Guidelines for working with InDesign master pages: pdf
• You can add text and graphic placeholders to masters for a consistent look.
• To create a set of masters that are slight variations on one main design, you can create a main master and base design variations on it.
• Like document pages, masters can contain multiple layers. You can use layers to determine how objects on a master overlap objects on a document page.
• To quickly lay out new documents, you can save a set of masters in a document template, along with paragraph and character styles, color libraries, and other styles and presets.
• If you change column or margin settings on a master, or apply a new master with different column and margin settings, you can force objects on the page to adjust to the new layout automatically.
• You can thread text frames on a master, but only across a single spread. To automatically flow text across multiple spreads, thread text frames on the document pages instead.
• Masters cannot contain sections; however, you can create a unique master for each section in a document. For information about sections, see Defining section numbering.
• If your document contains custom spreads (such as a 3- or 4-page foldout in a magazine), any master you apply should contain the same number of pages.
• You can customize the appearance of a document page by selectively overriding objects from the master page.
• To view master items on a document page, select the page or spread, and then choose View > Show Master Items.
— Adobe InDesign online help
Real world rules:
• Never place body copy on a master, the container can be on the master but you may not get all the text page to page
• Always set up your master first but know those items can change.
• If you accidently start on page one but want the items on the master simply select all, cut, switch to the master page and select paste in place under the edit menu.