these shapes were hand traced, and as you can see there are slight angles that deviate from 90 degrees on the right side of the rectangles below.

is there a way to make them vertical in illustrator?

enter image description here

these are for a scientific figure, and are basically rectangles on a string, and sometimes rectangles with an arrow at the end.

enter image description here

i used the pen tool to create objects. in the end they actually don't look so bad, but i need to tune them up.

  • It is not entirely clear to me what you want to achieve? Is the bottom image an example of what you want? and the top image what you are currently achieving? If so, I would forget hand tracing, and rather do some simple manipulation of polygons.
    – benteh
    Sep 14, 2014 at 22:52
  • 2
    I, personally, would use the rectangle tool - draw one, then option-click-drag for the others. Add an anchor to one side and pull it outward for the point. I'd never "trace" these shapes.
    – Scott
    Sep 14, 2014 at 23:08
  • Sounds like you want to enable gridsnap
    – joojaa
    Sep 15, 2014 at 3:58

1 Answer 1


To align vertically or horizontally one side of your shapes, you can select the 2 vertical points you want to align with the white arrow (direct selection tool), and go in the menu "Object" and then select "Path." Then select "Average." A window will open and let you 3 choices; in your case, you want to align vertically, so choose "vertical."

Aligning shapes vertically or horizontally in Adobe Illustrator

Then that side will be at 90 degree angle. For your vertical alignment, you'll need to do this for all your shapes.


You can also do this with your arrow shape by selecting the 2 points next to the arrowhead, and align them vertically as well.

Arrow aligned vertically

You can do this on many shapes at once if you want to equalize them all, as long their paths are on the same axis. For example, if you want to align the top of all your 3 shapes, you could select all their top corners and use the function above but select "horizontal" instead. It will align them in "average" so it's not a 100% precise tool but at least the lines will be straight.

The fastest way to proceed with that kind of project is to trace your shapes properly and then duplicate them... and then expanding their side if you need them to be wider! This way you won't need to adjust every single shape.

One good trick when tracing shapes by hand is to always hold the "shift" key when tracing a path or a line; it will create a perfectly vertical or horizontal line. It works in almost every software! Holding the shift key while moving shapes also help to move them in a straight way and that too can be useful for duplicating shapes or aligning them.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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