Custom Pages

Monday, April 6, 2015

8) Using Guides

Today's post will be about using Guides in Inkscape. I like to use guides to create page margins, align text, draw straight lines, or to pinpoint a new center of rotation. If you use the Guide icons on the right side of your screen, you can also set snapping points for paths, nodes, centers, rectangle corners and the like. Guide lines are invisible on your printed or PDF document, so don't worry about them interfering with your final diagram.

To create a new guide, simply drag your cursor from the ruler areas on the left, top, or corner of the screen. This creates vertical, horizontal, or diagonal guide lines, respectively.

Guides have a snapping property, which means that when you drag certain elements (such as text or lines) close to them, the objects will snap to your guide. This can come in handy if you want to align text to a certain part of your document. You will see the words "Text baseline to guide" appear as your text is snapped into place (a bit difficult to see below):

Guides can also be helpful if you want to draw horizontal, vertical, or diagonal lines. Drag a guide out first, then select the Pencil tool, and draw your line directly on top of the guide. You will see the words "Handle to guide" appear as your line is snapped into place.

Double click on your guide to open up a new window where you can change the angle of rotation. This will enable you to draw a straight line at any angle you want. (The current version of Inkscape also allows you to change the color and label of guides, as seen in the image below)

You can also manipulate the angle of rotation by holding the Shift key while moving your guide.

When you are finished with a guide, you can remove it by dragging it off of the screen, or by hovering over it until it turns Red and then pressing the delete button on your keyboard.

Removing Guide Snapping

Sometimes, guide snapping can be annoying. There are situations where you may not want things to snap to a guide. (I encounter this when I use my guides as page margins, or when placing parts of my diagram really close to a guide). In this case, we can temporarily disable guide snapping by using the icons on the right side of the screen:

In particular, the topmost icon will turn snapping on and off. I find myself clicking this button a lot when building diagrams:

Creating Page Margins:

One of my favorite things to do with Guides is to use them to create page margins. To do this, you will first need to set up your desired page properties. Go to File --> Document Properties on the main menu:

Now, go to the Page tab, and set up your page size and default units. I set my page size to US Letter and default units to inches:

After your page properties have been set, drag out four guides (two horizontal and two vertical) to be used as page margins. Double click on each guide to bring up a new window where you can input numbers for your X and Y axes:

My default units are in inches, and I like to create 1 inch page margins. I set the vertical guides to X:1 and X:7.5, and the horizontal guides to Y:1 and Y:10.

In a future post, I will talk about using guides as a way to pinpoint a new center of rotation. This trick is very useful when you want to create pattern repeats without having to manually place them by hand.


  1. Neat ! The secret to your superb layouts & precision in diagramming ;-P

    I am very interested in the rotation guide .... I'm guessing this will keep the trefoil (eg) shape intact, no matter in which direction it is copied, right ? Unlike placing it manually, where there is skewing which then needs to be corrected manually ....

    1. Yes, it's a very useful feature, especially when combined with drawing on top of a photo of the finished tatted piece. The intersection of the horizontal and vertical guides serves as a pinpoint to rotate entire sections of diagrams with ease. The computer will do all the work for you, minus that first repeat which you draw yourself.

      I typically use it in conjunction with layers and an imported photo, so I won't get to writing about it until those tutorial parts are up. Though if you want to know more beforehand, just send me a message.

    2. That is so very nice of you, Robin :-)
      But take your time...after diagramming the IRs a few weeks back, as I told you, I haven't had time myself ....working with the Wiosna doily. And I can start with diagrams of the many freeform patterns I have, or do it manually.
      See how lazy I am -- I'd much rather wait for Your tuts than explore myself ;-P

      Anyway, let the mood guide you ... enjoy whatever you do without any pressure :-D

  2. Another great tutorial :). Can't wait to continue with your tutorials :). My kids are on school holidays so I must entertain them first :).

    1. That will give me some time to catch up on writing posts :)

      I tend to cycle between different tatting projects, so I'm trying to get a few Inkscape posts done before my mood changes. When I inevitably get distracted by something else, it could be several months before I get back into Inkscape mode again!

    2. My kids are on 2 weeks school holidays but please take your time with them :). I am also alternating my craft time between tatting, playing with Inkscape, knitting and some studies :).

  3. Another great tutorial! I really should get back to working with this program.

  4. Just noticed your new header for your blog! It is awesome :). Love it :).

    1. Yes, it is Adorable ! Made with Inkscape ?
      More inspiration for you, Jenn, when sketching / drawing :-)

    2. Thanks! Yes, it is made with Inkscape. As you can see, it didn't take me long to get distracted away from writing posts :)

      I'm having entirely too much fun making logos, and I'm thinking customized page buttons are next.

    3. @ muskaan - LOL my problem is that there are too many inspirations everywhere :). I'm not sure where to start :).

      @ Robin - Love your page buttons too and the look of your blog :). Now you have me thinking of what I can do for my blog :).