The Measure Tool is an often overlooked Adobe InDesign feature, which can be really useful for documents where you need to keep a close eye on dimensions. It can save you from making measurement errors that often show up, disastrously, only after you’ve sent something to print (or even worse, once the item has already been printed!).
The tool is particularly useful if you’re creating a single-page document which will need to be divided into sections, such as a book cover or a folding brochure, as it gives you more control over measurements on the page and can help you create even sections.
Let’s explore how to use the Measure Tool and what you can do with it.
1. Activate the Measure Tool and Info Panel
Navigate to the Tools panel. If not open by default go to Window > Tools, or go to Reset Essentials from the Workspace drop-down menu at the top-right of your screen.
You can find the Measure Tool under the drop-down menu on the panel next to the Eyedropper Tool. Or simply hit K on the keyboard to activate the Measure Tool.
You’ll also need to open the Info panel to get the most out of the tool. Go to Window > Info or hit F8 on the keyboard.
2. Measure Up!
You’ll see that a small ruler symbol has now appeared next to your cursor. This shows the tool is ready for use.
In this example, I’ve set up a one-page design for a book cover. It has a back cover, spine and front cover, all on the same page of the document.
This can make it a bit tricky to judge, for example, whether the author title on the front of the cover will appear perfectly centered once printed. This is where the Measure Tool comes in handy.
To accurately measure a straight line, hold Shift while you drag your cursor from the point where you want the measurement to begin to the end point.
You’ll notice that information about the measurement has popped up in the Info panel. You can see the Distance of the line under D1, as well as the Angle of the line (this should say 0 degrees for a straight horizontal line, or 90 / -90 degrees for a straight vertical line).
Here, I dragged to create a measurement line from the right-hand edge of the spine to the edge of the first character of the author name on the front cover.
You can move your measuring line around your document to see if your content is accurately placed on the page.
With the Measure Tool (K) still selected, hover your cursor over the line until a small + icon appears next to the cursor. This means you can click on the line and move it around. If the + sign doesn’t appear, the Measure Tool (K) will create a new line.
As you can see in this example, I moved the measuring line over to the other side of the author name on the front cover, making the line start in line with the last character in the text frame. The line oversteps the trim edge of the document by a few millimeters, so the text frame with the author name needs to be maneuvered a little to the left to make it truly centered on the front of the cover.
You can get on with adjusting your document and using other tools. If you return to the Measure Tool (K), the last measuring line you created will be kept intact, in the same position on the page. Handy!
The Measure Tool is a super useful tool for keeping to hand while you get on with your work. It’s also a great tool for proofing a document, and can be used for a last‑minute check before you export your document and send it to print.
The Measure Tool gives you more control over measuring specific areas of your design, compared to the limited help provided by setting up Columns and Margins, or inserting simple Guides from the Rulers.
Give the Measure Tool a whirl next time you need to make your document millimeter-perfect!