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Graphic styles

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Learn about the Graphic Styles and how to manage the Graphic Styles panel and Graphic Styles libraries.

About Graphic Styles

A graphic style is a set of reusable appearance attributes. Graphic Styles allow you to quickly change the look of an object. You can apply graphic styles to objects, groups, and layers. When you apply a graphic style to a group or layer, every object in the group or layer takes on the attributes of the graphic style. 


If you apply a graphic style to a group or layer, but the style’s fill color doesn’t appear in the artwork, drag the Fill attribute above the Contents entry in the Appearance panel.

Graphic Styles panel 

Use the Graphic Styles panel (Window > Graphic Styles) to create, name, and apply sets of appearance attributes. The panel lists a default set of graphic styles when you create a document. Graphic styles that are saved with the active document appear in the panel when that document is open and active.

Graphic Styles panel
Graphic Styles panel

A. Graphic Styles Libraries Menu B. Break Link to Graphic Style C. New Graphic Style D. Delete Graphic Style E. Graphic Style panel menu 

To see any style more clearly, or to preview the style on a selected object, right-click (Windows) or Ctrl-click (macOS) the style’s thumbnail in the Graphic Styles panel and view the large pop-up thumbnail that appears.

If a style doesn’t have a fill and stroke (for example, an effect-only style), the thumbnail appears in the shape of the object with a black outline and white fill. In addition, a little red slash appears, indicating the absence of a fill or stroke.

Right-click style thumbnail to view large pop-up thumbnail. Selected style is an effect-only style.
Right-click style thumbnail to view large pop-up thumbnail. Selected style is an effect-only style.

Graphics Style panel menu

Use the Graphic Styles panel menu   to access various options available. 

  • Select a view size option from the panel menu.
  • Select Sort by Name from the panel menu to list the graphic styles in alphabetic or numeric order (Unicode order).
  • Select Square for Preview from the panel menu to view the style on a square or the shape of the object on which it was created.
  • Select Text for Preview from the panel menu to view the style on the letter. This view provides a more accurate visual description for styles applied to text.
Graphic Styles panel menu options
Graphic Styles panel menu options

Graphic style for type using text for the preview
Graphic style for type using text for the preview

Work with graphic styles

You can create a graphic from scratch by applying appearance attributes to an object, or you can base a graphic style on other graphic styles. You can duplicate existing graphic styles or import various graphic styles from other documents.

  • Select New Graphic Style    on the Graphics Styles panel to create a new graphic style.
  • Select Merge Graphic Styles from the panel menu    to create a graphic style based on two or more existing graphic styles. The new graphic style contains all the attributes of the selected graphic styles and is added to the end of the list of graphic styles in the panel.
  • Select Duplicate Graphic Style from the panel menu   to duplicate a graphic style. The new graphic style appears at the bottom of the list in the Graphic Styles panel.
  • To rename a graphic style, choose the Graphic Styles Options from the panel menu   > rename the file > OK.
  • To delete a graphic style, select the graphic style > Delete Graphic Style   in the Graphic Styles panel.
  • To break the link to a graphic style, select the object > Break link to Graphic Style   in the Graphic Styles panel.
  • To replace the graphic style attributes, select the graphic style you want to replace. Then select artwork (or target an item in the Layers panel) that has the attributes you want to use, and select Redefine Graphic Style “Style name” from the Appearance panel menu.

The replaced graphic style keeps its name but takes on new appearance attributes. All occurrences of the graphic style in the Illustrator document are updated to use the new attributes.

  • To import all graphic styles from another document, select Graphics Styles Libraries Menu   > Other Library > Select the file from which you want to import graphic styles > Open.

The graphic styles appear in a Graphic Style library panel (not the Graphic Styles panel).

Apply a graphic style

  1. Select an object or group (or target a layer in the Layers panel).

  2. To apply a single style to an object, select a style form the Styles menu in the Graphic Styles panel or Graphic Style Library.

  3. To merge a style with an object’s existing style attributes, or apply multiple styles to an object,select the object and Alt-click (Windows) or Option-click (macOS) the style in the Graphic Styles panel.


    To preserve the color of type when applying a graphic style, deselect Override Character Color in the Graphic Styles panel menu.

Graphic Style Libraries

Graphic style libraries are collections of preset graphic styles. When you open a graphic style library, it appears in a new panel (not the Graphic Styles panel). You select, sort, and view items in a graphic style library the same as you do in the Graphic Styles panel. However, you can’t add items to, delete items from, or edit the items in graphic style libraries.

  • To open it, select Graphic Styles Libraries Menu   on the Graphic Styles panel.
  • To save a new graphic style to the library, select Graphic Styles Libraries Menu  Save Graphic Style Library > Save
  • To move graphic styles from a library to the Graphic Styles panel ,select the graphic styles you want to add, and then select Add to Graphic Styles from the Graphic Styles Libraries panel menu.

To automatically open a library when you start Illustrator, choose Persistent from the library’s panel menu.

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