Parent pages in InDesign document serve as the base pages for document pages. Whenever you create a new document in InDesign, by default InDesign creates a couple of those pages – [None] and A-Parent or A-Master depending on the version of InDesign. These are the default pages and let’s know about each of them.

What is Parent Page?

Parent page, previously known as Master page, is what the literal meaning of ‘parent’ refers to. Just like children inherit some of their parent’s characteristics, document pages inherit features of those parent pages in InDesign. The document pages are the main pages in documents and are displayed in the lower panel of Pages panel. These parents often include footers, headers, backgrounds, page numbers, logos, and items that should be repeated on every document page. When you apply those parents to document pages, then only the content of parent pages will display on document pages. When you update items on those parents, they will be automatically updated on document pages.

The parents serve as the background layers for document pages. If you are from a programming background, you can consider parents as similar concepts to the concept of classes in object-oriented programming (OPP) language. The class can inherit properties of parent classes in OPP.

Parent pages can be inherited from other parents, and you can create multiple parents in a single document. The parents can have multiple layers, and the parent items cannot be selected or altered in document pages unless overridden. The proper use of parents helps to create consistent page layout with greater efficiency.

3 Methods of Creating Parent Pages

Specifically, there are 3 methods for creating parent pages in InDesign. The methods are parent from scratch, parent from document page spread, and parent from another parent or spread.

1. Parent Page from Scratch

Follow these steps to create parent page from scratch:

  1. Go to Window > Pages
  2. Click on New Parent in the Pages panel menu
  3. Choose desired option in the New Parent panel

Among the options, Prefix is the maximum four-character prefix for parent Name option. Based on Parent option is for inheriting from existing parent. In addition, Number of Pages option is for parent spreads, which are the rows of parent pages. Spread contains the number of pages horizontally stacked.

2. Parent Page from Document Page Spread

As we know the spread is the row of pages in Pages panel. To create a parent page from document spread you need to select one particular document spread and drag that spread to parent page panel. When you select entire document spreads and drag those spreads into parent page panel, parents equal to the number of document spreads are created. Note that parent pages and document pages inherit from each other.

Alternative way:

  1. Select the desired spread
  2. Go to the Pages panel menu
  3. Select the Parent Pages option
  4. Choose Save as Parent

This will create an additional parent page on parent page panel.

3. Parent Page from another Parent Page or Spread

You can create parent from another parent, called parent parent. In such cases, any updates or alterations of parent parent items are automatically applied to child parent. Whenever it comes to customizing child parents, you can override parent parent items on child parents just like you can override parent items on document pages.

Follow these steps to create parent from another parent or spread:

  1. Select a parent spread in parent panel
  2. Choose Parent Options for [parent spread name] in Pages panel menu
  3. Select Based on Parent option in Parent Options dialog box
  4. Click ok

The Based on Parent value is the name of spread from which you want items to be inherited.

Alternatively, you can apply one parent as base to another parent by selecting one parent’s spread name and dragging it to another parent’s spread name.

Whenever you edit parent items, they are automatically changed on all pages applying that parent. To edit the parent, double-click on the parent you want to edit or select the parent spread name from the text box list at the bottom of document window.

How to Apply Parent Page to Document Pages?

Creating parents just does not work at all. The parents should be applied on pages to display the content of these parent pages. You can apply parents in the following ways:

Apply Parent on Single Document Page

In the Page panel, drag the parent page icon over document page. While doing so, release the mouse when a black rectangular frame surrounds the document page.

Apply Parent on Single Document Spread

Drag parent icon to the corner of spread and release mouse when black rectangular frames surround entire document pages in a spread.

Apply Parent on Multiple Document Pages

  1. Select the document pages to apply a parent
  2. Press window’s Alt key and click on the desired parent icon to apply parent

Alternatively, select the document pages to apply parent.

  1. Go to Pages panel menu > Apply Parent to Pages
  2. On Apply Parent option, select the desired parent name
  3. On To Pages option, conform the page range to apply parent. You can also place multiple page ranges separated with comma as the value.

How to Unassign Parent in Document Pages?

Whenever you want to unassign parent items to document pages, you just need to drag the [None] parent page icon to desired document page. Doing so will remove all the parent items on document page. It is a reverse process of applying a parent on document page.

How to Override Parent Items on Document Pages?

Parent items are the objects contained in parent pages. By default, parent items are not selectable in document pages. When you want a specific document page slightly different from a parent, you can override a particular parent item in document pages, while keeping all other parent items automatically updated on document pages.

