Adobe InDesign - Transforming Objects

This guide will show you some of the different ways to transform objects and different situations they can be used in.

Display the Transform panel

Duplicating objects

There are a lot of ways to duplicate text frames, graphic frames and other items in InDesign. Here are just a few. 

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  1. Select the Object and choose Edit>Copy (Ctrl+C on Windows or Cmd+C on Mac)
    1. Then Edit > Paste (Ctrl+V on Windows or Cmd +V on Mac)
    2. Edit menu and choose Paste in Place
      • Paste in place tells InDesign to remember just where it was when the object was copied, and it puts it in exactly the same location.
  2. Hold down the Option or the Alt key and drag an object.
    1. Option+Shift+drag on Mac or Alt+Shift+drag on Windows.
    2. This duplicates it and keeps it in perfect vertical or horizontal alignment with the original.
  3. Go to the Edit menu and choose Duplicate.
    • Not only will that make a duplicate of that object, but it did it with exactly the same offsets as the last duplication performed.
  4. Go to the Edit menu and choose Step and Repeat.
      • Step and repeat is a great way to make a lot of duplicates at the same time.
    1. Specify how far down each copy should be and how many copies.
    2. Click OK.

Rotating Objects

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  1. Select the object to rotate
  2. Go up to the Control panel and click on one of the two rotation buttons.
  3. One rotates clockwise, the other counter-clockwise. Both in 90 degree increments.
  4. To rotate it in more fine increments change the field to the left of the buttons.
  5. That's the rotate field. There is a pop-up menu where the presets are.

To Rotate an object using the Rotate tool

  1. Select an object to rotate.
  2. Select the Rotate tool  .
  3. Position the tool away from the reference point, and drag around it. To constrain the tool to multiples of 45°, hold down Shift. For finer control, drag farther from the object’s reference point.

The Reference Point

All transformations originate from a fixed point on or near the object, called the reference point. An icon  is displayed at the reference point when a transformation tool, such as the Scale tool or rotate tool, is active.

Scaling Objects

There are a number of ways to scale graphics, text, and other page items in InDesign.

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Scale an object using the Scale tool

  1. Select an object to scale. To scale both the frame and its content, use the Selection tool to select the frame. To scale the content without scaling its frame, click the Content Grabber to direct-select the object. To scale a frame without scaling the content, direct-select the frame, and select all the anchor points.
  2. Select the Scale tool  .
  3. Position the Scale tool away from the reference point and drag. To scale the x or y axis only, start dragging the Scale tool along one axis only. To scale proportionally, hold down Shift as you drag the Scale tool. For finer control, start dragging farther from the object’s reference point.

Scale an object using the Transform panel

To maintain the original proportions of the object when using the Transform panel, make sure the Constrain Proportions icon  is selected.

  1. Select an object to scale. To scale both the frame and its content, use the Selection tool to select the frame. To scale the content without scaling its frame, direct-select the object. To scale a frame without scaling the content, direct-select the frame, and select all the anchor points.
  2. In the Transform or Control panel, do one of the following:

Scaling vs. resizing objects

Resizing and scaling are different actions in InDesign. Resizing is simply changing the Width and Height values of an object. Scaling involves using a percentage value related to the original scale (100%) of the frame.

The difference between resizing and scaling isn’t always apparent. A good way to see the difference is to resize and scale a text frame that has a stroke applied to it.

The Free Transform tool

The free transform tool works the same way it does in Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator, by providing a way to perform any transformation with just one tool.

You can use keyboard shortcuts to instantly switch to the Free Transform tool (press E) or select it in the tools panel.

  1. Using the appropriate selection tool, select the object or objects to transform.
  2. Select the Free Transform tool  .

Using the Selection Tool to Transform:

  1. This tool works the same way as the free transform tool, except remember to hold down one modifier key. The Cmd key on the Mac or the Ctrl key on Windows.
  2. That key tells the Selection tool to scale both the frame and what's inside the frame.
  3. Just like the Free Transform Tool: Cmd+Shift or Ctrl+Shift, that scales it proportionally.

If you need further assistance please contact the Information Technology Help Desk at 920-424-3020 or helpdesk@uwosh.edu