I'm working on some die-cutting designs in Illustrator.

I have made a symbol out of a 200px-wide rectangular shape. The stroke around the shape's perimeter has a thickness of 1px. As a result, the symbol has a width of 201px.

I would like the symbol to not include the stroke thickness in the dimensions of the symbol.

Things I have tried:

  • Converting the strokes to guides. While they show up light-blue in symbol isolation mode, they are invisible otherwise.
  • Giving the shape a fill. This works, but I do not want the shape to have a fill.
  • Giving the stroke a thickness of 0. They turn invisible and I cannot see them.

Thank you for any suggestions!

Edit: Further complicating things: the path is open. That is, one edge of the rectangle has no stroke—so I can't change the stroke alignment.

  • Can't you just align the strokes to the inside?
    – Cai
    Commented Aug 17, 2016 at 17:33
  • @Cai Hah, when I saw your comment I was like, "Argh, of course!" But since the shape is open instead of closed, it seems I can't change the alignment. Commented Aug 17, 2016 at 17:38
  • 1
    Ah ok, you should add that to your question :)
    – Cai
    Commented Aug 17, 2016 at 17:42
  • 1
    @Cai Adobe is a bit daft, instead of calling it inside and outside they could call it clockwise and counterclockwise (starboard and port) and then it would work even for open paths.
    – joojaa
    Commented Aug 17, 2016 at 18:46
  • 1
    @joojaa come on, they couldn't make it that easy for us could they
    – Cai
    Commented Aug 17, 2016 at 19:32

2 Answers 2


You can set a stroke to a master layer. This way your symbol can have no stroke while the user sees a stroke because the layer draws in one. This is a bit like most CAD applications handle things. Do this:

  1. Select the circle next to the name of your object
  2. In appearances panel click on the new stroke button

    Edit the stroke settings

Every non stroked path now has the stroke you selected drawn on top of it. If you dont want to affect the layer then you can use a sub layer or group instead.

Alternatively you could draw the object 1 pixel thinner by moving sides in by 0.5 pixels. This would have the added advantage of aligning the strokes to the pixel dimension grid.


If I understand correctly you should be able to align the stroke to the outside of the shape to preserve the measurement.

The three shapes below are the same size (.75"). The top square's stroke is aligned to center (usually by default), the center square's stroke is aligned to inside and the bottom stroke aligned to outside. The width of the outside stroke is not counted in the measurement.

enter image description here

  • Thank you. Unfortunately the path is open, and so I cannot align the strokes. Commented Aug 17, 2016 at 17:59

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.