I've created new Graphic Styles and saved them in a Graphic Style library. Later on I'm busy working in a new document where I have opened that library. I decide I want to update the Appearance of one of those Graphic Styles. So I update the style and observe everything within my document that is sharing that style is also updated. Awesome. I get all the good feels. I save over the old library with the new styles.

Now I open one of my previous documents only to find that the library hasn't updated and everything is still using the old styles. This sucks. I get all the frustrated feels.

Is this how it's supposed to work? What is the point in having a library that doesn't propegate it's changes to everywhere it's being shared?

1 Answer 1


Sorry, this isn't really going to provide a solution to a problem I experience a great deal. There really is no solution to this which I'm aware of.

This is really the same for any "styles" feature in any Adobe application - Graphic Styles, Paragraph Styles, Character Styles, object Styles, Table Styles, Layer Styles, etc. in Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, etc...

Each document is wholly independent in terms of style definitions.

Think about things in reverse..

What if all documents which used a particular style did update when you change a style anywhere? You would possibly find that file you worked on last year gets the style updated and completely ruins the overall design merely because you happened to name two very different styles the same name. Forcing you to fix the file due to the updates. Isn't it better to close a file and know it's going to stay the way you left it?

When updating a style, that updated definition will need to be re-imported into any file already using that definition if you want the style updated. And then artwork may need to be relinked to the internal style. It's just how things work. But you already know this.

For Illustrator Graphic Styles, they are customarily saved as an .ai file. So, when I change a graphic style, at that same time I open the style file and update there.. then go back through existing files to update artwork. It's a pain, I know. And I'm not arguing that this is by any means the best method. It's just the only method I'm aware of.

One possibly helpful tip is to create a "master project styles" file. I create a separate .ai file that contains all Graphic, Paragraph, and Character styles, brushes, swatches, etc for a project. I can then open that "master" file in the various panels to load those "master" items into the individual project files. Load it via the Brushes Panel and the brushes load.. load it via the Graphic Styles Panel and the styles load, etc. Not ideal, but at least it keeps all the definitions for everything in one place.

I have mentioned this to Adobe a few times. When working on something with 20-30 different files, heck even 5 files, all needing the same Graphic Style (or really any type of style) it's such a nightmare to have to track everything again when you change a style.

It would be nice if you could link to a style definition file and have them auto-update the same way you can link to images which then auto-update -- some sort of global definitions option. Unfortunately, at this time, that just doesn't exist. The best you can do is use the CC Library panel to store definition files (but only Paragraph and Character definitions) or an object which is styles how you want a Graphic Style to appear -- then update local Graphic Styles based upon that stored object after dragging to the artboard. To me, that's a far cry from a workable solution because it merely changes where the file is stored, not how the file is linked to.

  • CC Libraries don't help with this then? I was under the impression that they could be used for graphic styles, type styles, swatches etc? That is currently the one thing that's making me seriously consider upgrading to CC
    – Cai
    Apr 20, 2017 at 17:02
  • But yeh, a master AI with all the styles is the only way I've ever worked
    – Cai
    Apr 20, 2017 at 17:03
  • @Cai The CC Libraries are really just a storage option. They allow you to access assets basically over the internet should you need them in a different location (or multiple users in different locations). They store assets and not any style definitions. In fact, I see no way to actually include a style definition (any type of style) in the Libraries panel. Only objects which may then have a defined style. In short.. :) ... No the Libraries don't help with this at all. :)
    – Scott
    Apr 20, 2017 at 17:06
  • Hmm, interesting, if that's the case then that doesn't really help me out at all... I mean, all my recent files are available to me anyway.
    – Cai
    Apr 20, 2017 at 17:10
  • See this implies (especially the 4th image down) that you can create a specific library for a project and store style/color definitions there to use anywhere
    – Cai
    Apr 20, 2017 at 17:12

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