InDesign provides many tools to help automate the placement of objects on a page. The Align Objects, Distribute Objects, and Distribute Spacing functions are three of the most helpful.

A new feature was introduced in CS6 that enhances the Align function. Now available in the Align panel (Window>Object & Layout>Align) is a feature called a key object, which enables objects to be aligned based on the position of a primary object.

In earlier versions of InDesign, a user could align objects to the selection, margins, page, or spread; now objects can be aligned to a key object as well. This new feature works well if there is one object that is already in the correct position within a group of items to be aligned.

Align to a Key Object

  1. Select a group of objects to be aligned by drawing a marquee around them with the Selection tool or by Shift-clicking.
  2. Click on one of the objects inside of the selection; a heavy outline in the layer color will designate that object as the key object.
  3. To choose a different key object, simply click on another object in the selection. To deselect the key object, click on it again or choose Cancel Key Object from the Align panel menu.
  4. Select the desired alignment function from the Align panel, or use the Align icons in the Control panel.

If you work on layouts that include multiple objects that need to be aligned, this is a great feature that you’re likely to use often!

Using Adobe InDesign CS6 Handbook


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Posted by: Monica Murphy

Monica Murphy has worked in the publishing industry for over 30 years supporting publishing operations of various sizes. In her role as Technical Product Manager for Technology for Publishing, she shares her publishing application expertise supporting a broad range of publishing clients in InDesign best practices, cross-platform content workflows, and InDesign Template strategies. Her weekly tip and blog posts have a committed following in the InDesign community, and as a long-time participant in the InDesign pre-release community, she regularly analyzes and provides feedback for upcoming features. Monica manages the authoring and publication of Technology for Publishing’s handbooks on InDesign, InCopy, and other associated titles.