Illustrator Error Message When Opening a File: “Illegal or misplaced operator”

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This message can mean that information in the file has gotten corrupted. Typically it can indicate that a color or pattern swatch has gotten corrupted.

These workflows can possibly help recover some of the file information: Look in the lines of the message to see the name of the corrupted swatch. If possible, after the file opens in Illustrator, check the Swatches window and remove that swatch. Save the file and try to reopen it. If the file opens but looks blank, zoom all the way out and check to see if there is any artwork in the top left corner of the artwork. Try opening the file in Acrobat and re-save it there. If Acrobat does not want to open the file as an Illustrator file, manually change the extension of the file name from .ai to .pdf and then open the file in Acrobat, save the file, and then open in Illustrator. Try opening the file in Photoshop to retain some the artwork. Make a new Illustrator document and place the corrupted file into the new document.

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