I am trying to create a card, and wish to duplicate it multiple times on a page, while keeping the copies in sync with the source artboard. The idea is like copy with link in Word or Excel.

Is this possible in Illustrator? Or, is there a workaround?

I looked at Symbol, but it seems to be useful only for simple objects, not the whole artboard. However, my artboard is fairly simple, just a bunch of texts.

If this can be done somehow, I will then import variables to create a total of 6000 some cards. But, this is a separate issue, just a consideration for solving the current issue.

  • Do it in two steps. First batch the data into the cards then distribute. (most likely you dont need to distribute since the printer can merge the individual cards on papers)
    – joojaa
    Apr 25, 2020 at 8:10
  • Are you saying that I only need to create the individual cards and then output the PDF files, containing one card each. Then, the printer would be able to print 10 copies each on a page?
    – Yuan Liu
    Apr 26, 2020 at 15:47
  • All our digital presses and inkjets have a control software that enable this easily. Hell even my home printer can do this ()but it does have a PS interpretter . And then the placing trick below works, you dont actually have to place the 6000 PDF files just make one template then have a JavaScript update the links for every sheet.
    – joojaa
    Apr 26, 2020 at 17:39
  • Thanks. I think I got it. I'll take some more online lessons and try it and see where it takes me
    – Yuan Liu
    Apr 27, 2020 at 12:49

1 Answer 1


You can use File > Place to place one .ai file into another .ai file as a link.

Editing the original file would then cause all links to it to ask to be updated.

  • Yes, it works for a single card, thank you! However, I have more than 6000 cards, which means I will have to generate 6000 cards using variable, and then create 6000 AI files and manually linking each such file to a separate card file. This is going to be tedious and error-prone. Perhaps I can write a script to do this? But I will eventually end up with over 6000 PDF files for the printer. Am I missing something here?
    – Yuan Liu
    Apr 26, 2020 at 15:38

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.