Please forgive me if this questions sounds a little off, but I'm struggling to understand it let alone explain to you.

When setting up a document in InDesign, I want all of my columns and grids to be within relationship with one another. To do this I understand that everything should be based on my leading value.

For example my leading value is 12pt, so in relation to that I set up the gutters on my margins and lay out grid (guides) to be 12pt and also I do the same in the grid preferences.

After my Margins and columns are set and my baseline grid is turned on, I then create my layout grid and this is where my brain simply explodes because the layout grid never lines up with the baseline grid when working with a aspect ratio.

I hope you all understand what it is I'm trying to say and can anyone pleeeeease help me get past this block?

What I'm hoping to achieve from this answer is for me to be able to setup all of my grids and margins on any size page, set at any leading value at any aspect ratio.

Thank you so much for your help!

Marginsguidesgrid prefoff lineimage

  • This seems like quite a general question which makes it hard to answer, but it's also a little unclear. Are you struggling with coming up with a good layout? Or is InDesign acting odd when you're moving elements around? Sep 9, 2014 at 13:04
  • Can you show us a screenshot example of your problem? Sep 9, 2014 at 13:14
  • just added some snap shots, hope this helps? Sep 9, 2014 at 16:25

2 Answers 2


I'll start off by pointing out that fitting a 5x7 box into a 2x3 area (plus some gutters (which will only make the area thinner rather than fatter). You may find those horizontal guides very restrictive here. You can't even fit 7 into 5 anyway; they're both primes.

What we can do, however, is to at least get those horizontal guides to line up with the baseline. I'll show you my fairly visual way of creating simple grids like this. I'll write as if I'm making a grid from scratch:

  1. Start by looking at your leading. As you want to fit 1x1 and 2x2 boxes into your grid, you'll need the leading to be the same as the gutter width (or the square isn't going to line up perfectly when it is 2x2 or larger)... I'm going to use 10.8pt here (no particular reason).
  2. Choose the number columns and set your gutter width the same as the leading chosen for the baseline grid. I'll use 5 columns too.
  3. Experiment with squares, lining them up with the baseline grid (ignore the current columns width!). How many lines tall and wide your squares are will influence how much margin you end up with.
  4. If we settle on 8 lines then the square is 30.48mm wide; this is the column width that we want. A4 page width is 210, we have 5 columns and 10.8pt (3.81mm) leading & gutters so add up the width of all your 5 columns and 4 gutters (167.64mm in this case) and subtract that off your page width and divide by two so you get what a single margin would be ((210mm-167.64mm)/2 = 21.18mm). Insert this as your margins.
  5. Repeat this for the height/top and bottom margins.

You'll end up with something like this:

enter image description here

(I've nudged my grid up a bit too at the end)

This is a grid where the ratio between the squares and the gutters is 8:1. If you made squares that were 9 lines high then it'd be 9:1, etc. You can probably scale these squares up and down and measure the total width and space between the squares for new margin/leading values if you're happy with the ratio but want a bit less or more margin. If you want a different ratio of lines per square then you'll need to go back a few steps. If you want to change the leading without scaling everything then you'll need to start from scratch.

If you have specific margin widths then you're going to have to come at it from a different angle. I found this post with linked, complicated, grid calculator that you may find useful: http://font.is/grid-systems-calculate-grids-for-layouts-in-indesign-with-the-help-of-the-easy-grid-calculator/

  • Thank you so much that has help me no end, your a life saver! I understand that there still more to grids but this is a grate start and again thank you. Sep 10, 2014 at 15:25
  • Do you have any advice on how to set up a grid system on a tri fold leaflet, seeing as all three panels are different sizes? Sep 10, 2014 at 15:27
  • You're welcome. Be sure to mark the answer so it doesn't look like the question is unanswered. Sep 10, 2014 at 16:38
  • I assume you mean because the inner flap needs to be smaller to fit inside when folded? I'd just keep the grid the same but just chop off some margin because you only need that panel to be around 1-1.5mm or so shorter anyway. No one would notice... You're less likely to want a different column width on just one panel. If your question is more than that then you should probably make a new question so anyone who's searching for the same thing in future will see it easilly. Sep 10, 2014 at 16:39
  • Cool beans! I was a little worried that maybe there was some kind of jazzy thing you had to do but if I for example just have a normal 3 column layout on a A4 landscape page and send my grid across the whole thing like you showed me before then I should be just fine yeah? Because at first I was creating three separate panels (one at 100mm then 99mm then 98mm) and I tried to create some grid system that would work across all three and as you could imagine I was making life pretty hard for myself. Thanks again for all of your help mate, you’ve been a star! Sep 10, 2014 at 19:55

I had this problem and it was driving me crazy. I read marcusdoesstuff's excellent answer many times but because I am terrible at math I couldn't make sense of it.

The main takeaway for those math-deficient people like me is ADJUST THE BOTTOM MARGIN until your baseline fits into your horizontal guides/hanglines. No math needed - you just need to grow/shrink the bottom margin until the baseline has enough rows to match your guides evenly.

  • Hello @TCDesigner, welcome to GDSE and thank you for your answer. Could you maybe add some screenshots to show the process your going through. It's always easier to have some visuals to follow.
    – PieBie
    Jul 19, 2016 at 18:56

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