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When I think of Indesign and editing/ type setting, I use character and paragraph styles. These functions are extraordinarily useful when you get into formatting/adjusting styles over many pages etc.

Is there a way to do this in illustrator with objects? For example, I have a number of abstract shapes that are comprised of multiple objects of different colors. I want to change all the shapes that are red to green for example without having to select each individually.

Here's what I know and what I don't know. I know I could use symbols if the "symbols" where the same and edit the one symbol to change the rest etc. I also cannot group the objects due to the position within the rest of the composition.

Question: What is the most efficient way to change multiple shapes at once that are not grouped and are not symbols?

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Global swatches.

If you set colors using global swatches, you can simply double-click the swatch, adjust color, and all objects with that swatch applied will update. In addition, global swatches will maintain tints when adjusting the base color. You have to set the swatch to global before applying it to any objects.

global swatches

Note: this only works for Global and Spot swatches (Spots swatches are set to global by default).

To set a swatch to Global, simply double-click the swatch in the Swatch Panel or choose Swatch Options from the Swatch Panel menu.

Beyond this, you can easily use Edit > Edit Colors > Recolor Artwork to alter a color in the document, regardless of where it's used.

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As answered here

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