Align and Distribute Objects Relative to Key Object using the Align Panel in Illustrator CS5

The Align Panel in Adobe Illustrator can be used to align and distribute objects. The axis or the reference points for the alignment can be specified. So you can either align using the objects anchor points, or edges or align to a selection, artboard or a key object. The key object can be a specific object selected from multiple objects to be aligned or distributed.

In this tutorial, we will align our objects on the basis of the key object. Let us see how.

1. Select all the objects to be aligned and distributed. I have created this example for this tutorial.


2. Open the Align Panel – Window > Align or click on the Align link on the Application bar.


3. Now select a key object just by clicking on it. It will then be highlighted with a blue line.


4. Now choose the type of alignment and distribution. For our example, we will have to align the objects vertically and distribute them horizontally. So first choose, Vertical Align Center from the ‘Align Objects section’ to align the objects vertically as per the center of the key object. You can also try the Vertical Align Top or Vertical Align Bottom options to align the objects as per the top or bottom of the key object. See the result;


5. Next we will distribute the spacing in between all the objects equally. Select the key object like we did earlier, and in the ‘Distribute Spacing section’ enter a specific value in pixels and then click on Horizontal Distribute Space.


Explore all the other alignment and distribution options and use as required.

Filed Under: Adobe Illustrator


About the Author: Minal is a freelance web and graphics designer. She specializes in designing Logos, Stationery, Graphics and Icons as well as website templates using graphical tools like Photoshop, Illustrator and Expression Web. Twitter @saffronstroke

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  1. Orly says:

    I may be terribly retro in asking this, but in freehand the align and distribute worked on points and strokes as well, not merely objects. I could not find this in the either indesign or illustrator.
    Have any idea?

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