Merge Duplicates: Get rid of duplicate and inconsistent symbols and styles in a breeze

Oscar Oto
Oscar Oto
Apr 1, 2020 · 5 min read

More than 15.000 designers are using Merge Duplicates to keep their design systems and files consistent and clean.

As you’re reading this, you have duplicated, inconsistent, and unnecessary symbols and styles in your design files, and you know it 😅.

We all try to keep our design files consistent and clean. For the sake of consistency, primarily, but also because it saves us enormous amounts of time. Having more symbols and styles than strictly needed not only makes it way harder to find and use the right ones and keep consistency in our designs. It makes maintaining and growing those design files more and more complicated and takes more time.

For design system and library managers keeping design files clean is mission critical. For design system users, knowing what to apply under what circumstances is crucial, and should be straightforward. Every extra symbol, every extra style, every extra pattern you have in your system is a point that introduces doubt down the chain, and may lead to different decisions, breaking consistency and making your system fail.

Keeping our files clean is not a “good practice” anymore. It’s a must. To ensure consistency. To make our designs and systems work.

But let’s face it. It is extremely easy to mess things up in a design file 🙈:

  • It’s quite easy to get duplicate symbols and styles when using stuff from other design files or when doing certain actions (usually involving copy&paste or duplicate) in Sketch.
  • You may have the same (or similar) symbols and styles defined in your design system library and in your local files.
  • When several designers collaborate in a design (or a library), you have a high risk of creating redundant stuff (just because it’s hard that all designers are aware of everything that exists already in the system).
  • And the one that scares me the most. You can have similar symbols, patterns, and styles locally and in linked libraries. So similar that you couldn’t tell the difference.

Having duplicate, similar, or inconsistent symbols or styles in your design files is considered design debt.

You know what comes next. “Inconsistency” is a polite way to call it. It’s a symbol and style mess. It’s hard to manage. Hard to use. Hard to teach. Hard to prevent collaborators (or even yourself) for creating new redundant stuff. Hard to use and evangelize the design system across the company.

And it’s a maintainability nightmare.

We all know we should address it but (excuse coming) → fixing it takes a huge amount of time and lots and lots of boring and stupid work, so we keep postponing and postponing it forever…

And this is why we built :)

Merge Duplicates

is a Sketch plugin to help cleaning design files and libraries and achieve cleanness and consistency, and do it in a breeze:

  • Keep your design files clean and get rid of all duplicate, inconsistent and unnecessary symbols and styles.
  • Make it easy to sync your design files with your linked libraries and design systems.

And btw, just got a cool UI update. Check it out!

Merge Duplicates just got a brand new UI

Merge duplicate symbols

Merge Duplicates will find automatically symbols with the same name and ask you what to do with them, including linked libraries. Choose the one you want to keep and hit Merge. The other symbols will be removed, and all their instances will be replaced by the one you chose, while keeping overrides.

It may be useful to:

  • Clean your files of duplicate / redundant symbols
  • Sync with linked libraries (and remove local symbols that are already defined in the library).
How to find and merge duplicate symbols. Design is by .

Merge selected symbols

Select manually the symbols you’d like to merge, choose which one you want to keep, and hit Merge. The other symbols will be removed, and all their instances will be replaced by the one you chose, while keeping overrides.

It may be useful to:

  • Clean your files of duplicate / redundant symbols, independently of their name.
  • If you did several explorations for the same design, choose the one you decided to go for and the rest will be removed and replaced by the right one.
How to merge selected symbols. Design is by .

Merge duplicate styles (layer & text styles)

Similar to Merge duplicate symbols, but with layer styles or text styles. It will find automatically duplicated layer or text styles, and ask you which you want to keep. The other styles will be removed, and all layers or texts using them will now use the one you chose to keep.

It may be useful to:

  • Get rid of duplicated duplicate / redundant layer or text styles
  • Sync with linked libraries (and remove local styles that are already defined in the library).
How to find and merge duplicate text styles. Design is by .

Merge styles from list (layer & text styles)

Similar to “Merge selected symbols”, but with styles. Select any styles from the local file and/or linked libraries and merge them. Choose the one to keep. The other styles will be removed, and all layers or texts using them will now use the one you chose to keep.

It may be useful to:

  • Clean your files of duplicate / redundant styles, independently of their name.
  • If you are aware of some existing similar styles (in the local file or between local file and a library), choose the one you decided to keep and the rest will be removed and replaced by it.
How to merge selected layer styles. Design is by .

Merge similar styles (layer & text styles)

Merge similar styles will look for styles that share the same attributes and ask you which of them you want to keep. Choose the attributes you’d like to compare and let the plugin find similar styles for you.

It may be useful for:

  • Finding similar styles (including linked libraries), deciding which style to keep, and get rid of redundant and inconsistent styles.
How to find and merge similar styles. Design is by

Bonus tip 💡

It’s quite easy to have unstyled text layers in your design files. scans your Sketch files for unstyled text layers and looks which of the existing styles (in the file or in linked libraries) match best for them, making it easier to reach consistency.

assigns styles automatically to all of your unstyled layers.

Conclusions

It is quite easy to have duplicate, inconsistent, and unnecessary symbols and styles in your design libraries and design files, and to lose consistency within your whole design or ecosystem.

Hopefully will help you notice all the elements that may be causing issues and help you maintain your files clean and go back to consistency.

That’s all, folks! Hope it helps!

Design + Sketch

The best collection of articles, tips, tutorials, and…

Design + Sketch

The best collection of articles, tips, tutorials, and stories on designing and prototyping with Sketch and beyond

Oscar Oto

Written by

Oscar Oto

I design and build software. Also write about UX and design techniques, and build Sketch plugins sometimes. You may also know me as oodesign.

Design + Sketch

The best collection of articles, tips, tutorials, and stories on designing and prototyping with Sketch and beyond

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