InDesign has long been the king of page layout apps. A well-hidden older feature, Layout Adjustment, allowed you to intelligently move or scale your layout objects as your page size changed, and was a joy to discover. In the latest version of InDesign though, it’s all grown-up. Let’s take a look at the Liquid Layout support, and how it can tie in to the wonderful new world of Digital Publishing.
Back in the dim, distant past of CS5 (and even earlier) we had to make do with Layout Adjustment. Essentially, if you placed your objects near the page edges or guides, they’d stick to those guides if you changed the size of the page. Handy, but somewhat limited — and usually needing some manual cleanup.
Liquid Layouts looks like this, in the same spot Layout Adjustment used to live.
Layout Adjustment has now become Liquid Layouts. It’s in the same spot in the Control Panel if you select the page tool, and under some conditions, it’ll even do the same job.
The Page Tool allows for some interesting workflows. While you can still change the size of the page using the width and height controls in the Control bar, you can preview your page size changes instantly and interactively by dragging on the light blue handles around the edge of the page. They’re live and temporary; when you release the mouse, they snap back to their old position. Essentially, you can test how the layout will behave when you eventually do change the size.
This is what you’ll see while you move the edge of the page.
Create a few new objects on a page — one near the top-left corner, and a text box that sits to its right. Select the Page Tool, then choose Object-based from the Liquid Page Rule drop-down in the Control panel at the top of the screen.
Object-based rules give the most control.
If you now click on the object in the top right corner, you can see some circular pins, one on each side. When the circles are hollow, they allow the object to resize, or to move. When filled, they lock that property. By default, then, if you were to resize the page with the internal circles filled and the outer ones hollow, the size of the object will not change, but it will move around the page.
Click on the outer circles on the top and left sides to fill them, and you’ll see that the object now tracks the top left corner as you resize. Click to fill the outer boxes on all sides of the text box and it will be quite resilient to change.
Here’s an image pinned — make sure you get the text box too.
Guide-based rules work with the new liquid page rules — dashed guides that appear if you were to drag guides from the rulers while the Page Tool is active. Items that the liquid rules pass through are anchored, but you’ll probably get more control with the other methods. Scale changes everything, and could be handy for those working with the convenient A0/A1/A2 paper sizes. Re-center leaves everything the same with more or less space around the outside. But the best way to work for any longer documents is to set the option to Controlled by Master, then to set these options on the Master pages instead — the only way for true consistency.
Choose this on most pages, then set rules for your common layout objects on the Master Pages.
While these options are handy if you need to change the page size, they’re truly great if you want to explore the world of alternate layouts for digital publishing to a variety of devices. Once you have your Liquid Page Rules set up, choose Layout > Create Alternate Layout.
Here’s what you’d see converting A4 to landscape from portrait.
In the dialog that appears, choose Preserve Existing from the Liquid Page Rule drop-down menu. And with any luck, it’ll work well — certainly with the small changes needed to go from US Letter or A4 to an iPad’s 4:3 ratio. Good luck!