The State of Sketch Symbol Meta

White phone screen with orange background and white text. Next to it reads "8 Symbols" with a strike through it. Below reads "1 Symbol."

“This process isn’t perfect yet.” - All of us, all of the time.

My Sketch symbols dropdown, even in peak organization, is a bit of a bloated mess. How about yours? Let’s cut down on wasted naming conventions and legwork; let’s use one symbol for all of our fields. We’ll accomplish this by laying all the components of the various input fields together on one symbol and then layering them correctly.


Ordering your layers meaningfully is simple; I’d recommend following the semi-chronological order of the Google Material Design ‘Text Field States’ section. Notice that the order of the layers within the symbol controls the order of the Text Overrides in the information panel.

One large computer window with 2 smaller windows that overlap it. The large one reads "Forms" and the other two display options to edit the form.


If you slap your Input Field into your document in its current state you’ll see all of the various styles overlapping and generally looking awful. Slam your spacebar once in each symbol override box and the text will disappear. Here’s an example of a pre-interaction text field’s setup:

A computer window that reads "Hint Text" opens a second area with options for "Overrides."


Before we get wild in here, there’s an important cautionary step you need to take if you’re using Zeplin, Sympli, Invision-Inspect, or any type of design-dev-handoff tool. These ultra-layered symbols really mess with the information displayed to developers. The solution is simple though; throw all of your text field states into an artboard alone and make sure to let development know where it’s located so that they can make ‘library’ components with the text fields. Easy.

White phone screen with orange background and white text displays options for "Pre-interaction," "Interaction," "Post-interaction," and "Error." Next to the screen in purple reads "Developer Guide" with a purple check mark above it.

Double Line Nightmare Mode

Time to get wild in here! Anima’s advanced layout features aren’t so complicated that they need their own tutorial at this point, but the application of Anima inside of your basic text field symbol is so awesome it does need its own shout-out.

Two text areas side by side. One reads "Polite and simple input field" and the other reads "Rude and lengthy input field with the nerve to hit 2 lines."

Sketch symbols aren’t meant to adjust based on the length of text, but Anima’s Stack-Group designation feature does this. 

Anima Stacking

Install the Anima plugin, ignore (for now) all the Launchpad features (these are for publishing HTML from Sketch, pretty cool tbh), and just select your text, your hint-line/active-line/etc., and click the folder icon. This will create a stacked-group which will keep these two items related to each other.

Your spacing will depend on your designs, but I’ve found 8pt to be acceptable to both iOS and Android users. This stage is where you’ll have to do some testing if the hint-line/related-object falls outside of the parent-symbol’s artboard. Normally symbols aren’t supposed to cut things off, but Anima might cause some strange interpretations of Sketch’s rules.

Three sections. The first displays options under "Forms/Textfield" shows "Stacked Group" options. Another section shows spacing options for the first. The third area reads "Totally normative input field with the goods to back itself up."

Further Information

Check out this Medium Article for an in-depth look at the Anima Auto-Layout plugin. It’s one of the most powerful things surrounding Sketch, and if the past is any indication of the future, these functions will eventually make it into a vanilla Sketch release.