Units and Grids options

The Units and grids pane of the Options dialog box lets you control various unit, grid, ruler, and arrangement settings in Microsoft Expression Design.



  • Document units   The default unit of measurement in Microsoft Expression Design is pixels, but you can change the units to use inches, centimeters, millimeters, picas, or points. The measurement system you specify appears in the rulers, Action Bar, and most other locations where measurements are specified.

  • Stroke units   You can specify your stroke width in a measurement other than the default document units. For example, you might want Document units set to centimeters, but Stroke units set to pixels. This setting affects the stroke width slider in the Appearance section of the Properties panel.

  • Type units   You can select the measurements to use when you specify font size and baseline offset. This can be helpful when you have to size your type to fit a specific amount of space.

Grids and Guides

  • Grid size   The default grid spacing (the distance between lines in the grid) is 36 points, but you can change it to any amount from 0.1 to 360 points.


  • Ruler origin is always top left of artboard   By default, the document rulers are set so that their origin (the 0,0 point) is set in the top-left corner of the artboard. However, if you disable this option, Expression Design displays the 0,0 point in the lower-left corner of the document page whenever Document units (see above) are set to anything other than pixels. When Document units are set to pixels, the ruler origin is always in the top-left corner. You can override this setting, positioning the zero-point on the rulers wherever you want it to be. To do this, on the File menu, click Set Document Origin, and then click the location you want on the document frame.


  • Rotation steps   When you rotate or drag an object with the SHIFT key held down, Expression Design constrains the rotation angle based on this value. For example, when you set this option to 8 (the default value), pressing the SHIFT key constrains the rotation to 45-degree angles (because 360 degrees divided by 8 equals 45).

  • Nudge increment   When you press an arrow key on the keyboard, any selected object or node is moved (nudged) by the value in this field. You can specify any value from zero to 100 points. If you hold down the CTRL key when pressing an arrow key, Expression Design nudges by 1/10 of the Nudge increment. If you hold down the SHIFT key, it nudges by 10x the Nudge increment.

  • Stack gap size   By default, the Stack features copy objects about 8 points away from each other. However, you can select any value from -2,000 to 2,000 points. (Negative values cause objects to overlap when stacked.)

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