Setting InDesign Units and Increments
by Ron Kurtus (revised 2 June 2019)
Since the default InDesign units and increments are points (p) for print documents and pixels (px) for web and digital documents, you might want to change the defaults to something else for the documents you create. I typically prefer to use inches.
This is done through the Preferences > Units & Increments dialog box.
Questions you may have include:
- How do you access the Units & Increments dialog box?
- What the the Ruler Units?
- What are other items that can be adjusted?
This lesson will answer those questions.
Access Units & Increments
You can set the units used in a new document by closing all documents and selecting Edit > Preferences > Units & Increments.... The Preferences dialog box displays for Units & Increments:
Units and Increments dialog box
Set Ruler Units
When you are working on document, you can view rulers across the top and down the side of your InDesign work space. They can help in aligning objects. You can set the configuration or origin of the rulers, as well as their increments, from the dialog box.
The origin or starting point of the ruler can be set to Spread, Page, or Spine.
By selecting Spread, the ruler will start from the left hand side of the document and span across the spread of the document.
By selecting Page, the ruler will start at the left hand side and stop when it gets to the end of the page and it will start at zero again.
The Spine preset is useful when you are using facing pages. The ruler will start its zero point from the spine and work outwards to the edge of each document.
When working on a book, I set the Origin as Spine.
Horizontal and Vertical units
The default unit setting for a New Print Document is in picas, such that the document size might be listed as 51p0 by 66p0. Choices are:
- Inches Decimal
I prefer to see page sizes in decimal increments of inches.
Other items that you can set on this dialog box are:
- Other Units
- Point/Pica Size
- Keyboard Increments
It seems like the default setting for these items are sufficient.
It is good to set your preferences of units and increments when you start to use Adobe InDesign. You can access the dialog box for setting the preferences from Edit > Preferences > Units & Increments.
In designing a box with facing pages, I normally set the Origin as Spine. I also set the units as Decimal Inches. The other setting can be left as is.
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Resources and references
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Setting Units and Increments in InDesign