Grids, Guides, and Alignment

Grids, guides, and alignment tools really help when creating pages. These tools help you line up elements and space them evenly. In the long run, they will save you a lot of time over trying to line things up by eye.

This demonstration uses Photoshop CS4. The commands are similar in other versions of CS and in Elements.


Grids show up as lines or dots over the top of the project you are working on. They are helpful for finding the middle of the page and also for spacing items out evenly.

1. Select View in the top toolbar.

2. Select Show from the menu.

3. Select Grid.

Now you can see the grid on top of your project. In this example, the grid was used to line up the bracketed shape to the middle of the page.

The thing about grids is you need to be able to change the size of the spaces in the grid to fit your page.  To do this:

1. Go to Edit on the toolbar.

2. Select Preferences.

3. Select Guides & Grids (the name varies a little between version of PS and PSE).

The dialog box will look like this:

From here you can change the color of the gridlines or change the style to dashed lines or dots.  The main gridlines on the screenshot are every 1 inch with 4 subdivisions of lighter lines per grid.  You can set your grid to any size you need depending on your project. Just play around with it until it looks right!

You can also set Photoshop to snap design elements to the gridlines.

1. Select View from the menu bar.

2. Select Snap.

As you drag your element across the page, the element will jump to align itself to the grid.


Using Guides, you can create lines on your page that allow you to line up elements and parts easily.

Creating guides is easy!

1. Turn on the rulers, choose View > Rulers.

2. Select View from the toolbar.

3. Select New Guide.

4. In the dialog box, select whether you want the guide to be vertical or horizontal. Also, select the approximate position by looking at the ruler. Don’t worry it’s easy to move the guide after you set it up! Click OK.

To move a guide:

1. Select the move tool, or hold down Ctrl (Windows) or Command (Mac OS) to activate the move tool.

2. Position the pointer over the guide (the pointer turns into a double-headed arrow).

3. Drag the guide to move it.

Here are some other guide tips:

1. To lock all guides:  Choose View > Lock Guides.

2. To remove a single guide, drag the guide outside the image window. To remove all guides, choose View > Clear Guides.

3. To turn snapping to guides on or off: Choose View > Snap To > Guides.

4. To change the guide from horizontal to vertical, or vice versa, hold down Alt (Windows) or Option (Mac OS) as you click or drag the guide.

You can change the color of the guide lines and you can also change the style from solid to dashed lines.

1. Go to Edit on the toolbar.

2. Select Preferences.

3. Select Guides & Grids (the name varies a little between version of PS and PSE).

The dialog box will look like this:

Now select the options from the drop down menus under Guides and Click OK.


Smart Guides are a very handy tool for lining up objects on a page layout in Photoshop. They enable you to quickly and easily see if your objects are lined up without having to use rulers, grids, or guides.

Turning on Smart Guides:

1. Select View from the toolbar.

2. Select Show from the menu.

3. Click on Smart Guides.

Now when you drag items around on your page, you will see pink lines that indicate that items are lining up or are centered. Like this:


This is really simple tool in Photoshop and is really helpful especially with titles or aligning the edges of elements, photos, or papers.

To align layers:

1. Select the Move tool from the Toolbar (or press v on your keyboard).

2. Select the layers in the Layers palette that need to be aligned.

3. Click on the appropriate icon on the top toolbar. You can align top and bottom edges, right and left edges, and even do some vertical and horizontal spacing. (In PSE, there is a dropdown called Align on the top toolbar.)

Now jump in and practice with a few of these tools. They are sure to make your scrapping time easier!

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