Use Layers to Keep Auto Page Numbers on Top in InDesign


Page numbering in InDesign

A frequent InDesign question from designers for our prepress department concerns how to keep Master Page page numbering on top when design elements on individual pages cover that area. By default, the Master Page items will lie below any other page elements in the document. Our easy solution is achieved with the Layers palette. The InDesign Layers palette works just like it does in PhotoShop or Illustrator, and can easily solve the problem of disappearing page numbering.

Auto Page Numbering InDesign

Auto Page Numbering is set up on your master pages. Yet, by default, these numbers will be covered up by any page element in your document that crosses over that area. To work around this fact, create a new layer (while still on your Master Pages layout) and give it a name you will understand, such as “Top Master Items” or “Page Numbers.” With this layer highlighted, set up auto page numbering, and any other master  items that you want to always be visible above any other elements. Just be sure to keep that layer on TOP, and to work on the OTHER lower layer(s) for all placement of text and graphics as you create your document.

The Layers Palette in InDesignCC

This is a very simple set-up using Layers. However getting use to managing page numbers this way can help introduce you to the functions of the Layers palette and help you begin considering the more advanced ways it can assist your workflow. Layers can allow you to “version” your document – creating multiple, coexisting editions of your document using different languages,  images or copy. For example, if you set up all your text on one layer separate from any other graphic elements, you could then create additional layers of text in Spanish and French. By toggling these layers on and off you have 3 separate language versions within the same document, all using the same imagery and design. When exporting to pdf, be sure to turn on and off the desired layers for that output.

As with most projects, having a clear plan in the beginning can sidestep a lot of annoying roadblocks later. A good idea for beginning a print project in InDesign is to plan out the scope of your design with a few answers first: the size and number of pages, margins and bleed area, facing or non-facing pages, section and page numbering and how you will use Layers to help organize your work. Of course, all of these can be altered or added after the design begins but often you will save time and work by being organized at the start.


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