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Editing a Symbol

Once you place a symbol instance on the page, you can apply Transform (scaling, rotating, and skewing) and Arrange commands to it, but as long as it is a symbol instance, you cannot edit it in any other way as an individual object. Try to change one of the leaves on your page; you can’t ungroup it, nor can you make any changes to its color or shape. You can, however, easily make changes to all instances of the leaf, by editing the symbol, as you will do in this task.

Select one of the leaves on the page and choose Modify > Symbol > Edit Symbol.

A new window opens where you can make changes to the leaf. Note the Auto-Update check box at the top left of the window. When this check box is selected (it is selected by default), any changes you make to the symbol are applied to all instances on the page.


You can also double-click the symbol icon (to the left of the symbol name) on the Library panel to open the symbol-editing window.


The symbol-editing window is easy to confuse with the document window. The Auto-Update check box is your visual clue that you are in the symbol-editing window. Plus the symbol name, plus the document file name appears in the title bar of the symbol window.

Make a change to your leaf. For example, change the gradient color or add a new color to the gradient ramp.

You might add a warm yellow color to the gradient to give an autumn tone to the leaf. The goal here is to make an obvious change to the symbol.


Use the Subselect tool to select an object in a group instead of ungrouping the object. To use the shortcut for the temporary Subselect tool, hold down Alt (Windows) or Option (Mac OS) and click one of the grouped objects.

When you are done making changes to the symbol, close the symbol-editing window.

All instances of the leaf symbol on the page are updated with your changes. If there were instances of the symbol on multiple pages of your document, those would be updated as well.



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