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Align and distribute objects

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Align panel overview

You use the Align panel (Window > Object & Layout > Align) to align or distribute objects horizontally or vertically along the selection, margins, page, or spread. Consider the following when working with the Align panel:

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

  • Text alignment is not affected by the Align Objects options. (See Align or 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.)

Align panel

A. Vertical alignment buttons B. Vertical distribution buttons C. Use Spacing distribution D. Horizontal alignment buttons E. Horizontal distribution buttons F. Alignment location options 

Align or distribute objects

You can use the Align panel to align or space selected objects horizontally or vertically to the selection, margins, page, or spread.

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

  1. Select the objects to align or distribute.
  2. 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.

  3. From the menu at the bottom of the panel, specify whether you want to align or distribute objects based on the selection, margins, page, or spread.
  4. Do one of the following:
    • 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, selected objects are spaced from top to bottom, starting with the top-most object. When you use spacing with horizontal distribution, selected objects are spaced from left to right, starting from the left-most object.


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

Align objects using the Gap tool

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 parent page items.

  1. Select the Gap tool .

  2. Move the pointer between two objects, and do any of the following actions:

    • Drag to move the gap and resize all objects aligned 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 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 (Mac OS) to move the gap and objects in the same direction. Adding the Shift key moves only the two nearest objects.

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


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

Distribute objects using Live Distribute

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. Select the objects.

  2. Start dragging a selection handle and hold down the Spacebar while dragging. Continue dragging to change the spacing between the objects.


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