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Quick Navigation in a Long Document

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I’ve been heads-down working on a very lengthy InDesign file the last couple of weeks. This prompted me to write up a 3 quick tips to help you move around quickly in a long document.

Go to Page

You can use the “Go To Page” shortcut, Command+J (Mac) or Ctrl+J (Windows). This will allow you to “Jump” to any page in your file. In the dialog box that appears, type the page number you want to go to. You can precede the page number with the name of an alternate layout followed by a colon, such as “LetterV:16”. Or, if you are using section numbering, you can precede the page number with the section prefix, such as C13. Put a plus sign in front of the number to indicate an absolute page number. For example, +15 would be the fifteenth page in the file, regardless of the page number.

Command+J or Ctrl+J will display the "Go To Page" dialog box.

Return to Where You Were

Once you’ve “jumped” to a page with the “Go To Page” shortcut, you may want to quickly return back to where you came from. Use the Layout > Go Back command to do this. The keyboard shortcut is Command+PageUp (Mac) or Ctrl+PageUp (Windows). Unfortunately, this keyboard shortcut doesn’t work if you have a text insertion point. If you use this command frequently, you might want to assign a different keyboard shortcut using Edit > Keyboard Shortcuts.

Use Page Labels

When editing a long document, I usually like to display small page icons in the Pages panel. But one drawback is that you can’t see page thumbnails with small icons, so you can’t tell one page from another. CS5 and later offer a quick way to “label” page icons with a color. This can function as a quick “bookmark”, or a way to mark different content, whatever you want to use the colored label for. To add a color label to a page in CS6, right-click or ctrl-click on the page, and follow the path in the screenshot below. In CS5, the command isn’t buried so deep. Just right-click or ctrl-click on the page and choose “Color Label”.

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How to access the color label in CS6

These are only 3 tips. There are many more ways to make moving around a long document easier. If you have a favorite, share it in the comments!

Keith Gilbert is a design consultant, developer, educator, speaker, and author. His work has taken him throughout North America, Africa, Europe, and Asia. During his 35+ year career his clients have included Adobe, Apple, Target, Oracle, and the United Nations. He is the author of several popular titles for LinkedIn Learning, Adobe Press, and CreativePro. Find him at and on Twitter @gilbertconsult
  • Oooh I love the Page Labels one.

    I use a Long Docs custom workspace. One of the panels I added to it was Bookmarks, specifically for navigation. Because any TOC you make with “Create PDF Bookmarks” turned on automatically populates the Bookmarks panel, and they work just like in Acrobat. Double-click to jump to that location.

    Just create an automatic TOC (Layout > Table of Contents) with the styles that are used by section names or chapter names or even figure captions or any combination. Whatever you need to jump to quickly. Even if you’re not going to use that TOC … just put it on the pasteboard anywhere, leave it overset if you want. It has to be in the doc if you want to see the Bookmarks it autogenerates though.

    Of course you can always forego the TOC and add your own Bookmarks by clicking the icon at the bottom of the panel. Or a combo of the 2 methods.

  • Quentin says:

    I wish there was a way to color-label documents in an ID book – for a tool designed specifically with long documents in mind, it’s woefully short on customization options.

  • Adam Jury says:

    You can also apply a color label to a master page, and that label will carry over to every instance of that page in the book.

  • Matt Mayerchak says:

    Color labels are great for identifying chapters of a book, or articles in a magazine, quickly in the pages panel.

  • Rich says:


    How about putting a note into your document and being able to jump to it.

    You could apply a note to an object.

    Both scripts are free.

    All the best.

  • Eugene says:

    I basically do as Anne-Marie does – it’s pretty efficient.

    But I love the other ways, very inventive :)

  • Jon milburn says:

    With Anne-Marie’s solution above, you could create you toc on an unused page and then create a new view in a new window. Then you would have a handy navigation window next to your working window.

  • Phil Osborn says:

    Just put a tagline of text – “cars” “p10” – whatever you’ll recall and won’t appear anywhere in the actual text on the page, on the pasteboard close alongside the page. Then do a find CTRL F on that tagline.

    It’s called “thinking outside the box.”

  • Johnvyn says:

    Thank you Anne-Marie. I found the bookmark feature to be very useful.

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