Using Mastermatic


Mastermatic is an InDesign add-on that lets you link, or associate, paragraph styles (and object styles) to master pages.

Mastermatic is easy enough to use without reading this guide! But if you’re stuck, this guide should help you get the most out of Mastermatic.

What It Does

Mastermatic lets you link, or associate, master pages with one or more InDesign paragraph styles and object styles. On whichever page a particular paragraph style or object style appears, a user-defined master page will be applied to that page.

This makes it easy to:

(A) Apply the correct master to selected pages throughout the document with a single click.

(b) Reapply master pages correctly if text has reflowed (Mastermatic remembers your settings on a per-document basis, so it only has to be set up once per document).

A special feature of Mastermatic is that it can be set to run in the background, so whenever text reflows or the document changes, the appropriate master pages will always be correctly applied to each page.

Mastermatic‘s many options make it possible to apply master pages to an entire book without ever having to open the pages panel!

The Mastermatic Window

Here’s a screenshot of the UI (user interface) that is displayed when Mastermatic is run.

Here’s a quick reference to each of these options:

Top Panel

1. Paragraph Styles tab: Click on this tab to set up paragraph-style–master-page pairs, as well as general options (3–6) that are applicable also when using object-style–master-page pairs.

2. Object Styles tab: Click on this tab to set up object-style–master-page pairs. (In the latest Creative Cloud versions of InDesign, these tabs, when selected (as in the screenshot above), become almost invisible, so you may not realize that they’re even clickable – but they are!)

3. Ignore preliminary pages: This option tells Mastermatic to ignore pages at the start of the document. From the dropdown to the right, select a document page. Mastermatic will ignore all pages from the start of the document until the selected page (inclusive), leaving their currently applied master pages unchanged.

Often, the first few pages of a document such as a book have no particular pattern. It can be easier to manually apply the correct master pages to these preliminary pages than to try to do so automatically by setting up paragraph-master or object-master pairs in Mastermatic. But if this is done manually, whenever Mastermatic is run it would override any such manual work. The “ignore preliminary pages” options tells Mastermatic to ignore the first few pages of any document.

4. Ignore pages at end of document: This option (introduced in version 2.0 of Mastermatic) is the same as (3) above, counting from the end of the document instead of from the beginning. From the dropdown to the right, select the number of pages, from the end of the document, that Mastermatic should ignore.

5. Apply this master to all pages: Select the master page to apply to all other pages in the document. The selected, default, master page will be applied to all pages in the document, except for pages that match any of the settings below, and except for pages that Mastermatic has been told to ignore.

6. Apply this master to blank pages: Mastermatic considers a page as blank if it has no live text (text deriving from an applied master that is not overridden doesn’t count). Select a master page from the dropdown to the right to be applied to all blank pages. (A known issue currently exists with pages containing only the continued part of a multi-page table: Mastermatic wrongly considers these to be blank. If a page contains only the continued part of a footnote, though, Mastermatic correctly identifies this as a non-blank page.)

Middle Panel

The middle panel of the Mastermatic UI (the panel labelled “Paragraph-Master Pairs”) is the heart of Mastermatic. Here you can set up as many paragraph-style–master-page pairs as needed. You can select the same master page multiple times, and you can even select the same paragraph style multiple times (see below for one reason you might want to do this).

7. From the dropdown on the left, select a paragraph style. From the dropdown to its right, select a master page. This links up the selected paragraph style with the selected master page. Throughout the document, wherever text with the selected paragraph style appears, this master page will be applied to that page.

8. “Sticky master” feature: Normally, the default master page is applied to all pages (see (5) above), and the selected master pages will only be applied to pages containing one of the selected paragraph styles. But checking this checkbox makes the previously applied master page, whatever it may be, stick. Mastermatic, as it runs through the document from the first page to the last, will continue to apply the last-used master page instead of the default master page (selected in (5) above) until it reaches a page that requires a different master page based on the user’s settings.

This feature is particularly useful for creating a directory with colored sections, for instance. You could create 3 paragraph styles (“red”, “yellow”, and “green,” for example) and three master pages (“red”, “yellow” and “green” again). Apply the paragraph styles to the chapter title of each section of the directory. In Mastermatic, create the necessary style–master pairs, and mark each of those pairs to be “sticky.” Mastermatic will then apply the “red” master page until it hits the “yellow” paragraph style, at which point it will switch to the “yellow” master page until it hits the green, etc.

9. Plus and minus buttons: Use the + and – buttons to add or remove rows. Each time you click a + button, a new row is inserted at that point with all the options needed to set up a new pair. Click the – button to delete the corresponding row. The only limit to the number of rows is the size of your monitor!

Bottom Section

10. Live Update checkbox: Check this box if you want Mastermatic to continue monitoring and updating the master pages in your document while you work.

There are a few of things to be aware of when using this option:

(a) Mastermatic will update the master pages in your document only when InDesign is idle – i.e., when you have not done anything in InDesign for a few moments. This means that you may need to wait a few seconds until the correct master page is applied after a change has been made to the document – or just carry on working and rely on Mastermatic to update all the master pages as soon as the opportunity arises (when InDesign is idle).

(b) For longer documents, it can take Mastermatic a second or two to update all the master pages, during which time InDesign will seem to pause. If you notice these slight pauses and find them annoying, disable this option.

(c) For reasons beyond our control, it can be difficult to use InDesign’s Find/Change with this option selected. If you find any weirdness occurring while using Find/Change (including the Find or Find All buttons becoming greyed out), disable this option!

