I am having trouble understanding how to set up alternating paging (left and right) for InDesign.

I know how to do it for facing pages. The problem is, with facing pages, that if I need to add a page later in the middle of a document, then my bleeds can get messed up having to manually fix a lot of pages (see attached image).

The other options I have read about also deal with a lot of “manual” work that just is too prone to human error when dealing with a lot of pages, i.e., having two masters and generating even numbers to apply one of the masters too, etc.

Is there any way to easily have alternating page numbering while still being able to add pages and not have to worry about human error missing anything?

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  • This question is perhaps in fact the same issue as in your first question? Just more to the point. I get your problem. I would like to help, but it's both very simple and very complex at the same time. Still thinking about how to answer.
    – Wolff
    Jun 8, 2022 at 19:52
  • Truth of the matter is that it's really not common for one to add new pages in the middle of a document. Don't get me wrong, it can happen, but it's a very rare thing. In doing so it does require some manual fixing of Parent assignments in most instances. I would perhaps look at the workflow and try to eliminate the need to insert new pages mid-document. That may mean copy is finalized before Parents are assigned to pages. Essentially, one kind of wants the page count settled before designing Parent pages, at least enough to only need new pages near/at the end of the doc.
    – Scott
    Jun 8, 2022 at 21:41
  • It is customarily more common to add a new spread than it is to add a new single page mid-document. Primarily due to needing to be divisible by 4, 8, 16, etc. If a spread is added the bleeds/page numbers aren't an issue.
    – Scott
    Jun 8, 2022 at 21:53
  • It seems like a pretty common thing to me, and I am baffled indesign makes it such a process. Clients change their minds all the time, content can change or need to be updated. I can't be the only one that needs to insert a page into the middle of a document and want to keep page numbering and layout integrity?
    – Rex Banner
    Jun 8, 2022 at 23:12
  • I've worked for 30+ years and could count the number of times I needed a single page added mid-document on one hand. I realize, my experience is not everyone's experience. But you should realize it's not typical workflow if spreads are a consideration for production. I, personally, reassign Parent pages when needed. One has to consider how Adobe would automate what you're seeking. Adobe, to their credit, does not like to move and reposition objects in any automatic manner. They try to honor the user choice above all else. What you're seeking is they throw that mindset out.
    – Scott
    Jun 8, 2022 at 23:19

2 Answers 2


To me this is more of a workflow issue than a technical issue.

In general I would always try to avoid adding a single page to a book or booklet. I almost always regard the spread as a whole. Inserting a single page would shuffle the whole book and ruin the balance of every spread.

If I absolutely had to insert one page I would see if I could get away with adding a whole spread, or perhaps add one page and then another page a few pages ahead to isolate the shuffling to a few pages.

If you are making a book or booklet I would strongly recommend that you work with Facing Pages. You have to see what the reader will see in the finished product. (Working in single pages also makes you lose a tiny slice of your images as you will have an unneeded inner bleed.)

So setting up page numbering is not a problem. Just add Current Page Number markers to your Parent pages and InDesign will automatically handle even and uneven pages.

When inserting a single page in a document with facing Pages, InDesign will actually try to help you maintaining "design integrity" as you call it. Objects will be moved according to the margins. So if you have a layout where all objects are placed in relation to the margins everything moves in good order.

But if you have a layout which is off-center according to the column, InDesign can't help you flip the orientation of the layout (And it shouldn't! It would be extremely annoying having some AI trying to design for me.) It still simply moves objects according to the margins.

If an object crosses the page border it will not be moved according to the margins, but according to the page. This can cause some confusion. Notice in the next example how the magenta and the yellow rectangle change their relative position as the yellow rectangle is moved according to the margins and the magenta rectangle is moved according to the page. Also note the craziness that occurs when the cyan triangle first moves according to the margins because it's inside the page when on an even page, but then ends up exceeding the uneven page and therefore must be moved according to the page when the inserted page is deleted again. That's just how it works.

So one solution to your problem would be to have identical inner and outer margins and not adding bleed before the order of the pages have been approved.

You could still make sure that 3 mm bleed will be easy to add later, no matter if the page ends up as an even or uneven page. For example like this:

Addendum: Achieving automatic bleed using anchored objects

This is a bit of a hacky solution, but you seem to be very interested in being able to move around pages with full page images without being forced to manually adjust the bleed, so check it out and see if it makes sense for you to use.

