About halfway across InDesign’s Control panel is a big P surrounded by brackets. When a you select an object that has been rotated, flipped or skewed, that P changes. It rotates at an angle matching the object. If the object has been flipped, it turns to an outline. It also leans to match an object that has been skewed.

What I don’t know is why Adobe picked a P. Got a guess? Leave a comment:

Source: This fun tidbit comes from the September 2008 issue of Design Tools Monthly. Creativetechs clients receive a complimentary subscription to Design Tools Monthly in every monthly care package. (This tip dedicated to Marie, who lobbied for more animated gifs in the weekly email. You got it Marie!)


joecab December 7, 2008

Well, you need an asymmetrical letter for there to be no question that it’s being changed. After you drop those, and the borderline ones like N, Z and L, that leaves F, G, J, P, Q, and R. Out of those P looks like a solid choice: it’s distinctive, and has a wide part and a thin part for contrast.

Steven Jarvis December 7, 2008

I’m going to say it’s leftover from Aldus Pagemaker, which became Adobe Pagemaker which then got beat out by InDesign.

Craig Swanson December 7, 2008

InDesign-Big-P-Clear.gifjoecab – I suspect you are right. Once you decide to use a letter to represent a rotating, flipping object, your choices are limited. Although I’m hoping for something more satifying for little mystery.

One detail I discovered while I was doing some Googling for “The P” in InDesign. If you select a transformed object, you can right-click, or control-click on that P to clear all the transformations. Nice detail to add to this tip.

Craig Swanson December 7, 2008

Steven – I had thought about the PageMaker angle. Did PageMaker ever use a capital-P as an element in it’s interface? I lived in that program for almost two decades, and at the moment, I can hardly remember the interface at all.

jason hoppe December 8, 2008

I had several words that I had applied to the P – Page, Properties, Position. And since the P also comes up in the Print dialog box… these all seem to apply.

Rich Sommerfield December 8, 2008

P for “position”.
1. condition with reference to place; location; situation.

Amy Tingle December 8, 2008

Maybe the P could stand for perspective. Since the perspective is altered as you rotate the object…is anyone buying this logic?

John Lewis December 8, 2008

Are you suggesting Adobe have taken the P out of Pagemaker? haha.

I reckon you could be right there. Originally though, thinking about it in laymans terms rather than historical relevance, I came to the immediate conclusion the ‘P’ derived from ‘Position’ as ‘T’ is always used for text.

I doubt its that simple though. Nothing ever is!

Mike December 8, 2008

My mind immediately went to “proxy.” After all, that’s what the indicator in the tool bar which controls what part of an object you are affecting. This is just another kind of proxy, with a different use.

Also, Aldus PageMaker 5 used a VERY Prominent “P” in the application’s splash screen. You can see the image here:

My apologies if it is not cool to post a link.

Kelly December 8, 2008

I immediately thought P for Picture or Photo, but what “John Lewis” says sounds good too (Position). I too thought T is for Text. Seems obvious to use P for Picture.

sg December 8, 2008

I’d vote for “position” but maybe they borrowed it from the P in the box on the lower-left side of the Print > Setup dialog box that shows how the layout will fit inside the selected page-size and orientation…

Betsy December 8, 2008

P is for play, of course!

tw December 8, 2008

“P” for Pitch: 2. to put, set, or plant in a fixed or definite place or position. —from… Is there a prize? lol.

monica December 8, 2008

I agree w/sg, It looks like when you go to print something from InDesign, in the preview the “P”age. “P” is either Horizontal or Vertical, if you don’t get the puppy to tell you the orientation, you get the “P” for orientation. I really never noticed it before – i think it’ll come in handy. thanks!

Steve December 8, 2008

I tell my students that the P was an R (for the Rs in “Right Reading”) but part of the R fell off. Why does no one believe me?

Brandon December 8, 2008

“P” is for PICTURE silly people!

sharon backurz December 8, 2008

P for Position

Heinz December 8, 2008

Agree with Brandon, P ist for picture. When P is for Position, where is the S for Scale and the T for Transform?

joecab December 9, 2008

I still say you’re all getting carried away with this. 😉 But it’s still interesting to see all the theories.

Brandon December 10, 2008

This is outside of the topic thread but I thought I would take a chance. I am looking for printed publications which have art/messages hidden with over laying colors/patterns. The reader has to don filtered glasses to see the hidden images/messages. Does anyone know of any such books. Been looking and searching on the net but just not finding those kind of publications. Thanks!

John Lewis December 17, 2008

You know, upon reflection, and by the way we all chipped in, I’d say the P from the toolbar stands for pedantic, ha ha!!

Merry xmas


ari salomon December 19, 2008

the problem with “P” is that if it’s rotated 180 degrees then it’ll look like a “d”.

Jim December 19, 2008

P is for “pathetic” – as in, “the fact that they didn’t come up with something more sensible is pathetic.” OK, maybe it is “position.”

vgodard December 22, 2008

The first thing that come to my mind was simply : “pan” or “panning”…
To me, it make sense !

Shirley Hershey December 26, 2008

“P” is for pivot which is defined by Merriam’s dictionary as “the central point, pin, or shaft on which a mechanism turns or oscillates.”

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