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InDesign layers


Senior Member
Ok. Does anyone use InDesign's layers to put all black text on one layer, and at the top of the pile, as a 'best practice'?

It's something a publisher I freelance for does, but I've never encountered it elsewhere. It's a pain to do and I'm not convinced it has any value (feel free to contradict me here!). Supposedly it helps with various pre-press issues, don't ask me which.

My not-very-exhaustive research points to the layers being intended for use in the same way as Illustrator eg to separate elements to make things easier if it's useful, not as a pre-press thing.

Any opinions?


personally I only use layers if something needs to be at underneath everything else and not effected on a select all sort of thing (something that stays locked in its place) but even then the same effect can be done by send to back and lock in place :)

not a good way of working in my opinion, but thats just me :)
I rarely use layers (I use InDesign pretty much every day).

Much like Chris said. I use them when I have an element that stays in the background and doesn't need moving, or needs to stay locked in absolutely the right position. Just to avoid any problems of me or someone else accidentally unlocking it.

Don't know what pre-press problems they're talking about, unless it's a black & white image and they've made everything in paper and registration (at which point id whines about the page being blank), even then ... I don't think layers counter-act that issue. Never had any problems PDFing or sending my non-layered files to the RIP :|

But, everyone has their own way of working I guess ><


I reckon its from back in the Pagemaker days.. which was all about layers (as it was the only way to control which element was on top.. so to speak :))


Senior Member
Those are the answers I was looking for. I'm going to get that publishing company's reason for doing it again, and if it's worth reading I'll post it. Thanks guys!
chrismitchell said:
I reckon its from back in the Pagemaker days.. which was all about layers (as it was the only way to control which element was on top.. so to speak :))
Ahh that would explain it, one of the older guys I've been helping to learn InDesign was quite happy when I showed him the layers palette lol


yeah that and old versions of Quark used to use them too.. strange little crossover that was going on at that time if I remember correctly :)
That must be proper old then, my 'ol faithful copy of Quark 4 doesn't use them :D

On a side note. Quark are offering upgrades from Q 3,4 & 5 to Q8 for £270 until err next week (30/09), if anyone's so inclined
Hi Lula

I use indesign layers all the time, maybe just a habit now, but hey!

The prepress reason is. if you use any kind of transparency in your document, like overlay colours or blend modes, try to keep that on the bottom most layers, keep all your clean text right at the top, this will reduce any smaller text being rendered as an image when 'transparency flattener' processes the document.

the other reason I use layers is when I have a plate change, or a different language, this enables me to have one document that is standard for all the graphic and image areas (only changing elements once) and the different type on it's own layer to turn on/off when I do final pdf files.

hope that helps!


Junior Member
At the publishing company I work for we use seperate layers for text and images. We had a few incidents when some pages didn't print correctly and was solved by using layers. It was before my time so don't know the exact details. I would say it's best to do it as standard practice as it only takes 5 minutes to seperate the elements onto different layers before you output for print.