How to Use Guides in Adobe Illustrator

When it comes to creating designs and illustrations, Adobe Illustrator reigns supreme as the go-to software for creative professionals. Guides in Adobe Illustrator help designers achieve their visions by improving symmetry and alignment. 

Whether you’re a seasoned artist or just dipping your toes into the world of vector graphics, one tool that can take your skills to the next level is often overlooked and underutilized: Guides. 

In Adobe Illustrator, guides help you achieve precise alignment, improve symmetry, and streamline your creative process. Instead of tediously aligning objects manually, designers can simply snap elements to guides.

My name is Kerry and in this article, I will go through the steps of how you can use guides and explore how to harness the full potential of guides in Adobe Illustrator to take your designs to new heights.

Let’s dive into the magical world of guides and discover how to harness their power effectively! 

What Are Guides in Adobe Illustrator?

Guides, including ruler and grids, are non-printing lines that help you align and arrange objects with precision. They serve as an invisible backbone for your artwork, allowing you to maintain consistency and accuracy throughout the design process.

It’s essential to know that guides are independent of the artwork layers. Guides remain visible and functional across all layers, making them incredibly useful for maintaining consistency throughout your project.

How to Use Guides in Adobe Illustrator

I’m going to show you how to turn on different types of guides in Adobe Illustrator.


To show the rulers, go to the overhead menu and choose View > Rulers (or press Ctrl + R or Command + R for Windows and Mac, respectively). 

The rulers will show at the top and left side of your artboard.

Now, let’s start creating guides to help you align and position elements precisely. To add a horizontal guide, click and drag from the horizontal ruler on the top of your workspace down to your artboard. 

Similarly, to create a vertical guide, click and drag from the vertical ruler onto the artboard. To create a perfectly horizontal or vertical guide, hold down the Shift key while dragging.

To reposition a guide, select the Selection tool (shortcut V), then click and drag the guide to its new location. If you want to move a guide but maintain its current angle, hold down the Ctrl (Windows) or Command (Mac) key while dragging. 

If you need to remove a guide, simply select the Selection tool and click on the guide you want to delete. Then press the Delete key (or Backspace key on Windows) to remove it.

To avoid accidentally moving or deleting guides, you can lock them. Select the guides you want to lock, then go to View > Guides > Lock Guides. If you want to unlock the guides, repeat the same process and select Unlock Guides.

If you want to hide the rulers, simply use the same keyboard shortcut Command/Ctrl + R. If you want to hide the guides, you can use the keyboard shortcut Command/Ctrl + ;.

Smart Guides

Smart guides are the pink guidelines that help you align your objects. With Smart Guides active, you’ll get real-time visual cues that assist with alignment and measurements while moving objects or creating new elements.

To enable or disable guides, you can simply hit the Ctrl + U or Command + U shortcut. Alternatively, you can go to View > Guides, and click on Show Guides to toggle them on or off. 


Grids are a set of horizontal and vertical lines that help you align objects more accurately as you design. They assist in creating symmetrical and well-organized compositions. I often use it for making logos.

You can show grids from the overhead menu View > Show Grid, or use the keyboard shortcut Command/Ctrl + .

Additionally, you can enable Snap to Point and Snap to Grid to ensure your elements align perfectly. 

Final Thoughts

Now that you’ve uncovered the hidden superpower of guides in Adobe Illustrator, it’s time to incorporate them into your design process. Whether you’re working on logos, illustrations, or complex layouts, guides will be your steadfast companions, ensuring precision, organization, and balance in your creative journey.

So go forth, create, and let the guides be your guiding stars in the vast universe of Adobe Illustrator!

Play around a bit! If you have any tips or strategies for using guides within Adobe Illustrator, we would love to hear from you! Please comment down below with any tricks to utilizing this function or additional questions that you might still have about guides!

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