Illustrator How-To: Quick Tips for Great Results

Hanging Indents
Q. In Quark, when creating bulleted lists, there’s a way to align the text so that when the text returns, it doesn’t align under the bullet. You place the cursor between the bullet and the first letter of the word following the bullet and hit the Command or Control keys and the backsplash. Is there a similar command in Illustrator? The only way I know to do this in Illustrator is to use the spacebar, which may not give the proper alignment under the first letter of the first line following the bullet point.

A. Yes, in both Quark and InDesign, the keyboard command for the feature called “Indent to Here” is Command-Backslash. It’s a quick way to create a hanging indent, used most often in bulleted lists, numbered lists, and the like. And as you mentioned, using spaces to align text is no good. That’s because spaces are relative units and change based on font and point size.

Since Illustrator doesn’t have an Indent to Here feature, we have to do things “the good, old-fashioned way.” (Back in my day, we designed logos with rubdown transfer letters… and we liked it.) In the following example, I’ll use tabs and indents to Get It Done.

Step 1: It’s easiest to use Area text instead of Point text for these kinds of things. Use your Type tool to create an Area text object.

Step 2: Format your text correctly. To use this method, enter your text in the following way: {Bullet character} {tab character} {text}.

Step 3: Choose Window > Type > Tabs and set a left tab at .25 inches*

Step 4: Choose Window > Type > Paragraph and set your Left Indent to .25 in (same as 18 pt), and then set your First Line Indent to -.25 in (same as -18 pt). Yes, that last value is negative (Figure 1).

Figure 1.

Note that I used a measurement of .25″ for the text in my example, which may not work for your chosen point size and typeface.

Placing Multiple Files
Q. Is it possible to place multiple files into Illustrator simultaneously? I am batch-generating many .eps files and I would like to place them all into a single Illustrator file for manipulation.

A. While Illustrator lacks InDesign CS3’s multi-place feature, there is a way to place multiple files at once into an existing Illustrator document.

From Adobe Bridge, the Finder on Mac OS, or from any Windows Explorer window, drag a file right onto your Illustrator artboard. You can also use this method to select multiple files and place them all at once. Using this method, Illustrator place-links the files. To place-embed images while dragging them into your document, hold the Shift key while dragging the images.

When dragging images from Bridge, an icon (Figure 2) indicates a preview showing all of the images you’re about to place.

Figure 2.

Custom Views
Q. I create maps in illustrator. For my work, the layer palette is terrific; however, I often need to export 10 to 20 different versions of the artwork from one file. Each time, I have to manually turn the relevant layer visibility on and off, which is time-consuming and prone to error. Is there a way to save groups or sets of layer visibility settings?

A. You can do this quite easily using a feature that’s been around since Illustrator 3.2. It’s called Custom Views, and here’s how it works:

1. Open your layers palette and show and hide layers as you like.

2. Change your zoom level to your desired view on your screen (custom views memorize zoom level and window position).

3. Choose View > New View. Give the view a name and click OK.

4. Repeat steps 1-3 to add more custom views.

Now you can simply choose View > [YourViewName] and you’re done.

Illustrator saves custom views within each file, so you can create as many views as you like for each file, and they’ll be there for you.


Posted on: June 6, 2007

3 Comments on Illustrator How-To: Quick Tips for Great Results

  1. I want to indent first 3 lines only, how do I do this?

  2. Thanks for the indenting tip- awesome!

  3. Thanks for the indenting tip- awesome!

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