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Import shapefile – retain symbol styles

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    i have exported a layer as a shapefile from one .ai file, it has symbols linked to the symbols palette. I have imported the shapefile into another .ai file which has the same symbols in its’ symbols pallete. The symbols are not linking with the ones in the symbols palette they remain default symbols. What do I need to do to make this happen?

    Thank you


    Hi Cynthia,

    Thank you for your post. Unfortunately, Shapefile is a format that does not maintain symbology or styling on export/import which is why you are seeing the default symbols being assigned when you are re-importing. My recommendation, in order to save time, would be to develop Stylesheets (MAP Themes) that would allow you to set the styling for each layer. You can then use these Stylesheets between AI documents (using the Copy MAP Objects functionality, or by exporting the MAP Themes themselves), which will allow you to quickly re-assign the styling to the layer in the new document. For more information on MAP Themes and Stylesheets, please see our help article below. Alternatively, if you would like further help, please don’t hesitate to contact our Support Team directly at

    Thank you,

    Kate B
    Avenza Support

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