  • First create an Object Style for your full page images and enter the Object Style options.

  • Under Size and Position Options set Size > Adjust to Height & Width and set the Width and Height to the size of a full page image including bleed.

    (I have an A5 document here so the width is 148 + 3 = 151 mm and the height is 210 + 3 + 3 = 216 mm.)

  • Under Anchored Object Options set Position to Custom. Tick on Relative to Spine. Set both Anchored Object > Reference Point and Anchored Position > Reference Point to the middle towards the spine. Set Anchored Position > X Relative To and Anchored Position > Y Relative To to Page Edge.

  • Optional: Under Frame Fitting Options you can tick on Auto-Fit and set Content Fitting > Fitting to Fill Frame Proportionally.

Now you can simply apply the object style to an image and copy/paste the image into any text frame on a page. Part of the text frame must be inside the page, but besides that the position doesn't matter. The images will be positioned according to the spine, so you can move pages around as you like and the images will always have an outer bleed.

I'm deliberately placing the text frames a bit outside the page so they are easier to grab later. Otherwise they are behind the anchored images.

The reason I'm not just using the Size and Position Options to position the images is that sadly it can't position according to the spine and it also doesn't allow negative position. I hope this feature gets better in future versions.

  • I really appreciate the thorough response. And I understand what you are saying, it just seems so bizarre to me that if I have a document with 1000 pages using spreads, all with images that bleed, that if I need to add one page after page 3, that I would then have to go in and manually adjust 997 pages....
    – Rex Banner
    Jun 11, 2022 at 17:34
  • @RexBanner, well it's such a rare situation for me. It would ruin 498 spreads where I made sure that the images go well together. You send a different message with two people looking at each other than looking away from each other. Besides that, I have a hard time imagining how InDesign should help you here. It should somehow understand that some frames are meant to have bleeds, others shouldn't? And it should be allowed to change your design (moving stuff 3 mm)? InDesign is mostly for directly designing stuff. Not so much for "programming".
    – Wolff
    Jun 11, 2022 at 18:31
  • Note that if you work with text (and perhaps images) flowing from page to page in one long story it's more automated. But you of course get other issues if you add a chunk of text in the beginning of the document.
    – Wolff
    Jun 11, 2022 at 18:38
  • your the second our third person to tell me that it is a rare thing, but man, it just seems like an easy addition for indesign to add a toggle that "allows spread shift" or something. I can't be the only one who needs to add or delete pages.
    – Rex Banner
    Jun 11, 2022 at 20:47
  • Ah, but it does allow it. Your only issue seems to be how objects exceeding the page move according to their position on the page. You want them to mirror position. But if other objects on the page mirrored, it would be annoying. So you seem to want a special rule for some objects and not for others.
    – Wolff
    Jun 11, 2022 at 21:04

I suspect this setup will depend on the printing and/or binding process so I suggest you contact your printer. I know that stapled booklets can sometimes just be a stack of sheets, folded and stapled in the middle. It'll vary depending on whether you are printing both sides of the paper or just one. Here's an example explanation for booklets printed as vinyl record inserts. It makes sense when you think about how the pages are assembled and stapled.

  • My issue is more, how do I add pages while maintaining design integrity, then dealing with the final printing.
    – Rex Banner
    Jun 8, 2022 at 18:49
  • @RexBanner yes I guess my answer might not be all that helpful. I think fundamentally you have a choice to make: incorporate a lot of border space in your overall design (on all sides top/bottom/left/right) or you'll be fixing bleeds. I've no print experience to speak of, but the templates I've seen typically have bleed/cut/safe areas marked.
    – S. Imp
    Jun 8, 2022 at 18:55
  • I think you are right, I just need to set up my page dimensions to include the bleed dimensions and that should solve the problem
    – Rex Banner
    Jun 8, 2022 at 19:39
  • It did occur to me that if you could template each page with some guides and turn on snap-to-grid, this might expedite any adjustments you have to do. Ideally, you could just limit your art to a certain consistent sizing. Adding a new page would still require you to move the art to address bleed issues, but the guides would make it easier to just drop it in the right spot.
    – S. Imp
    Jun 8, 2022 at 19:57

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