novice here.

So I'm confused about baseline grids. It's the first time I'm using them and here's the scenario. I will be typsetting about 30 odd volumes of pure text, no graphics, a reference work basically, with no columns, just the one major text frame on each page, each volume about 4-500 pages long. I understand that I should use a basline grid, or that has been the feeling I'm getting from reading around about them. So I watched a few videos on Lynda.com and set one up, my question is that when I snap to grid it obviously snaps the lines to the grid but then the 'space after' for each paragraph which I had set seems to be overridden and as a result the gap between each paragraph is too big for my liking. It doesn't look good. I preferred a space after of about 4 mm, but this is bigger than that.

So my first question is: is there any way around this? How can you use a baseline grid while maintaining a space after setting that you have in place?

Do I actually have to use a baseline grid? I can understand it would make things look more consistent and do feel like using it, if it is best practice but not at the cost of communication. Do I have to use it for every paragraph? Or do you think it would be an idea to maybe just use it for the first paragraph on each page?

Anyway, any feedback would be greatly appreciated and if you do respond please do so as though you are talking to a total novice.

Thank you.

Edit: adding screen shots to explain my confusion further.

I've filled it with Arabic placeholder text, in this pic, the snap to baseline is off and I've set it the way I want it with 4 mm space after, I like this much space between each paragraph, I don't see anything wrong with it? The paragraphs on each page are starting at the same height, so what's the problem here?

Grid off

In this pic, snap to baseline is on and I don't like the large space between each paragraph which it is doing since it is snapping to the grid:

enter image description here

And here are both pages this time showing the baseline off and on respectively for the above two pages:

Off enter image description here

and on: enter image description here

2 Answers 2


While making a book it's extremely important to use baseline grid because

  • Pages are thin and transparent and you don't want line to show from the page before, and baseline grid avoids this from happening
  • 2 pages side to side that the lines are not aligned to each other is unaesthetic to the point of almost unreadable

Here's how you work with baseline grid:

  1. You decide your document's main font size and leading, as well as the document's margins
  2. You go to the Indesign preferences and in the guides and grids sector you change the starting point of the baseline grid to the hegiht of your top margin and the "increment every" option to your leading
  3. On your document right click anywahere and choose "show baseline grid" and on the character window of every single text box you choose "align to baseline grid"

A few things to notice:

  • If you increase even 0.00001 point from the set leading, baseline grid will immediately jump 2 rows.
  • You can set the "align to baseline grid" to every box by setting an aligned box in the master page
  • I'd set the leading in a way the big fonts (titles, etc.) look good aligned as well by jumping 2 or 3 rows.
  • Thank you for that but I'm not sure what you meant by, "You can set the "align to baseline grid" to every box by setting an aligned box in the master page."
    – Yajee
    Commented Apr 16, 2015 at 9:46
  • Do you know how to use master pages in indesign?
    – Naty
    Commented Apr 16, 2015 at 9:47
  • Well, I'm learning at the moment, I can set up basic master pages yes, but am not fully up to date with all the ins and outs.
    – Yajee
    Commented Apr 16, 2015 at 9:59
  • 1. I can see you added pictures - did you understand how to solve your spacing issue? 2. You can Add text boxes on your master page then just place the text inside them on every page, that way you need to set up all of the settings (basline grid, position, etc.) only once
    – Naty
    Commented Apr 16, 2015 at 10:03
  • I understand now how to set the baseline grid up. After looking at the screen-shots, do you think there is a need for me to use a baseline grid? What's wrong with the page that is aligned without it? I don't like those large spaces between paragraphs which snapping to the baseline grid produces, what is wrong with not using the baseline grid?
    – Yajee
    Commented Apr 16, 2015 at 10:08

The basic problem is that you can't set a baseline grid to your leading unless you either have no space between paragraphs, or the "space before" setting is exactly one increment of leading.

A very common preference is to space paragraphs one half of the leading, so your baseline grid must then be half of your leading in order to make it work. Headings would be set at a multiple of the baseline.

  • Note that when setting the baseline grid to half the leading, this will result in some paragraphs on opposite and flip-side pages being misaligned by half a line. On thin paper stock (such as newsprint), this is usually undesirable.
    – user53083
    Commented Nov 26, 2016 at 3:20

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