11. OK button: Closes this window and applies all master pages according to the settings chosen. Cancel button: Dismisses the window without making any changes, and without storing the settings. About button: Opens a new window which shows the current Mastermatic version, provides an option to add Mastermatic to the optional Id-Extras menu, and includes links to this page, the EULA, and the products page.

Object Styles Tab

Clicking on the “Object Styles” tab (2) allows setting up object-style–master-page pairs:

The options here are identical to the options described above (“Middle Panel”), except that instead of linking up a master page with a paragraph style, you link up a master page with an object style.

What this means is that any page containing an object with one of the selected object styles applied to it will have the corresponding master page applied to it.

Being able to link up object styles and master pages can be very useful in cases where a page contains no text – for instance, a page containing a certain type of graphic item only.

Note that the “Live Update” checkbox here is the same as the one appearing under the “Paragraph Styles” tab. If Live Update is selected, Mastermatic respects all settings under both the Paragraph-Styles and Object-Styles tabs.

Note: All the settings above are stored internally as part of the document, so they only need be set once. They are saved alongside the document, and will be there next time you, or someone else, opens the document.

Tip: If you often create documents with the same paragraph styles and master pages, and want to use the same Mastermatic settings each time, create an InDesign document with the desired styles and masters. Run Mastermatic and set the options as needed. Click OK, and then save the document as an InDesign template. Now, whenever you create a document from that template, the Mastermatic settings will be ready for use!

Note: Someone who does not have Mastermatic installed on their computer will not have any problem opening a document that Mastermatic has been used with. It remains a 100% regular InDesign document.

Advanced: How Mastermatic Resolves Clashes

What happens if Mastermatic is set to apply Master A wherever paragraph style A appears in the document, and Master B for paragraph style B, and both paragraph styles appear on the same page? How does Mastermatic know which master page to apply in such a case?

The principle is simple: Mastermatic works from top to bottom, and from left (“Paragraph Styles” tab) to right (“Object Styles” tab)!

As you become more familiar with Mastermatic, you will appreciate how to leverage this principle to your benefit.

By way of illustration, if, as in the previous example, both style A and style B appear on page 19 of the document, if Mastermatic is set up as follows, the B-Master page will be applied to page 19:

This is because Mastermatic works from top-down, as noted. So, first, the A-Master is applied to page 19, and then, moving down, the B-Master is applied to page 19, and that is the final result.

If, instead, Mastermatic were set up as follows (with the rows transposed), the A-Master would be applied, because it is the lowest row:

This principle applies also to the settings in the top panel. That is, the general blank-page settings, and default-master settings are overridden by the lower paragraph-master pairs.

And, as mentioned, the object-style–master-page pairs are the most powerful since they are applied last. So the last object-master pair (if used) will override all other settings.

In the next section, we will see how this top-down principle can be used to good effect!

Advanced: How to Set a Special Opening Page for a Section Created with the “Sticky Masters” Feature

When describing the “sticky master” feature (see (8) above), we gave the example of a directory or catalogue consisting of three colored sections, where each section uses a different master page.

Often, though, the first page of a section needs a special master page of its own.

Look at the Pages panel in the following document:

There are three sections: Red, Yellow, and Green.

The Red section is pages 1–6. These all have the A-RED master page applied, except for page 1, the first page of the section, which has the D-RED START master page applied to it.

The Yellow section is pages 7–12. These all have the B-YELLOW master page applied, except for page 7, the first page of the yellow section, which has the E-YELLOW START master page applied to it.

The Green section is pages 13–18. These all have the C-GREEN master page applied, except for pager 13, the first page of the green section, which has the F-GREEN START master page applied to it.

Let us assume that the only text in this document appears on the first page of each section – shown as a black rectangle in the screenshot above. The text on the first page of the red section uses a paragraph style called “Red”. The text on the first page of the yellow, “Yellow”, and the text on the green, “Green.”

Can Mastermatic be set up to apply all these master pages in one go, including the special first-of-section master pages, as shown in the screenshot?

Yes! This is how to do it (but note that this will only work with version 2.0 or higher of Mastermatic):

How does this work?

In the previous section, “How Mastermatic Resolves Clashes,” we saw that Mastermatic works its way down the rows of paragraph-master pairs. The top row is applied first, then the one below it, and so on.

In our case, the first row tells Mastermatic to apply the A-RED master page to the page containing the paragraph style “Red” (page 1 in the document). But because the “sticky master” option has been checked, Mastermatic continues to apply A-RED until the next change (which will be on p. 7, when the yellow master is applied).

Mastermatic then moves down to the second row. Here we have again chosen the “Red” paragraph style. But this time, we’ve told Mastermatic to apply the “D-RED START” master page. This clashes with the previous instruction of the first row, but because it is the second row, this setting supersedes the one above it.

What’s important to note, though, is that the “sticky master” option has not been selected in row 2! This means that the master page D-RED START will only be applied to the page that actually contains text with the paragraph style “Red,” i.e., only to page 1.

To summarize: Row 1 tells Mastermatic to apply the A-RED master page to pages 1–6. Row 2 tells Mastermatic to apply the A-RED START master page to page 1.

The next four rows use this same technique to apply the necessary color sections to the subsequent pages, and to apply a special master page to the first page of each section.

This idea can also be used for a regular book. Often, the prelim section of a book uses a different master page than the main section of the book. And often, the first page of the prelims will need its own special master page. The above technique can be used to achieve this.

Questions? Comments?

Please feel free to write your questions or comments on this tutorial, or on Mastermatic in general, below.

Leave a Reply