I am trying to plot a massive amount of data points (25.000 and more) and edit the resulting pdf in Illustrator. I noticed a peculiar behaviour that I want to understand better:

When I plot the datapoints (with R) as glyphs (single letters from a long text) like in [1], and embed the graph in Illustrator, it is slow/sluggish, but I can still work with it.

If I plot the data as points, embed them, Illustrator can simply not cope and freezes for minutes or crashes.

A glyph contains many more bezier handles than a circle (which consists of four), why is Illustrator nevertheless much faster with glyphs than circles?

Side remark: Adobe Acrobat Reader works fine with either.

Graphic with many glyphs

1 Answer 1


You can simplify work for Illustrator if you split your objects to layers. Hide layers that you don't work with and Illustrator will be much faster.

  • This is probably true. I could also work in path-mode. But this also does not answer my question why illustrator is faster for Glyphs than Shapes
    – behinger
    Jan 28, 2019 at 13:54
  • Because glyphs can contain any amount of points, but will be called only once as a whole. Data points and their relations to other data points should be recalculated every time you cange your viewport.
    – mrserge
    Jan 28, 2019 at 16:02

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