This tutorial shows how to use the rulers in Adobe Acrobat. The rulers can help you align text boxes, images, buttons, form fields, and other visuals in your PDF.
First, we will turn on the horizontal and vertical rulers. Second, we will change the rulers’ unit of measurement. Third, we will use the ruler guides. Fourth, we will change Acrobat’s preferences so that the rulers appear every time you open your software. In that section, we will also change the preferences for the default unit of measurement and guide color.
Table of Contents
- How to Turn On the Rulers
- How to Change the Rulers’ Unit of Measurement
- How to Use the Ruler Guides
- How to Change the Ruler and Ruler Guide Preferences
Do you want enough more alignment help? Please see “How to Use the Grid in Adobe Acrobat (PC & Mac).” Plus, we will cover Adobe Acrobat’s measurement tool in an upcoming tutorial.
Watch all the steps shown here in real time!
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The images below are from Adobe Acrobat Pro DC. This process also applies to Adobe Acrobat 2020 and Adobe Acrobat 2017. In addition, the steps are similar for PC and Mac. These steps don’t apply to Adobe’s free PDF display software, Acrobat Reader.
How to Turn On the Rulers
- Select the View menu.
- Select Show/Hide from the drop-down menu.
- Select Rulers & Grids from the submenu.
- Select Rulers from the secondary submenu.
The rulers should appear on the top and left side of the page.
To turn off the rulers, repeat steps 1 through 3, and then deselect Rulers in the secondary submenu, as shown in figure 1.
Pro Tip: Ruler Keyboard Shortcuts
Turn on or turn off the rulers by using the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + R (PC) or Command + R (Mac).
How to Change the Rulers’ Unit of Measurement
- Right-click (PC) or Control-click (Mac) on the horizontal or vertical ruler and then select an option from the shortcut menu:
The unit of measurement will change for the horizontal and vertical rulers.
How to Use the Ruler Guides
The ruler guides are lines that help you align objects on the page. Your rulers must be turned on to create the guides.
How to Create and Move the Ruler Guides
- Click the horizontal ruler and then drag your cursor down to create a guide. Alternatively, you can click the vertical ruler and then drag your cursor to the right to create a guide.
- To move the guide, select it and then use the double-headed arrow cursor to drag the guide to a new location.
How to Remove the Ruler Guides
- Right-click (PC) or Control-click (Mac) the horizontal or vertical ruler and then select Clear Guides on Page or Clear All Guides.
Alternatively, you can deselect Show Guides to hide the guides but not remove them from the page. Therefore, you can choose to reselect Show Guides later, and they will appear in the same locations.
- To delete an individual ruler guide, select and hold it while you press the Delete key on your keyboard. (However, this method will not work if the Edit PDF toolbar is open.)
How to Change the Ruler and Ruler Guide Preferences
You can change Acrobat’s preferences so that the rulers appear every time you open your software. In addition, you can change the default unit of measurement and the color of the ruler guides.
- Select the Edit menu (PC) or the Adobe Acrobat menu (Mac).
- Select Preferences from the drop-down menu. (PC users see figure 7; Mac users see figure 8.)
- Select the Units & Guides category in the Preferences dialog box.
- Use the Page & Ruler Units menu to select a new default unit of measurement.
- Use the Guide color menu to select a new default guide color.
- Select Show rulers when opening document to turn on the rulers by default.
- Select the OK button.
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Updated September 11, 2022