shape of the frame itself with the Pen tool. You can even use a frame as a path, or a path as a frame, at any time. This flexibility makes it easy to change your design and provides a wide range of design choices.

Frames can contain text or graphics. A text frame determines the area to be occupied by text and how text will flow through the layout. You can recognize text frames by the text ports in their respective upper left and lower right corners.

A frame grid is a text frame, with a basic grid to determine character size and spacing within the frame attached.

A graphics frame can function as a border and background, and can crop or mask a graphic. When acting as an empty placeholder, a graphics frame displays a crossbar.

Text frame (left) and empty graphics frame (right)

If you don’t see the crossbar inside an empty graphics frame, the frame edges display may be turned off.

Show or hide frame edges

Unlike paths, you can see the nonprinting strokes (outlines) of frames by default even when the frames aren’t selected. If the document window is getting crowded, use the Show/Hide Frame Edges command to simplify the screen display by hiding the frame edges. Doing this also hides the crossbar in a graphics placeholder frame. The display setting for frame edges doesn’t affect the display of the text ports on text frames.


The frame edge is defined as a frame’s stroke, not the outer edge of the stroke’s weight.

  1. Do any of the following:
    • To show or hide frame edges, choose View > Extras > Show/Hide Frame Edges.

    • To hide frame edges, click Preview Mode  at the bottom of the Toolbox.

    • To show or hide a frame grid, choose View > Grids & Guides > Show Frame Grid, or View > Grids & Guides > Hide Frame Grid.

Use placeholders to design pages

When your final text and graphics are available, you can simply add them to a document; InDesign automatically creates frames when you import them (unless you’re importing text or graphics directly into existing frames). However, when you don’t have the content yet or you want to block out the design before adding text and graphics, you can use frames as placeholders.

Types of placeholders

A. Graphics frame placeholder B. Text frame placeholder 

For example, you might use any of these strategies:

  • Draw text frames using the Type tool, and draw graphics frames using the drawing tools. Thread empty text frames together so that importing final text takes just one step.

  • Draw empty placeholder shapes using drawing tools. When you’re ready to start designating areas for text and graphics, redefine the placeholders as either text or graphics frames.

  • Set frame fitting options for a placeholder frame so that when you place an image in the frame, the image is cropped and fit accordingly.

Redefine the purpose of paths and frames

  • To use a path or text frame as a graphics placeholder frame, select a path or an empty text frame, and then choose Object > Content > Graphic.
  • To use a path or graphics frame as a text placeholder frame, select a path or an empty graphics frame, and then choose Object > Content > Text.
  • To use a text or graphics frame as a path only, select an empty frame, and then choose Object > Content > Unassigned.

When a frame contains text or graphics, you cannot redefine it using the Object > Content menu. However, if you replace a graphic with text, the content type is automatically redefined.

About automatic layout adjustment

If you use the Document Setup or Margins and Columns commands to make changes to an existing layout, such as altering column widths or page orientation, you could spend considerable time and effort in rearranging objects to fit the new layout. The Layout Adjustment feature can do much of that work automatically. For example, you can quickly reformat a wide four-column document designed for an A4-size page to a tall two-column format on a U.S. legal-size page. With Layout Adjustment, text and graphics frames are moved and resized as necessary based on the new relative positions of column guides, page margins, and page edges.


Dragging column guides does not trigger layout adjustment.

The Layout Adjustment feature produces more predictable results when a layout is tightly based on a framework of margins, page columns, and ruler guides, and where objects are snapped to guides. Results are less predictable when objects don’t adhere to margins, columns, and guides, or when extraneous ruler and column guides clutter a page. Layout adjustment is not affected by the document grid or the baseline grid.

Page designed vertically, for print (left); page orientation changed for on‑screen viewing, with layout automatically refitted by the Layout Adjustment feature (right)

You can modify the rules in the Layout Adjustment dialog box. The Layout Adjustment feature attempts to approximate the proportions of the old layout in the new layout by doing the following:

  • Adding or removing column guides, if the new layout specifies a different number of columns.

  • If the page size changes, moving ruler guides to maintain proportional distances from page edges, margins, or column guides.

  • Moving objects already aligned to any margin, column, bleed/slug, or ruler guide, or to any two guides perpendicular to each other, so that the objects stay with those guides if the guides move during layout adjustment. Also, objects already aligned to any page edge or to any page edges perpendicular to each other are moved.

  • Proportionally resizing objects already aligned to two parallel margin, column, bleed/slug, or ruler guides or to guides on three sides, so that the objects stay with those guides if the guides move during layout adjustment. Also, objects aligned to two parallel page edges or to page edges on three sides are moved.

  • Maintain the relative position of objects that are anchored to the text as specified in the Anchored Object Options dialog box.

  • Moving objects to keep them in the same relative position on the page, if the page size changes.


Layout Adjustment affects columns inside a text frame differently than it does page columns. If the frame itself is resized by Layout Adjustment and the Fixed Column Width option is not selected in the Object > Text Frame Options dialog box, text frame columns are resized proportionally. If the Fixed Column Width option is selected, columns are added or removed as necessary.

Set options for layout adjustment

Note that changing options in the Layout Adjustment dialog box does not immediately change anything. Layout adjustment is triggered only by changes to page size, page orientation, margins, or column settings, or when a new master is applied. When you want to restore a layout to its previous state, you must undo the action that triggered the layout adjustment.

  1. Choose Layout > Layout Adjustment.

  2. Select Enable Layout Adjustment.

  3. Specify the layout adjustment options, and click OK.

Layout Adjustment options

Enable Layout Adjustment

Select this option so that layout adjustment will occur whenever you change page size, page orientation, margins, or columns.

Snap Zone

Type a value to specify how near an object must be to the closest margin guide, column guide, or page edge to snap to that element during layout adjustment.

Allow Graphics And Groups To Resize

Select this option to let the Layout Adjustment feature scale graphics, frames, and groups. When deselected, graphics and groups can be moved by Layout Adjustment, but not resized.

Allow Ruler Guides To Move

Select this option when you want ruler guides to be repositioned by the Layout Adjustment feature.

Ignore Ruler Guide Alignments

Select this option when ruler guides are not well positioned for layout adjustment. Objects will still align to column and margin guides and to page edges.

Ignore Object And Layer Locks

Select this option when you want the Layout Adjustment feature to reposition objects that are locked individually, or locked as a result of being on a locked layer.


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Adobe MAX 2024

Adobe MAX
The Creativity Conference

Oct 14–16 Miami Beach and online

Adobe MAX

The Creativity Conference

Oct 14–16 Miami Beach and online