Design and layout – using margins and guides in your publications

Much, maybe most, of what we do in Publisher is designing and laying out our publications. Aligning text boxes, pictures, borders, and clip art to make a pleasing and compelling presentation. The tools for laying out your publication are margins, guides, and align. In another post I’ll talk about alignment tips. Today I’m going to talk about margins and guides in Publisher 2003, 2007, and 2010.   


First margins; there are two kinds of margins, page margins are the distance from the edge of a page to objects on the page, while text box margins are the distance from the edge of a text box to the text in the box.

Page margins

Desktop printers normally have a nonprintable region around the edge of the paper that is between 0.17 and 0.5 inches wide. Nothing within that region will print. If you want to set the page margins for your publication to match the minimum margin that your printer will use, first determine the size of your printer’s nonprintable region. In Publisher 2003 and 2007 you can use WordPad:

  1. On the Windows taskbar, click the Start button, point to All Programs (Programs in Windows 2000), then to Accessories, and then click WordPad.
  2. On the File menu, click Page Setup.
  3. Type 0 for the Left, Right, Top, and Bottom margin boxes. The margin values will then be reset automatically to the minimum margin that is supported by the printer.
  4. Note the minimum margin values. You will need to use these margin values when you set the page margins in your Microsoft Publisher publication.

In Publisher 2010 you can just hover your mouse pointer over the little information icon for your printer:

  1. Click the File tab to open the Backstage View.
  2. Click the Print tab.
  3. Hover over the Printer Status icon as shown.
    Printer status in Publisher 2010


In Publisher 2003 and 2007, you set the page margins by hand:

 Margin guides in Publisher 2003 and 2007

While in Publisher 2010, you can choose from four preset page margins or set your margins by hand by selecting Custom Margins:

 Margin guides in Publisher 2010

For more information on page margins, check out these Help topics:

Publisher 2003 and 2007: Set margins for pages or text boxes in Publisher

Publisher 2010: Page Margins

Text box margins

These margins set the distance between the edge of the text box and the text. In Publisher 2003, 2007, and 2010, the easiest way to set text box margins is:

  • 1. Right-click the text box and select Format Text Box.
  • 2. Click the Text Box tab.
  • 3. In the Text Box Margins group, set the margins you want.
    Text box margins in Publisher

For more information on text box margins: Change the margins around text in a text box or a shape

Layout guides

Layout guides help you align objects, such as pictures, text boxes, and tables. Layout guides give you visible guidance for aligning objects on the page. Layout guides include margin, column, row, and baseline guides.

 Layout guide types in Publisher

•1.        Margin guides

•2.        Column guides

•3.        Row guides

•4.        Baseline guides

•5.        Ruler guides

For more information on layout guides:

Publisher 2007: Structure the page with layout guides

Publisher 2010: Structure the page with layout guides

Margin guides

Margin guides are the visual guide to show you where your page margins lie on the page. You set margin guides by setting the page margins. You enable the margin guides on the View menu in Publisher 2003 and 2007, and on the View tab in Publisher 2010.

Publisher 2007:

 Showing guides in Publisher 2003 and 2007

Publisher 2010:

 Showing guides in Publisher 2010 

Column and row guides

Column and row guides help you keep your page aligned.

 Setting column and row guides in Publisher

The result looks like this:

 Column and row guides in Publisher

Baseline guides

Baseline guides look just like the old ruled notebook paper. You enable the baseline guides on the View menu in Publisher 2003 and 2007, and on the View tab in Publisher 2010.

Publisher 2003 and 2007:

 Showing baseline guides in Publisher 2003 and 2007

Publisher 2010:

 Showing baseline guides in Publisher 2010

Ruler guides

You set ruler guides aligned to horizontal or vertical ruler settings.

Other information

Publisher 2007 and 2003:

Publisher 2010:

— Bob deLaubenfels