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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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9 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