When a parent item is overridden, it creates a local copy of that parent item on document page while maintaining its association with the parent page. You have to enable parent item to be overridden in the document pages.

Enable Parent Items for Overridden

Allow parent items to be overridden on document pages by taking the following steps:

  1. Go to the parent page and select an item or the items to be overridden
  2. Go to the Pages panel menu
  3. Select Parent Pages option
  4. Check Allow Parent Item Overrides On Selection

Unchecking the Allow Parent Item Overrides On Selection prevents parent items from being overridden in the document pages. Note that parent item that now allows to override has no frame edge.

Override Parent Items on Document Page or Spread

  • To override the parent items in a document page, press ctrl+shift+click item or drag to select multiple items to modify.
  • To override parent items on document pages or a specific spread, select that page or spread > go to Pages panel menu > Override All Parent Page Items.
  • Click the item to customize.

In the document pages, parent items are shown in the dotted bounding box only if parent items are enabled for override. The dotted bounding box around parent items will change to solid line once the parent items are overridden to indicate that the local copy of parent items is created on document pages.

What is Detaching Parent Item? How to Detach Parent Item?

As we know overriding creates a local copy of parent item but it maintains the association with parent page. Unlike overriding, detaching a parent item breaks that association created by overriding the parent items on document pages. This prevents automatic update of parent items on document pages even when you reapply parent items. That means you cannot restore detached parent items of document pages. However, you can delete those detached objects on document pages and reapply parent items to make them update with parent items.

How to Detach Parent Items on Document Pages?

The objects or parent items on document pages should first be overridden to detach them. That means you can only detach the overridden objects on document pages. Follow these steps to detach objects in document page or spreads:

  1. To remove detached objects from a document page, select those objects > Navigate to Pages panel menu > Parent Pages >Detach Selection From Parent
  2. To remove detached objects from spreads, select the targeted spreads > Navigate to Pages panel menu > Parent Pages > Detach All Objects From Parent

How to Restore the Overridden Parent Items in Document Pages?

When you restore, attributes of parent items in document pages will revert to the state of original parent items. In this situation, the local copy of parent items is removed from document pages, and updates on parent items reapply automatically to document pages. Following are the steps to restore the overridden parent items from a document page or spreads:

To Remove Parent Overrides from Objects in a Document Page

  1. Select one or more objects on the document page
  2. Go to Pages panel menu > Parent Pages
  3. Choose Remove Selected Local Overrides option

To Remove Parent Overrides from Objects in Spreads

  1. Select one or more spreads, but not across an entire document
  2. Go to Edit>Deselect All to avoid any object selection
  3. Navigate to Pages panel menu > Parent Pages
  4. Choose Remove All Local Overrides

Note that if you have detached objects on document pages, restoration of overrides does not work. In such a case, you need to delete those detached objects from the document pages.

How to Use Parent in Documents One Another?

You can use parent on one document to another as a starting point for designing new parent page. This will help you pick the existing design from another document which will reduce your extra work on designing new layout. For this, you can copy or move parent from one document to another if both the destination and source documents are opened. Moreover, you can import parent from an InDesign document file (not opened) to opened or active document.

Using Parent in Active or Opened Documents One Another

Given that documents are active, you can use parent of another document in either of the following two ways:

  1. First way, go to Window>Arrange>Tile All Vertically, which will make all active document windows visible at once. Now, go to the source document’s Pages panel, then click and drag a spread to destination document’s window. If you want to make only one document window visible just like before you started, go to Window>Arrange>Consolidate All Windows.
  2. Second way, select the parent on source document. Go to Layout > Pages >Move Parent or Pages panel menu > Move Parent. Choose the destination document in Move to; if you prefer to delete source parent, then check Delete Pages After Moving; finally, click ok to finish the process.

Using Parent in Opened Document from Non-active Document

You can import the parent contained in InDesign document in active or opened document with the following steps:

  1. Go to Pages panel menu
  2. Navigate to Parent Pages
  3. Choose Load Parent Pages
  4. Select the source file and open
  5. Choose appropriate option to import parent

You can choose Replace Parent Pages option if you want to replace the parent pages of destination document with the same name as parent pages of source document. Otherwise, choose Rename Parent Pages to change the parent prefix to next available letter in the destination document.

Also note that overridden items, if any, in destination document may convert to detached items thereby creating the two sets of objects in the destination document.

For more information about parent pages in InDesign, you may visit official user guides.

Chapter and page numbers in documents are mostly generated using master or parent pages in InDesign. Read how to add page numbers to documents in InDesign.

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