Illustrator CC has a symbols feature, where I can create symbols and place multiple instances of them in a document. It also allows me to save a symbols library as a .ai file, so I can use the same symbols in another document.

It seems that when I use a symbol from a library, the symbol gets imported into the document, this way, changing a library wont cascade changes to all my Illustrator documents that use the library.

A solution is to create a folder with many .ai files, each containing a symbol, this way I would have a kind of symbol library of my own. I can cascade changes by saving each symbol as a PDF compatible .ai and then placing this file in my document as a link, so changes in my .ai symbol would cascade on all files that have it linked.

Is there a better way to cascade changes from symbols across multiple documents?

  • I don't think there's currently a better solution than the one you are using.
    – Scott
    Commented Jul 1, 2015 at 14:54

2 Answers 2



You have the right solution. Reading between the lines, it sounds like your concern is managing this system.

To do this at any reasonable scale, you need a central directory ('Graphics' or 'Art' or whatever) that's full of all the assets the team may want to use. For bonus points, set the whole thing up in a remote Git repository and you can update everyone at any time from anywhere and have a history of edits and additions.

For the visual types on the team, you can add to the central directory an Illy file (or a few) full of links to the graphics. It will essentially act as a symbol library that can just be copy and pasted from.


Without knowing which version of Illustrator CC you are using, I think the last 3 versions of illustrator have the new Creative Cloud libraries panel which does essentially creates symbols of Objects, Text attributes and swatches that are shareable between files and even some adobe programs.

  • Note that the libraries are a common storage area but are not actually linked to when the objects are used within Illustrator documents. Using the libraries items copies them directly into the file being worked on and no longer links to the Cloud library.
    – Scott
    Commented Jul 1, 2015 at 14:53

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