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This article is from June 2, 2011, and is no longer current.

Keep Your Pages in Order with Color Labels


Buried in the pages panel is a new feature in CS5 (and CS5.5) that you might have missed, color labels. Color labels let you apply a highlight to the bottom of pages in the pages panel. When you select a page and either right click or go to the pages panel menu, you will get an option to add a color label. The label doesn’t print, but instead it shows up under the pages thumbnail.

Color Labels right click menu

Using color labels is pretty straightforward, but they do have an interesting feature. When you are choosing a color, you have the option to use the master page color. This can be useful to visually see the pages in your layout are connected to a particular master page.

Pages Panel with Color Labels applied in InDesign CS5

Color labels are pretty straight forward to use, but they have a variety of uses including:

  • Status (red has not been started, green is complete)
  • Selects (which version of an ad that you or the client like best)
  • Sections (blue is the guitar section, red is the drum section)

If you have come up with a unique use for color labels, please share them in the comments.

James Fritz is a Principal Program Manager: Content Tools and Workflows at LinkedIn.
  • Phyllis says:

    nice! Never noticed that, thanks for the post!

  • Bob Levine says:

    Good tip especially for anyone having any slow down issues in InDesign. I’ve found one way to speed things up is to turn off the thumbnail generation in the pages panel and this adds back a little bit of the ability to visually identify pages.

  • Eugene Tyson says:

    It’s a nice idea, and implementing a colour coded system is great for a lot of workflows. I know one place that has every page (yes not article) on a separate document. And that gets flagged in Mac using Labels, as green, red, orange etc.

    FWIW – you can also set the master page to use a colour label – then in the pages you can assign a different colour – or the option to USE MASTER COLOUR is there.

    I was largely disappointed with this feature. Largely because I think I recommended this for InDesign a few years back. I remember talking to someone about it, and they thought it was a good idea, but I don’t think they fully grasped the idea.

    I’m not saying this is based on my idea, I hope it’s not :) Anyway here’s how I envisaged a feature like this would work:

    Assign a Colour Swatch (from the swatches panel) to the page. Then for a magazine, for example, that has different coloured sections . Even adding multiple Master Colours, for a colour scheme build, for example. This is how I thought it might work:

    Master A = Pantone 376 (or a CMYK/RGB build)- that shows up under the page, currently only a few are selectable and they are not in the swatches panel

    In Paragraph, Character, Table, Object etc. Styles, I thought it would be nice to be able to set the Colour to be “Master Page Swatch”.

    For headings then it would read the “Master Page” swatch that you set, and apply that colour.

    If you had tables, paragraph, character, object, etc. styles, then changing the Master Swatch colour would result in all things changing.

    I can do this already by assigning a specific watch to every style, then removing that swatch or editing the swatch, but if that’s used anywhere else in the publication it gets changed too, which is undesirable. Instead it could flag a warning “This swatch is in use as a Master Page colour”. Which would be a reminder that changing that colour will alter anything assigned within that master page.

  • Elliy says:

    I hadn’t noticed that new feature. Thanks for pointing that out!

  • mckayk777 says:

    @ Eugene Tyson
    Love the idea of having colour swatches assigned to master pages will help clean up so much clutter. Assign master page A go page 1 and the colours that are on master page A show up in the swatches nothing else. Really would be a handy little add on.

  • Christophe Dhélin says:

    @ Eugene Tyson
    Really great idea, definitely better than the ID color label feature.
    Maybe some scripter will help you ;-)

  • Hill says:

    Wish you could export the colored pages to PDF. It would make separating a PDF for printing easier, e.g. color pages (red), black & white pages (blue), foldout pages (green), etc.

  • James Fritz says:

    @ Hill

    A workaround would be to put a colored frame each of the masterpages, but make sure that it was on its own layer. When you export to PDF, but sure to choose Acrobat 6 (or later) and include the layers. In Acrobat, you could visually see the color bars and then turn off that layer before you printed.

    Not an ideal solution, but it would get the job done.

  • Hill says:

    Great idea! I’ll give that a try. Many thanks!

  • Eugene Tyson says:

    If you made that a button you can set that to be viewable in the PDF but not printable!

  • James Fritz says:

    @ Eugene

    Even better tip, I love it!

  • Alberto says:

    Fantastic tip!

  • klipp86 says:

    I know this is a very old thread but I thought I’d chime in. I love using Page Color Labels. When I make a 100+ page catalog, and there are corrections on only about 10 pages throughout the document, I run through, make the changes, and flag the page with a change on it with a page color.

    The old UI on InDesign for Mac (before CC) let you scroll through the Pages Panel whilst in the Export… dialog box. Now it’s locked stationary, inaccessible while the dialog is open. So now I either have to write down which pages have changed to them on a piece of paper, or remember before I choose File > Export.

    I wish there was a script or a feature to somehow export all pages marked with a particular color label. Has anyone done this? I’d love to be pointed in the right direction if so.

    Thanks for the help if you can offer any!

  • Hi there klipp86 … when you’re looking for a script and you’ve not found anything here or other InDesign hangouts, it’s a good idea to post the question on the InDesign Scripting forum on In my experience you’ll either be pointed to a script’s web page, or some kind scripter with time on his/her hands will write a basic one for you on the spot. (If you’re doing this for your business, the next step is to hire the scripter as a freelancer offline to fine tune it or add other features, I’ve done this more than a few times for clients.)

    I posted your question over the weekend and we already have a couple scripts ready to test:

    I love the InDesign scripting community! Such wonderful folks.

  • Ciku wa Njoroge says:

    Thanks for this piece!

  • jay says:

    Is there a way to select the only pages which are marked with specific color label?
    so that it becomes easier for exporting selected pages only.

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