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Adobe InDesign - Creating and Controlling Layers

This document will give you instructions on how to create and edit layers.

Think of layers as transparent sheets stacked on top of each other. If a layer doesn’t have objects on it, you can see through it to any objects on layers behind it. Each document includes at least one named layer. Using multiple layers allows you to create and edit specific areas or kinds of content in the document without affecting other areas.


To Create a New Layer

  1. Go to the Layers panel and choose New Layer. If the layers panel is not showing choose Window > Layers.
    1. Give the layer a name.
    2. Choose OK
  2. Click the New Layer icon located at the bottom of the Layers panel.
    1. This will create a new layer above the selected layer. To create a new layer below the selected layer, hold down Ctrl (Windows) or Command (Mac OS) and click the New Layer button.
    2. This will create a generic name for the layer, click on the name to relabel the new layer.

Each document layer has a disclosure triangle that can be expanded to reveal the objects and their stacking order on that layer for the active spread. Groups, buttons, and multi-state objects also have disclosure triangles that can be expanded to display their contained objects. You can re-order these objects, lock and unlock them, and add or remove them from groups.

To Change the Order of Layers

Change the stacking order of layers in the document by rearranging the layers on the Layers panel.

  • In the Layers panel, drag a layer up or down in the list. 

To Lock or Unlock Layers

Locking is useful for preventing accidental changes to a layer. A locked layer displays a crossed-out pencil icon in the Layers panel. Objects on locked layers cannot be selected or edited directly.

Do any of the following:

  1. To lock or unlock one layer at a time, in the Layers panel, click a square in the second column from the left to show (lock) or hide (unlock) the layer.
  2. To lock all layers except the target layer, choose Lock Others in the Layers panel menu. Or, Alt-click (Windows) or Option-click (Mac OS) the the square left of the layer you want to remain unlocked.
  3. To unlock all layers, choose Unlock All Layers in the Layers panel menu.

To Move an Object to Another Layer


  1. Click on the desired object, this will highlight it.
  2. Go back over to the Layers panel and there will be a colored box on the right side of the panel.
  3. Click and drag the colored box into any other layer.
    • Note: the color of the box will change, it will take on the color of the layer it is moved to.

To Duplicate a Layer

Duplicating a layer will copy of the layer’s contents and settings. The duplicate layer then appears above the original layer in the Layers panel.

  1. In the Layers panel, do one of the following:
  2. Select the layer name and choose Duplicate Layer [layer name] in the Layers panel menu.
    • Click and drag a layer name and drop it on the New Layer button.

To Delete Layers

Do any of the following:

  1. Drag a layer from the Layers panel to the Delete icon or choose Delete Layer [layer name] from the Layers panel menu.
  2. To delete multiple layers, hold Ctrl (Windows) or Command (Mac OS) while clicking the layers to select them. Then drag the layers from the Layers panel to the Delete icon or choose Delete Layers from the Layers panel menu.
  3. To delete an object on a layer, select the object in the Layers panel, and then click the Delete icon.

If you need further assistance please contact the Information Technology Help Desk at 920-424-3020 or

Keywords:creating, controlling, basics, order,move, object, layers, delete   Doc ID:64354
Owner:Aarron V.Group:UW Oshkosh
Created:2016-06-22 10:45 CSTUpdated:2016-12-20 12:18 CST
Sites:UW Oshkosh
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