Tour the InDesign Workspace - dummies

By Jennifer Smith

Just like the other applications in the Creative Cloud, InDesign has a standardized layout. Using panels that can be docked and a single-row Tools panel, you can keep much more space open in your work area.

The InDesign workspace, or user interface, includes a large number of tools and panels — but most users use only a few. You’ll likely use several panels over and over again, so you should keep them easily accessible. In the default user workspace, many of these panels are already docked to the right.

This figure shows how the InDesign workspace layout looks when you open a new document. The Windows workspace is nearly identical to the Macintosh version of InDesign.


Here are the elements that create the InDesign workspace:

  • Page: The main area of the InDesign workspace is a page. It’s the area that’s printed or exported when you finish making a layout.

  • Master pages: You can define how certain text elements and graphics appear in an entire document (or just portions of it) by using a master page. It’s much like a template for your document because you can reuse elements throughout the pages.

    For example, if you have an element you want on each page (such as page numbering), you can create it on the master page. If you need to change an element on the master page, you can change it at any time, and your changes are reflected on every page that the master page is applied to. You access master pages in the Pages panel.

  • Spread: A spread refers to a set of two or more pages that will be printed side by side. You usually see spreads in magazines and books when you open them. If your document has only a single page — front and back, or with only one side — you will not see a spread in the InDesign document window. InDesign will display only the one page, or, for a two-sided page, both pages (if you reduce the magnification).

  • Pasteboard: The pasteboard is the area around the edge of a page. You can use the pasteboard to store objects until you’re ready to put them into your layout. Pasteboards aren’t shared between pages or spreads.

    For example, if you have certain elements placed on a pasteboard for pages 4 and 5, you can’t access these elements when you’re working on pages 8 and 9 — so each page or spread has its own pasteboard.