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Adobe Illustrator: Bullet lists

by Barb Binder, Adobe Certified Instructor on Illustrator

This came in from a recent Adobe Illustrator student:

Hey, Barb. I’m laying out a 2-page flyer in Illustrator and I can’t find bullets. Can’t I set up a bulleted list in Illustrator?

As of Illustrator CC 2015, there is no bullets feature (like we have in InDesign), but that doesn’t mean you can’t create a bullet list… you just have to set up yourself. Here’s how:

  1. Using the Type tool, drag out an area text box.
    Adobe Illustrator CC 201: Bullet list
  2. Add and format the list.
    Adobe Illustrator CC 201: Bullet list
  3. Add the bullet and a tab in front of each list item:
    1. To get the basic round bullet on a Mac, tap Opt+8. To get the basic round bullet on Windows, tap Alt+7 on the numeric keypad. For more fun bullets, see the note at the bottom of this post.
    2. Add a tab after the bullet.
    3. To make it more visual, consider displaying hidden characters so that you can see the tab character between the bullet and the text with Type > Display Hidden Characters.
      Adobe Illustrator CC 201: Bullet list
  4. Set up a hanging indent:
    1. Select the list and open the Paragraph panel with Window > Type > Paragraph.
    2. Enter a left indent and a negative 1st line indent. (I am measuring in points, but you can use your favorite unit of measure.  I used 20 pts for the left indent and -20 pts for the 1st line indent.)
      Adobe Illustrator CC 2015ss_037
    3. With the list still selected, open the Tabs panel with Window > Type > Tabs.
    4. Select the left-align tab, and then enter the same value that you used for your left indent. Again, for me it’s 20 pts. (Notice that I am using the same value for the left indent, negative 1st line indent and left-aligned tab: 20, -20, 20.)
      Adobe Illustrator CC 201: Bullet list
  5. When you are done, you can hide the hidden characters and adjust the width of the area frame, while maintaining the hanging indent.
    Adobe Illustrator CC 201: Bullet list

NOTE: If you are looking for more fun bullet characters, choose Type > Glyphs. Locate an ornamental font and let the games begin!
Adobe Illustrator CC 201: Bullet list

 

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10 thoughts on “Adobe Illustrator: Bullet lists

  1. This was excellent! So simple to follow! I have been working in Illustrator for years and could not figure this out. I really appreciate your help and guidance! Have a great day!

  2. As a beginner this is very helpful. The program has alot I don’t know about
    Am slowly working toward perfection.

  3. Thank you very much. I also wanted to ask if we will do indentation with sub points then how we will go about it

  4. Make sure that the units are the same, so if you are using “pt” for the indents, make sure to type in pt for the tab too (I was typing in 20 but it was 20mm not 20pt), eityher that or switch the rulers to match type units