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Using Symbols and Instances

Symbols are objects or groups of objects that have been given the power to control copies of themselves. The copies are called instances. Whatever changes are made to a symbol are automatically applied to its instances. These are similar to the symbols and instances found in Macromedia Flash.

To create a symbol:

  1. Select the object or objects that you want to be the symbol.

  2. Choose Insert > Convert to Symbol. The Symbol Properties dialog box appears (Figure  12).

    Figure 12

    The Symbol Properties dialog box lets you name and designate the type of symbol.

  3. Enter the name for the symbol.

  4. Choose Graphic for symbols that are to be used in animations.

  5. Click OK. The object on the page is converted into an instance of the symbol (Figure  13).

    Figure 13

    The corner arrow indicates the object is an instance of a symbol.


  • You can create additional instances of the symbol by duplicating the first instance.

  • Use the Library also to create new instances of the symbol.

  • You can drag instances from one document into another. This automatically creates a symbol for the new document.

Other uses for symbols

Although graphic symbols are very helpful in creating animations, they are not limited only to animated images.

You can also use graphic symbols for elements that appear many times in your artwork. Since each instance is governed by the symbol, any changes to the symbol will change all the instances.

For instance, if you create a page with the name of the company duplicated many times, symbols let you change the typeface or color of the name and it will change throughout the document.

To edit a symbol:

  1. Double-click an instance of the symbol. This opens the Symbol window (Figure  14).


    With a symbol selected, choose Modify > Symbol > Edit Symbol. This opens the Symbol window.

    Figure 14

    The Symbol window allows you to edit a symbol.


  • You can also use the Library panel to edit a symbol.

  1. Make whatever changes you want to the symbol.

  2. Close the window. All instances of the symbol are updated.


  • Notice that the Symbol window does not show the tabs for the Preview options. This makes it easy to tell if you are working on a symbol or the document.

To create a blank symbol window:

  1. Choose Insert > New Symbol. This opens the Symbol Properties dialog box.

  2. Name the symbol.

  3. Choose Graphic for the type of symbol.

  4. Click OK. A blank Symbol window appears.

  5. Use any of the tools or commands to create a graphic within the Symbol window.

  6. Close the window. This creates an instance of the symbol on the document page.

To break the link to a symbol:

  1. Select the instance.

  2. Choose Modify > Symbol > Break Link. This converts the instance into an ordinary object, no longer controlled by the symbol.

Save outside the Symbol window

The Save command does not work when you are working inside the Symbol window. You must close the window and then apply the Save command to save your work.

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