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As I'm placing items for a design, I find myself guessing a lot about positioning, usually I will take an item and everything else that might be similar I'll use align-left, or distribute-center. However, if I have text, all aligned left, and I want an item to be X pixels away from the end of that item, is there a way i can specify that without tapping the right arrow five times?

There might be a better way to do this, something more magical that Illustrator was born to do, so any suggestions are helpful.

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up vote 2 down vote accepted
  1. Type your text.
  2. Create your item.
  3. Put the left edge of your item at the end of the text.
  4. With the item still selected, go under Object → Transform → Move.
  5. Enter the distance you need it to move in the dialog box. Clicking the Preview box is helpful.
  6. You can then either align subsequent items under the first item, or select subsequent items and choose Object → Transform → Transform Again, and they will all do the last transformation (in this case, moving).
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Excellent. This is exactly what I was looking for. What's the best way to meet the left border of an object with the right border of an object (or the top of one object with the bottom of another)? Is it to use smart guides and hope that snap-to puts them in the right spot? – MrGrigg Mar 24 '11 at 12:43
    
I would go to View --> Outline mode, zoom in to 6400% or whatever, and drop a guide at the edge you want to align to. Turn on Snap to Guides and that should work. However, please note that Outline View works better if you are aligning to text. If you are aligning to an object with a stroked line, then stay in Preview, or you'll be aligning to the line and not the stroke (which could be several points off). – Lauren Ipsum Mar 24 '11 at 16:14
    
Thanks, Lauren, sometimes it's good to know that there is no quick key command or file menu to do something, and that manually lining things up is the correct way to proceed. – MrGrigg Mar 25 '11 at 12:38
    
Glad I could help. :) – Lauren Ipsum Mar 25 '11 at 12:44

This can be efficiently accomplished using the Transform Palette (found under Window > Transform)

enter image description here

Lets say for example I want to move the yellow square to the right of the blue square precisely, in the "X:" field of the transform palette, I see that the current X center of my selected object is "267.13mm."

In order to move it exactly 10mm's I can simply type "+10" in the X field of the palette (since mm is my default unit) and it will correctly move the yellow square 10mm to the right (use negative values to move left, this works the same in the Y dimension, and also function in the W/H fields).

enter image description here

If I wanted to move the yellow square 10pts (not mm), the I would add +10pt AFTER the mm in the X: field.

This function works correctly with multiplication, division, an other simple arithmetic actions in most Illustrator fields.

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