I read this question regarding Fireworks layers, where it said that master pages have to be applied underneath other layers.

Is this true for InDesign as well? If not, how does one put the Master Page content on top?

I was playing out a scenario that another user presented where you'd have one piece of text and different backgrounds.

2 Answers 2


Master pages in Indesign are always seen as on the bottom of the object stack. However, you can use layers in Indesign as well. This somewhat breaks the object stack logic. Layers in Indesign allow you to stack any object, master page or otherwise.

For example....

  • new document
  • add a new layer via the Layers Panel
  • Move edit the Master Page
  • highlight Layer 1 in the Layers panel and draw a filled rectangle.
  • Highlight Layer 2 in the Layers Panel and draw another filled rectangle.
  • Switch to the document page
  • highlight Layer 1 in the Layers Panel and draw yet another filled rectangle

You'll end up with stacking similar to this....


The magenta rectangle is on Layer 2 on my Master Page. The yellow rectangle is on layer 1 on the master page. The cyan rectangle is on layer 1 on my document page.

So, while master pages are always seen as the bottom of the object stack, layers take precedence and will allow you to stack things above a document page if you place objects on higher layers.

In your scenario, you could place the text on the master page on Layer 2, and then place backgrounds on Layer 1 in the document pages.

An important note is that you can apply master pages to other master pages. It's possible to have Master Page B which has Master Page A applied to it. This can assist in keeping any design fluent while maintaining common items.

  • 8
    Whole lot of text just to say: Put master page content in a layer above your normal page content.
    – Joonas
    Sep 6, 2012 at 8:03
  • 2
    Yes, Scott does an excellent job of explaining and illustrating answers thoroughly. He's our resident Illustrator god. Sep 6, 2012 at 10:36
  • 8
    Thanks Lauren :) And Joonas.. Maybe it's just me but I prefer to know WHY something works, not just how to do it. So, yeah, it may have been more than what was needed, but it may also assist someone who doesn't get master pages logic at all.
    – Scott
    Sep 6, 2012 at 12:11
  • Works for me! Glad to add this feather to the cap. Thanks!
    – Brendan
    Sep 6, 2012 at 14:44
  • I don't see how the way this works ‘breaks’ the object stacking logic. The crucial detail here is that InDesign pages (master or document) do not have any object stacking logic at all: they have only layer stacking logic. InDesign layers, on the other hand, have object stacking logic. All objects are, for stacking purposes, children of layers, and each layer constitutes its own, closed object stacking context. Master pages are neither top nor bottom of any object stack, but master page objects are always at the bottom of their respective layers’ object stacks. Nov 5, 2015 at 2:28
  • Make a new top-most layer (above your current layer).
  • While on top-most layer, navigate to Master-page and add your content.
  • Result will sit above original layer.
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