Quick Tricks are a series of blog posts shedding light on easily-missed features in your favourite design software. This time, I am writing about using mathematics to transform objects, which seems to work across the Adobe suite.

Quite often we need to adjust the size of an element to a precise level. There’s no need to whip out a calculator and do this kind of thing manually, as I only discovered not so long ago!

In this example, I want to increase the size of a 100 mm circle to three times its current scale.

Select the item and look at the Control panel (if you have it activated) or the Transform palette and find the width value. Don’t forget to toggle the chain icon to constrain the proportions. For Multiplication, simply type *3 on the end of the current value. It should look like this:

100 mm*3

Hit Return and the value will update, increasing the circle size accordingly. This technique also works with Division:

100 mm/[value]


100 mm+[value]

…and Subtraction:

100 mm-[value]

You can also enter Percentages if you prefer. Just replace the whole figure with:


This trick isn’t restricted to the size of objects, you can use it on page margins, x/y coordinates, font size, document dimensions, brush size… Any option you can enter a number against!

Header Image: Hatched from the quite brilliant Everett Collection on Shutterstock.