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Data Visualization with Adobe Illustrator

Have you ever read a report with graphs that look like they were created in a word-processing program? Maybe you’ve perused a pamphlet with charts that were clearly created in Microsoft Paint. While the information might have been conveyed, it likely wasn’t as compelling as it could have been.

Workers compare various types of graphs on a smartphone, laptop, and hardcopy.

If you take the time and effort to collect and analyze data, you owe it to yourself, your colleagues, and your target audience to present those data in a visually engaging manner. One way to do that is by visualizing your data with Adobe Illustrator.

Setting the Stage

First, you need to choose which type of graph best visualizes your data. Illustrator has several built-in layouts to get you started.


Next, you need to decide how big your graph should be. Defining the dimensions of a graph is as simple as clicking and dragging. Click where you want the graph to begin and drag the cursor to where you want the graph to end. For more precise dimensions, you can click where you want the graph to appear and enter a specific height and width. If your graph is too big or small, you can adjust the dimensions at any time.

Data Entry

After your dimensions are defined, you’ll be prompted to enter your data. Here, you have three options: manually key in your data, copy and paste your data from a spreadsheet, or copy and paste your data from a word-processing program. The first two options are the most straightforward, while the third option requires specific formatting for the data to properly populate the graph.


Now it’s time to label your graph. To do this, simply enter your preferred axis labels in the first column for the y axis and the first row for the x axis. Pro tip: If you leave the top-left cell blank, Illustrator will automatically generate a legend for your data. After you are satisfied with your data entries and labels, click the check mark to implement the information.

Did you know You can easily transform the look and feel of your graph by changing the layout. Just click the Graph tool in the Tools panel and select from nine unique layouts. Your data, formatting, and color palette will carry over, which makes it an easy and fun way to explore different options for visualizing your data.


Customizing your layout is when the fun really begins! You can change the colors or patterns of your visualized data, change the typeface of your labels, add shading or other artistic elements, rotate your axes, add imagery, and countless other customizations to make your graphs intuitive and eye-catching.

Now is the time to let your creativity run free! Customization possibilities are truly endless and only limited by your imagination and proficiency with Illustrator. Lucky for you, Illustrator is one of the many programs that MacroSys’s staff have been using for years to help clients make their data come to life.

Be on the lookout for additional posts in our Create with Adobe series!

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