InDesign How-to: Take Object Styles Where They've Never Gone Before

This article is excerpted from the June/July 2008 issue of InDesign Magazine (#24). Buy the issue or subscribe to the magazine at

InDesign’s object styles are key to saving time and making your documents more consistent. A single click in the Object Styles panel can apply a host of formatting to one or more selected objects. For example, you can assign a fill color, a stroke style, text frame insets, graphic frame fitting options, and about a hundred other settings to frames and paths.

But there’s one thing object styles can’t do, and it drives me crazy: You can’t use object styles to apply page geometry—the position of an object on the page.

Applying page geometry could be helpful in a wide range of documents. For instance, you could tell InDesign that every time you assign a “footer” object style to a text frame, it would jump to the bottom of the page in exactly the correct position. Or you could assign a sidebar style and have the object move to the side margin. But alas, you can’t do it. So why am I even bringing it up here? Because there is a way around the limitation.

The workaround is based on a simple fact: Although you can’t assign page geometry for a free-floating object, you can assign it for an anchored object!

In this how-to, I’ll show you how to use this trick to create a slider along a numeric indicator. To help you catch on even more quickly, I’ve created a sample InDesign file that contains all the elements you need to follow along. That file is called “SliderSampleFile.indd” and it’s attached to the PDF that contains the rest of this how-to.

Click on the image below to download the how-to and sample file.

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Posted on: October 6, 2008

David Blatner

David Blatner is the author or co-author of 15 books, including Real World InDesign, Spectrums: Our Mind-Boggling Universe From Infinitesimal to Infinity, and The Joy of Pi. He is also the author of InDesign Essential Training and the InDesign Insider Training titles at David is the co-host of InDesignSecrets and PePcon: The Print + ePublishing Conference, and is the co-founder of Creative Publishing Network.

2 Comments on InDesign How-to: Take Object Styles Where They've Never Gone Before

  1. Does anyone have any idea how to do that.
    I work on newsletters and sometimes I add an image under the text and later the client wants to add more text above and when that happens the text runs deeper and the image remains in the same place it was originally pasted in.

    How do I anchor those elements together so that the image moves with the added text above it, thereby keeping the title of the image over the image?

    Any ideas would certainly be appreciated.

    Tar Beaty

  2. Nice – but under what circumstances would one use that particular device/object?

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