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How to Align Objects to a Main Object in Illustrator CS3 Step-by-Step Tutorial

Updated on July 6, 2011

Adobe Illustrator is a very precise illustration tool.

And that is to our advantage! If our purpose is to align objects, we do not have to manually measure or use guides to help position the objects. Rather, we could do the aligning using the Align Panel. However, we will also address the topic of aligning objects to a particular object at a particular spot, a little known feature that has been around since Illustrator 9.

We will visit these two options in just a moment but first, let's open up the Align Panel before proceeding.

Skill Level: Beginner

Open Align Panel
Open Align Panel


STEP 1 Align Panel

FIrst and foremost, open your Align Panel by going to Window>Align or use keyboard shortcut Shift+F7.

Select Objects
Select Objects


Select all your objects that you wish to align using your Selection Tool or keyboard shortcut V.

Use Align Panel
Use Align Panel


Go to your Align Panel. Click on 'Horizontal Align Center' and 'Vertical Align Center'. Note that your objects are now aligned to the central points of your selection's bounding box as Illustrator does that by default.

OK. That is fine and good. But what if you prefered Illustrator to centre all objects around a main object at a particular spot?

It is possible to do it! Here is the tip:

All you have to do it select all your objects and click your main object (just click, no need to press the Shift key) and that click will set it as the “Key Object”. Click the align buttons and Illustrator will align the rest of the objects in your selection around that Key Object!


That is all there is to it. A quick and easy way of aligning objects in Illustrator CS3.

My next hub on Illustrator tips and tricks will focus on how to distribute objects using Illustrator CS3 and CS5. Look out for it!

Check out one of my other popular hubs:
How to Divide a Circle or a Pie in Equal Parts using Illustrator CS3

Adobe Illustrator is an illustration and graphic design software produced by Adobe Systems that is used by professional Graphic Designers and Production Artists. It allows you to create accurate vector artwork for any project. Photoshop on the other hand is recognised as the industry's leading software in digital image correction and is pixel-based.

This step-by-step Adobe Illustrator CS3 tutorial are intended for beginner users (with basic knowledge of Illustrator).

For more tutorials on little known secrets to InDesign or Illustrator, please go to
Little Known Secrets to Adobe InDesign
Little Known Secrets to Adobe Illustrator

You are welcome to print, share or link to this tutorial; however, please refrain from publishing by copying and pasting onto your site, forums, etc. If you have found this article helpful, please leave a comment or suggestions to other topics you might like to see written.

Trial Version - Click here for Adobe Illustrator CS5 software free download.

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-May PL


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    • May PL profile image

      May PL 4 years ago from Melbourne, Australia

      Hi S Roy,

      Thanks, I am so glad it made a difference for you :)

      Kind regards,


    • profile image

      S Roy 4 years ago

      Hi thanks for the post! It was really helpful!