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This article is from November 11, 2006, and is no longer current.

Pasting from Illustrator into InDesign


I just got home from the Seattle InDesign Master Class conference. What a great week!

My last session on Wednesday was a class entitled “Illustrator for InDesign Users.” It was fun. I got to show off my favorite Illustrator effects and then show how they could be copied into InDesign.

One weird thing happened, though, that I thought I’d report to you all.

During the class I said that you shouldn’t apply both a fill and a stroke to an object in Illustrator, or it will paste into InDesign as two objects; one for the fill, the other for the stroke.

Scott Citron, who was auditing the class, checked it out and told me that it wasn’t true. He could copy and paste a fill and stroke object without creating two objects.

So what was the problem?

Turns out that an Illustrator object that contains a simple fill and stroke will appear in InDesign as a single object. But if you apply any effect or if you move the position of the fill or stroke in the Appearance palette, you will get two objects.

Obviously I’ve been working with objects that were modified in the Appearance palette and never realized that was the cause of the two objects in InDesign.

Sandee Cohen is a New York City-based instructor and corporate trainer in a wide variety of graphic programs, especially the Adobe products, including InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, and Acrobat. She has been an instructor for New School University, Cooper Union, Pratt, and School of Visual Arts. She is a frequent speaker for various events. She has also been a speaker for Seybold Seminars, Macworld Expo, and PhotoPlus conferences. She is the author of many versions of the Visual Quickstart Guides for InDesign.
  • Sandee, this happens because you have the “Preserve Appearance” option selected in the AICB Preferences setting. If you choose the Preserve Paths option, you’ll get a single path, but it won’t necessarily look exactly the same.

    If you think about it, what’s happening is the exact same thing if you had first selected your path in Illustrator, and chose the Object > Expand Appearance option.

  • vectorbabe says:


    Ordinarily I defer to you for all things Illustrator, but in this case I don’t get the results you’re talking about.

    No matter which subselection for AICS I choose (Preserve Paths or Preserve Appearance and Overprints), I get two paths when pasting from AI into ID as long as I have applied any type of appearance setting.

    I only get one path if my path in AI has no special appearance effects.

    However, I just discovered what looks like a bug in AI.

    If I change the position of the stroke in the appearance palette, the filled circle is displayed in the Appearance palette. This is as I expect. There is a special appearance setting applied to the path.

    But if I then move the stroke so that it is in front of the fill, the circle remains colored. This seems wrong. I have restored the path to its default setting, but it doesn’t behave as if it is.

    What’s even stranger is if

  • vectorbabe says:

    Ignore the half-thought in the above message. It should have been deleted.

  • Mike says:

    Interesting I never new that happened. Lately I been using Corel Draw more then Illustrator I find it easier to use.

  • foxman says:

    Interesting lesson, Illustrator is my favourite vector tool. Thanks.

  • Banner Man says:

    I’m new to using photoshop and illustrator but I’m a bit confused on what Indesign is used for. Can you please elaborate ?

  • @Bannerman: InDesign is a tool for putting all that great artwork you made in Illustrator and Photoshop together on the same page, plus adding text, lines, frames, paths, and so on. For example the pages of most major magazines are now laid out with InDesign.

  • Melissa B says:

    Silly question… I usually select objects from AI to copy and paste into ID, but why can’t I select an object in ID and paste into AI?

  • Uwe Laubender says:

    And why on earth is it not possible to copy pure vector objects with fill/stroke set to “none” from Illustrator to InDesign? Technical reasons? Come on, Adobe!

  • Uwe Laubender says:

    @Melissa: did you recently try that with the CS4 versions? Indeed, I found it is possible with simple objects like boxes, path objects. More complex objects might fail. Did not test that yet. And also one rule is clear: objects with fill/stroke set to “none” will not make it. They simply don’t show up: without error message from Illustrator.

  • Jeremy says:

    @Melissa: I don’t have that problem. I copy and paste from ID to Illustrator quite a lot, because I’m used to scripting in ID, but use Illustrator to make GIFs for web use.

    In my experience, the only drawback is that Illustrator tends to add quite a lot of unnecessary clipping paths, but they’re easy enough to delete in the layers panel, as long as you keep an eye on the document window.

  • Jeremy says:

    Wait… now that I experiment a bit, I think the items have to be grouped in InDesign if they are to successfully paste into Illustrator.

  • This article is too brief for a discussion named “Pasting from Illustrator into InDesign”

    Has anyone seen a more detailed document about pasting/moving artwork between Photoshop & Illustrator to InDesign?? It doesn’t seem Adobe have documented this in there user guides for some silly reason.

  • Stephen says:

    One other point – To paste Illustrator paths into InDesign, undo ‘Prefer pdf when pasting’ in Indd preferences

  • […] – Links mentioned in this podcast: > Register for PePCon to reserve your place, it’s sold out every year since we started > PePCon 2012 Event on LinkedIn; see which of your contacts are attending > Info and registration for our 2-day, single track InDesignSecretsLive! in NYC, June 12-13, 2012 > Other articles about drawing in InDesign: Edit a Shape’s Frame The Hidden Join Paths Command The Zipper Effect Copy from Illustrator to InDesign or Vice Versa Pasting from Illustrator into InDesign […]

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