I am trying to convert a simple shape into a symbol.

When I do that, the selection box (I don't know the technical term for it) changes.

So here we have the shape. Align to pixel grid is off, snap to grid is on. As you can see, the pink selection is aligned to the grid. This is how I want it. enter image description here

Now I have converted this into a symbol, again Align to pixel grid is off. Now the pink selection box selects the boundaries of the shape. This box is not aligned to the grid. enter image description here

I need to keep snap to grid on because i need precision in my work. The changes in how illustrator sees this symbol really makes it tough because snap to grid is on. Now when I move this symbol, the selection box aligns the outside of the symbol to the grid.

I need help to understand how I can keep the symbol and the selection just like in the first figure.

Plus.. what is the technical name for the pink selection box?


3 Answers 3


By default, all strokes in Illustrator are aligned to the center of their corresponding path. The bounding box on paths, is defined by the outside edge of the path and not the stroke applied to that path. You can see this by changing the stroke weight... the bounding box won't change no matter how thick or thin the stroke.

A Symbol is seen as a rectangle with contents. There is no "path" directly for a symbol. The bounding box for a Symbol is defined as the outside preview of the symbol contents, and not the paths within the symbol.

You can see identical bounding boxes for both pieces of art by ticking the Use Preview Bounds option in Preferences > General.

There is no way to change what a symbols sees as it's defining shapes. It'll always be the preview bounds. Therefore, if you want symbol and standard artwork to have the same bounding box, you need to check Use Preview Bounds in the Preferences and leave it on.

In some cases you can align a stroke to the inside on non-symbol artwork as @Lucian answers. That will work for simple stroked shapes. However, that is not always a viable solution and is highly dependent upon the actual artwork containing the stroke.


Firstly, the pink box is commonly referred to as a bounding box.

Secondly, I don't think that it is possible to achieve the behaviour that you are looking for.

In your first image the bounding box shows the extent of the shape. The key line is a style applied to that shape so it can go beyond the bounding box. Once the shape is converted to a symbol, the appearance is expanded (sort off) so the bounding box moves to the extent of the resulting object. That's just how illustrator works.

As I see it, you have two options; either don't use symbols (you can still duplicate the shape and it will then behave as you want it to) or if you need to use symbols, then align the centre of the symbol to your grid, rather than the edges. If your example is representative then the centre won't move.

  • Yes this is probably what I'll have to do. If I give up using "snap to grid" I can align the centre to the grid just like you said. But I'll probably just duplicate shapes. Thanks :-) Commented Jun 16, 2017 at 15:19

Before converting to symbol, align the stroke of your circle shape to inside by clicking this button shown below. This pushes the stroke inside the circle so it doesn`t go off the grid.

The pink box is called 'Bounding Box' and it is pink because your layer is pink. Bounding boxes will take the color of their layer. Change the color of your layer to green, the box will be green and so on. Not always pink :)

enter image description here

  • Thanks. For practical purposes this works for me right now, but the size of the symbol becomes smaller, since the stroke comes inside. Thanks though :-) Commented Jun 16, 2017 at 15:15
  • Its the quickest solution here but you need to also consider the other info provided here. If you feel this answer helped in any way, try clicking the up arrow and/or the check icon next to my answer above. Thanks
    – Lucian
    Commented Jun 16, 2017 at 15:17

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