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Aligning Objects

The Align palette provides commands that align objects or distribute them evenly along a horizontal or vertical axis.

To work with the Align palette:

1.
Choose Window > Object & Layout > Align. This opens the Align palette .

Use the Align palette to arrange objects in an orderly fashion.

or

If the Align palette is behind other palettes, click the Align palette tab.

2.
Choose Show Options from the Align palette menu to see all the commands in the palette.

To align objects:

1.
Select two or more objects.

2.
Click an alignment icon as follows:

  • Click a vertical alignment icon to move the objects into left, centered, or right alignment .

    The effects of the vertical align commands.

  • Click a horizontal alignment icon to move the objects into top, centered, or bottom alignment .

    The effects of the horizontal align commands.

Tip

The align commands move objects based on the best representation of the controls. For instance, the Align Left command uses the left-most object; Align Top uses the top-most object, and so on.

Tip

You can use the Lock command to force one object to be the reference object for others (see the sidebar on page 114).

You can also move objects so the spaces between certain points of the objects are equal. This is called distributing objects.

To distribute objects:

1.
Select three or more objects.

2.
Click a distribute icon as follows:

  • Click a vertical distribute icon to move the objects so that their tops, centers, or bottoms are equally distributed .

    The effects of the vertical distribute commands. Notice that the middle object changes position to create an even distribution.

  • Click a horizontal distribute icon to move the objects so that their left edges, centers, or right edges are equally distributed .

    The effects of the horizontal distribute commands. Notice that the middle object changes position to create an even distribution.

You can also distribute objects based on their size. This ensures that the space between the objects is equal.

To distribute the space between objects:

1.
Select three or more objects.

2.
Click a distribute space icon as follows:

  • Click the vertical space icon to move objects so the vertical spaces between them are equal .

    The effect of the vertical distribute space command.

  • Click the horizontal space icon to move objects so the horizontal spaces between them are equal .

    The effect of the horizontal distribute space commands.

Setting the Anchor Object for Alignment

The Align palette doesn’t let you designate which object should be used as the reference object for the alignment commands. So what if you want to designate a specific object to be used as the alignment reference object?

Select the object you want to use and apply the Lock command (see page 114). Then select all the objects and apply the alignment.

The locked object remains stationary and forces the other objects to align to it. Then if you need to, unlock the object to move it and the others.


The Align palette also has controls to space objects numerically. You can apply a numerical distance between the tops, centers, bottoms, or sides of objects.

To use spacing to distribute objects:

1.
Select two or more objects.

2.
Check Use Spacing in the Distribute Objects section of the Align palette .

The Use Spacing option for Distribute Objects lets you set a specific distance between the tops, centers, bottoms, or sides of objects.

3.
Enter the numerical distance in the Use Spacing field.

4.
Click one of the Distribute Objects icons. Now the objects are separated by a specific space inserted between the tops, centers, bottoms, or sides of the objects.

Tip

If a positive number moves the objects in the wrong direction, use a negative number.

You can also set a specific numerical distance between the objects themselves. This is very useful when you want the same amount of space between objects, but the objects themselves have different sizes.

To set the spacing between objects:

1.
Select two or more objects.

2.
Check Use Spacing in the Distribute Spacing section of the Align palette .

The Use Spacing option for Distribute Spacing lets you set a specific distance between objects.

3.
Enter the numerical distance in the Use Spacing field.

4.
Click one of the Distribute Spacing icons. Now a specific amount of space is added between the objects horizontally or vertically.

Tip

If a positive number moves the objects in the wrong direction, use a negative number.

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