How to Make a Dotted Line in Illustrator

By Spencer Martin | Updated: July 5, 2022

If you’re looking up “how to make a dotted line in Illustrator”, you’re definitely not alone. In this article, I’m going to show you two different methods to make dotted lines in Illustrator. One uses the dashed line stroke option, and the other uses the blend tool.

To make a dotted line in Illustrator, select your line or shape and navigate to the Appearance panel. Click on “Stroke” to open the stroke options. Set your desired stroke weight, cap to rounded, and checkmark “Dashed Line”. Set the dash value to 0 pt and put your desired gap length.

If that’s not enough instruction for you, don’t worry, we’re going to cover everything you need to know to make a dotted line in Adobe Illustrator.

Step by Step: How to Make a Dotted Line in Illustrator

To make a dotted line in Illustrator, you need to adjust the stroke options in the Appearance panel. If you’re a beginner, let’s take a look at each option and how to achieve your desired look.

Step 1: Adding a line

First, we need a line or shape. Using the shape tools, the pen tool, or the line segment tool, create an object on your artboard. The shortcut for the pen tool is P.

Step 2: Open the Appearance Panel

Navigate to the Appearance panel by going to Window > Appearance in the overhead dropdown menu or use the Appearance panel shortcut key Shift + F6.

Step 3: Open the Stroke Options

Make sure the shape or line you created is selected. Then click on Stroke in the Appearance panel to open the stroke options dialogue box.

Step 4: Creating a Dotted Line

Check the box next to Dashed Line to create dashes. Then set your Cap to rounded, and your dash length to 0 pt. Finally, select your desired dot spacing by adjusting gap length.

Step 5: Adjusting Dot Size & Weight

Adjust the weight of your stroke to increase or decrease the dot size. You can set specific values, or use the up and down arrow keys to adjust them. You can also hold Shift while using the arrow keys to jump larger values.

Step 6: Adjusting Dot Spacing

You can adjust the spacing of your dashes by changing the gap length. This will be the distance between each dot. You can also add multiple gaps if you’d like.

There are two different gap options. The first option preserves the exact dot and gap lengths. The second option aligns the dots to the corners and path ends, adjusting the lengths to fit. In the image below, you can see the difference this makes between the two rectangles with dotted lines.

In my opinion, unless you need an exact dash or gap length, the second option to adjust the length has the cleanest look to it.

Video: How to Make a Dotted Line

I created a video tutorial on how to make a dotted line in Illustrator. If you learn better through video explanation, you can watch it and let me know in the comments if you have any more questions!

FAQ

You may have some of the same questions as other graphic designers. Let’s take a look at some common questions around adding dashed lines in Illustrator.

How do I copy a dotted line to other shapes?

If you haven’t used the eyedropper tool yet, now is the time. It’s saved me countless hours by allowing me to copy the stroke and fill of one shape to another.

In this case, you don’t need to recreate your dotted line every single time. Select the new shape you’ve created and pull up the eyedropper tool. The shortcut key for the eyedropper tool is I. With your new shape selected, all you need to do is click on the shape or line that includes the dotted or dashed line and it will apply it to your new shape.

Why is the dashed line not working in Illustrator?

I’ve seen a few instances where other designers have struggled to get the dashed line to appear, or it’s appearing in a weird way. Make sure nothing is locked in your layers panel and that you have the correct object selected. Dashes or dots can only be applied to strokes. Sometimes, our objects look like strokes but they are actually filled or have been expanded. Make sure you are working with an actual line.

Another spot to check is in the Appearance panel. You want to make sure that your object doesn’t have multiple strokes interfering with one another. If it does, try reducing the number of strokes, or applying dashes to each one.

How do I make dotted text in Illustrator?

When you add text to your Illustrator project, it’s very similar to a shape with a stroke and a fill.

If you don’t have any type in your document, use the shortcut key for the type tool by pressing T. Then click anywhere on your artboard to start typing text.

Using the same steps as before, go to the Appearance panel and adjust your stroke options to add a dotted line around your text.

Conclusion

By now you should know how to add a dotted line in Illustrator. Using the Appearance panel and stroke options allows you to make many adjustments to create the desired effect for your project!

For more Illustrator tutorials, take a look at my Illustrator YouTube Channel.

Spencer Martin

Spencer is a graphic designer and content creator who creates educational tutorials. He graduated with honors from Ball State University and received a BFA in Visual Communication. Today he is the Director of Content for Pacers Gaming and runs Pixel & Bracket LLC, an educational resource for creators.

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