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How to Locate a Position in Adobe Illustrator

written by: Bruce Tyson•edited by: Amy Carson•updated: 9/28/2010

The precision of Adobe Illustrator makes it possible to locate a position with exacting precision. Once you understand how to locate a position in Adobe Illustrator, you will be able to make even the most delicate placements.

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    Getting Started

    Because this tutorial will show you how to locate a position in Adobe Illustrator, you will need Adobe Illustrator installed on your computer to follow along. Although Illustrator CS5 for Windows is used here, you should be able to follow along in earlier versions or on the Mac without much trouble. If you do not have the software, you may download a trial version by visiting the Adobe Web site. To get started, open Illustrator and create a new document.

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    The Info Window

    The canvas in Adobe Illustrator is easily navigated by X and Y coordinates, much after the way one would navigate a graph. To view the coordinates of the mouse at any position, use the "Info" window. You can open this window by clicking "Window" on the main menu and then clicking the "Info" option (you can also open this window by pressing <Ctrl> and <F8> simultaneously. position01 

    When the "Info" window opens, you can see the position of the mouse in the left hand side of the window.

    position02 The coordinates of 0, 0 are at the top left corner of your canvas and the maximum values of X and Y (numbers vary based on the size of your document) are located at the lower right corner.

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    Using the Position Information

    Now that you can locate the precise coordinates of any location on your Adobe Illustrator canvas, you can use this information to create objects and place them with precision. To demonstrate this, grab the rectangle tool from the toolbox.


    Now move the cursor onto the canvass and click with the left mouse button and then drag down and to the right. The X and Y coordinates in the left column show the point of your click which is the origin of the object. In the right column you can see how wide and tall your object is (values are in points). You will also see a box with size information attached to the corner of the object as you drag. You will notice that the box displays the size of the object based on one-hundreths of a point, but the "Info" window displays values with an accuracy of one-thousandths.


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    Better Placement

    Now that you know how to locate a position in Adobe Illustrator, you may have noticed that placing your object at an exact point is a bit tricky (depending on the resolution of your mouse). Fortunately, there is a way around that inaccuracy. Let's suppose that you wanted your rectangle at the exact location of 150, 150 on your canvass (right now it is at 115.644, 127.055).

    First, open the "Transform" window by clicking on "Window" on the main menu and then selecting "Transform" (you may also press <Shift> and <F8> simultaneously from the keyboard). Next, click the selection tool from the toolbox and then select your object.

    position05 You will notice right away that the location information in the "Info" window and in the "Transform" window is different. This is because the coordinates in the "Info" window show the origin of your object while the "Transform" window shows the coordinates of the center of your object. Since we want to move the origin, you will have to add 34.356 to the X value in the transform box and 22.945 to the Y value to accurately place your rectangle. Sorry about that math, but that's the best way to relocate your objects with precision.


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    Wrapping it Up

    Now that you know how to locate a position in Adobe Illustrator using both the "Info" window and the "Transform" window, you can add a high degree of precision to your work. Try it yourself and use this skill to improve your daily work.

    Image Credits: Screen shots taken by Bruce Tyson