In this series, I’m covering things that stump beginners (and even veterans) in Silhouette Studio. Today, I’ll tell you about those odd blue lines that may show up on your Design area and seem to appear out of nowhere. Those are called guidelines. You can use them for reference point on your Design area. They don’t cut or print — they only show in the software. It’s like using the grid, but with different options. Here’s what they look like:
Note: This post contains affiliate links. That means if you click the link and purchase something, I may receive a small commission. This helps me to be able to keep my business going and provide more tutorials.
Guidelines are a feature in Designer Edition and up. To learn more about DE, see this post. To purchase a DE license key, go here. (Or click the Silhouette Elite graphic on the right side of this page and use the code 10OFF for a 10% discount on the regular price).
Please note that I’m NOT talking about the blue lines that have started popping up briefly as you move shapes in version 4.4. Those are for Smart Snapping, which you can read about here. What I’m talking about is blue lines that go all the way across your design area and don’t go away.
How do I use guidelines?
First, to use guidelines you need to have your rulers showing. Again, this is a feature of Designer Edition only. Go to the Page Setup panel and to the second tab. Click on “Ruler” to turn it on.
That puts a ruler across the top of your Design area and along the right side. You can see those in my pic just above.
Once the ruler is activated, move your mouse over one of the rulers. Click and drag toward the center of the Design area. That pulls a guideline out.
- Pull from the ruler above to create a horizontal guideline.
- Pull from the ruler at the right to create a vertical one.
If you’ve done that accidentally, you may have gotten the guidelines when you don’t want them. Keep reading to find out how to get rid of them.
Once you’ve added a guideline, you can move it around as well. Hover your mouse over the line until you see the cursor change to arrows shooting up and down on a horizontal guide, or left and right on a vertical guideline. Click and drag the guideline to a location. You’ll notice that when a guideline is stationery it’s light blue (Silhouette blue, I call it). If you’ve selected it or are moving a guideline it’s dark blue.
The cool thing is that you can move it to any location in 1/16″ increments. How can you tell where it is? Move aside any panels on the upper right and you’ll see the location in or beside the ruler.
Sometimes you pull out a guideline accidentally and have no clue how to get rid of it. Or, you no longer need it and don’t want to have the distraction of seeing it on the Design area. Here’s how to get rid of it–
- To delete a single guideline, hover over it like you would in trying to move it. But instead of left clicking and dragging, do a right click and choose Delete. It’s easiest to do this away from your designs so that you don’t select and delete those instead of the guideline.
- If you have several guidelines on the page and want to get rid of all of them, you can choose Delete All Guides.
- In the Page Setup panel, uncheck Show Guides. That will automatically uncheck Snap to Guides (keep reading to understand what that is). It is possible to turn that back on even while you aren’t viewing the guidelines. When you do that, it’s similar to using Smart Snapping. I explained Smart Snapping in detail in this post.
What else should I know?
There are definitely a couple of things that can drive you bonkers about guidelines if you don’t know about them.
Snap to Guides
First, you should know about Snap. As soon as you pull a guideline out from the ruler, the software automatically begins snapping to them. This is similar to Snap to Grid, which I talked about in this post, but not the same. They each have their uses.
When snapping to the grid, your shapes will only move around the page in relation to the grid. Say the upper left corner of the bounding box of your shape is 1/4″ down from the top of a grid line and 1/8″ to the right of it. When you try to move it, you can only move it somewhere that’s 1/4″ down and 1/8″ to the right of another grid line intersection. And it constricts how you resize the shape or draw a new one.
It’s different with Snap to Guides. With these, you can move the shape anywhere or make it any size, but it’s easier to get it into an exact location. When you get close to a guideline, it’s like a magnet that pulls the shape in. You’ll see the blue line color change and that tells you you’re right on the guideline. But it’s not a super-strong magnet — you can easily move the shape away from a guideline or draw one that’s not on it.
With a rotated page view
The other big thing to know is that when you rotate your view 90° or 270° in the Page Setup panel, the x- and y-axis rotate as well. Since the rulers don’t move, you might not notice. But if you have rotated the page and try to pull a guideline out from the top of the page, it will come out from the side instead. And pulling from the side gives you a horizontal guide, not a vertical one.
Notice here how a guideline that looks horizontal is actually labeled as x instead of y. And the location label for the y axis guideline is cut off.
When would I use guidelines?
Guidelines have quite a few uses in Silhouette Studio. Here are some of my top favs–
- For precision in moving objects around the page. Guidelines help you align your pieces more easily, but without the limits of Snap to Grid.
- To create a visual boundary. This is helpful for when you are typing text and need it to be a specific size. If you’ve been a Silhouette user for any length of time, you’ve probably encountered the issue where the size of your text box does NOT indicate the size your word will cut. (For a full explanation of why, see this post. It affects the vertical measurement more than the horizontal measurement on most fonts). By creating guidelines at specific intervals, you can then expand the text to fit within that.
Here I’ve got guidelines set at 2″ apart vertically and 6″ apart horizontally. The gray areas each represent a 2″ x 6″ area. The text box on top is 2″ x 6″, but you can see that the word itself isn’t. By using guidelines, I was able to resize the lower text box so that the word fills out the entire 2″ x 6″ area.
I used to just draw a rectangle for this purpose, but I kept forgetting to delete it when I was done.
- When you want something like a grid, with or without snapping, but need to have different intervals on the x- and y-axis. For example, you can create horizontal guidelines every 2″ and vertical guidelines every 3″.
What other ways do you use guidelines? Comment below to share.
Leave a Reply