Almost all of my design requirements are given in millimeters, not points, pica, or any other classical measurement. I design for board games, and the printer's specifications always list their requirements in terms of millimeters for margin and bleed, not points and pica.

I'm making the jump from doing my layouts in Illustrator (which is happy to think in mm) to InDesign (which everyone assures me is the best program to do layouts in). But InDesign's insistence on converting every measurement I put into it to being in points and picas is wrecking my workflow.

How do I convert InDesign to defaulting to measuring dimensions in millimeters rather than points and picas?

  • FYI, for board games, packaging, or anything that's not a multiple page layout, you may not find that you gain much with InD. In fact, you may just really miss the drawing features. I think InD is great, but I don't use it much when I'm just creating a lot of art in a non-book/magazine/brochure format. Dec 3, 2012 at 4:21
  • There's places in board game design I'm hopeful InDesign will show its value: 1) Punchboards: Since you pay an up-front cost for every die-cut pattern, it's common to swap the art on a punch-board and leave the die-cut patterns the same. InDesign's framing features should be good here. 2) Decks of cards. 3) Rulebooks And in general, I'm hopeful InDesign won't choke as much as Illustrator when I start pasting in large numbers of high-res raster objects, like the art for the tokens on a punchboard. InDesign should be better optimized for that.
    – baudot
    Dec 3, 2012 at 9:52
  • InD isn't going to be happy with you either when you start pasting things in. In InD (as with Illy) you should always place graphics as links. InD is actually a little more prone to corruption if you start doing messy things like copy & paste. In full disclosure, I haven't done much with InD since CS3 -- a little CS5, but no 6. Dec 3, 2012 at 17:16
  • I wonder where the upvotes come to a question of which answer can be found by googling "indesign change units". Google even highlights the solution inside a box on the top of the page. To my opinion, this far from a good question. You know, a good question has to show that some work has already been done to find the answer. Jan 14, 2015 at 21:47
  • 2
    The question is two years old, when the information was strangely difficult to find, unlike today. And rest assured that I did try many ways to find it before querying the community. Now, please stop trying to police questions you don't agree with. If it's useful to someone else, let it be. Many times I've found Q&As on StackExchange that answered my exact question perfectly, and yet some hyperactive member of the community had seen necessary to try to get the question removed.
    – baudot
    Jan 15, 2015 at 1:11

1 Answer 1


With Indesign open but no document open go to Preferences > Units & Increments and set the drop down menus to Millimeters.

Indesign will then use MM as the default.

This won't change existing documents, but it will change any new document.


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