How to Create Child Master Pages in Adobe InDesign

How to Create Child Master Pages in Adobe InDesign

Most of the time we are using a couple of master pages in Adobe InDesign. Master pages can be applied to any page in the document and all elements or objects placed on the master will be applied to regular pages in the document. In larger documents chances are that you want to use several master pages or variations of parent master page. One of the lesser known features is the ability to create child master pages based on parent master page. Elements or objects from parent master page will be automatically applied to child master pages with the ability to override them on child master pages.

Steps to create child master page

I will assume that you already know how to create a master page in InDesign. To create child master page do the following:

  • Click on Pages panel menu and choose New Master. Alternatively, you can right-click and to choose same option.
  • Create new master page in indesign
  • In the New Master dialog expand Based on Master: drop-down list and choose existing master page which you want to use as parent master page. Click OK button to confirm and create new (child) Master Page.
  • New Master dialog in InDesign

An alternative method is to click on the master spread which you want to use as a parent and to drag onto child master page or spread which you want to inherit parent master page items.
Click and drag to apply parent master page to child master page

Edit the layout of child master page

Probably you will want to add some extra elements/objects on child pages or to override them. If you add some object to child master page it will be visible only on pages to which is applied child master page. Objects or elements won't be transferred or applied to parent master page.
Child master page modified

If you want to override or modify parent master object then do the following:

Ctrl/Cmd + Shift + click on object or element that you want to override or modify like to scale rectangle which is added to parent master and automatically transferred or applied to child master page.
Override parent master page item on child master page

Make changes like transformation, for example.
After overriding page master item on child master page

Update parent master page

If you make changes on parent master page that will update and object on child master page. For example, if you change the color of the shape on parent master page that will update color on child master page but will keep overrides like scaling down.
After changing color on parent master page

Break link and clear inherits from parent master page

In case you want to clear inherited objects from parent master page plus to prevent any feature update do the following:

  • Right click on the name of the child master page in Pages panel (or right click on child master spread) and choose: Master Options for "Child master page".
  • Master option for child master page
  • In Master Options dialog choose: None from: Based on Master drop-down list.
  • Choose None for children master page options

Lastly, delete objects inherited from parent master page.

Product used in this tutorial:
Adobe InDesign CC 2017

Master pages 


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