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Convert Text to Outlines using Illustrator

Adobe Employee ,
Oct 01, 2020

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Wondering what is “Outlined” text? What is the use of outlined text in Illustrator when effects can be applied easily on Live text?

An outlined text/font is a vector shape, created by tracing the live text. Once a text is converted to outline, editing/changing font size is not possible. It would behave like a shape created by Pen/pencil tool.

 

Why should I outline my text?

  • Outlined text can be scaled infinitely without any loss of image quality.
  • Your text will appear smooth and crisp at any size or resolution
  • Font designers may want to protect their copyright.
  • You will be able to open and print your artwork even if you don’t have the actual font used in the document installed on your machine.
  • There are occasions when you are forced to use a commercial printer which requires outlined fonts. In some cases, a printer may not have the font which is used in your document. By converting text to a vector, it can be printed from anywhere.
  • Occasionally you may find fonts that do not allow embedding, in that case you might have to outline the font before sending it for Print.
  • You can also re-shape the text in creative ways.

 

How to outline text in Illustrator:

  • Select the text with Selection tool.
  • Choose Type > Create Outlines to convert the text to editable paths.
  •  Select the Text > Right Click and then Select Create Outlines.
  • Keyboard shortcut – Win – Shift+Control+O, macOS – Shift+Cmd+O
  • Click the Ungroup button in the Properties panel to be able to move the letters independently.
  • Your text is ready to be edited as per your choice.

 

Reshaping text.gif

 

Limitations:

  • Once text is outlined and the file is saved and closed, it cannot be converted back to Text.
  • You lose the ability to edit it quickly with the Type tool.
  • If you receive a file with outlined text, Illustrator may not be able to recognize which font was used initially and you would not be able to edit text if required.  This generally happens with the files purchased from Adobe Stock/ Shutterstock. Designers may not want to share the font.

 

 

Best Practices:

  • Before you outline the fonts, you should first save your file as a separate document. This way you would have your backup document available. You can use the outlined one as your design file, and the original one as a backup.
  • If you are sharing/ selling your files on Adobe Stock/ Shutterstock, add a note on the Pasteboard with the name of the font used, so that users may license/install the font if required. 

 

 

TOPICS
Draw and design, How to, Type

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Convert Text to Outlines using Illustrator

Adobe Employee ,
Oct 01, 2020

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Wondering what is “Outlined” text? What is the use of outlined text in Illustrator when effects can be applied easily on Live text?

An outlined text/font is a vector shape, created by tracing the live text. Once a text is converted to outline, editing/changing font size is not possible. It would behave like a shape created by Pen/pencil tool.

 

Why should I outline my text?

  • Outlined text can be scaled infinitely without any loss of image quality.
  • Your text will appear smooth and crisp at any size or resolution
  • Font designers may want to protect their copyright.
  • You will be able to open and print your artwork even if you don’t have the actual font used in the document installed on your machine.
  • There are occasions when you are forced to use a commercial printer which requires outlined fonts. In some cases, a printer may not have the font which is used in your document. By converting text to a vector, it can be printed from anywhere.
  • Occasionally you may find fonts that do not allow embedding, in that case you might have to outline the font before sending it for Print.
  • You can also re-shape the text in creative ways.

 

How to outline text in Illustrator:

  • Select the text with Selection tool.
  • Choose Type > Create Outlines to convert the text to editable paths.
  •  Select the Text > Right Click and then Select Create Outlines.
  • Keyboard shortcut – Win – Shift+Control+O, macOS – Shift+Cmd+O
  • Click the Ungroup button in the Properties panel to be able to move the letters independently.
  • Your text is ready to be edited as per your choice.

 

Reshaping text.gif

 

Limitations:

  • Once text is outlined and the file is saved and closed, it cannot be converted back to Text.
  • You lose the ability to edit it quickly with the Type tool.
  • If you receive a file with outlined text, Illustrator may not be able to recognize which font was used initially and you would not be able to edit text if required.  This generally happens with the files purchased from Adobe Stock/ Shutterstock. Designers may not want to share the font.

 

 

Best Practices:

  • Before you outline the fonts, you should first save your file as a separate document. This way you would have your backup document available. You can use the outlined one as your design file, and the original one as a backup.
  • If you are sharing/ selling your files on Adobe Stock/ Shutterstock, add a note on the Pasteboard with the name of the font used, so that users may license/install the font if required. 

 

 

TOPICS
Draw and design, How to, Type

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Oct 01, 2020 5
Most Valuable Participant ,
Oct 02, 2020

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Instead of working with a duplicate file, you can duplicate the artboard, keep it in a distance, that items outside are not affected and then you can outline it. If you make changes in other items and color swatches you can do it in the editable version simulanously, if you work with global swatches it will do it automatically.

 

If you need to outline for production purposes, like for cutting plotters, save as PDF/X-4 and do the outlining in Acrobat Pro.

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Oct 02, 2020 4
Adobe Community Professional ,
Oct 02, 2020

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"If you need to outline for production purposes, like for cutting plotters, save as PDF/X-4 and do the outlining in Acrobat Pro."

 

That is not a good idea. If you outline for plotting then you absolutely need to check the result (if it is clean and all paths are closed - we all know about crappy fonts) and you probably need to do further editing like combining paths orcleaning up overlaps. So you need to do that in Illustrator.

 

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Oct 02, 2020 4
Adobe Community Professional ,
Oct 02, 2020

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In addition to your excellent points about outlining fonts, I would add that outlining fonts is rarely needed in a modern workflow. Drawbacks include reduced quality on-screen viewing (type hinting is lost, "i" & "l" may appear bold), Text will no longer be searchable or ADA compliant, some type may not outline properly, particularly underlines or dicy fonts, the pdf will be harder to edit. I also wanted to point out that editing an Illustrator PDF in Acrobat can break it. That said, using an Acrobat preflight profile to outline fonts is one of the safest ways to do it with non-Illustrator PDFs.

Why should I outline my text?

  • Outlined text can be scaled infinitely without any loss of image quality. Same for live type.
  • Your text will appear smooth and crisp at any size or resolution. Live type is generally superior for on-screen viewing.
  • Font designers may want to protect their copyright.
  • You will be able to open and print your artwork even if you don’t have the actual font used in the document installed on your machine. True for .ai files (which can be packaged like InDesign files), PDFs with embedded fonts do not need the font installed on the machine for viewing or printing.
  • There are occasions when you are forced to use a commercial printer which requires outlined fonts. In some cases, a printer may not have the font which is used in your document. By converting text to a vector, it can be printed from anywhere. This is less common than it was 20 years ago, most commercial printers accept PDFs.
  • Occasionally you may find fonts that do not allow embedding, in that case you might have to outline the font before sending it for Print. If a font cannot be embedded, it also might not allow outlining, in this case, using an Acrobat preflight to outline fonts, or using a different font, might be the only options.
  • You can also re-shape the text in creative ways.

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Oct 02, 2020 2
Enthusiast ,
Oct 02, 2020

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Converting text to outlines in graphic designs will help artwork be more portable and easier to archive for long term use and re-use. When a design contains active text objects the same exact font files used to create that design must be present on the computer to avoid font substitution issues. Problems may arise if the file is opened on a different computer, or a computer on another OS platform. We all eventually replace our computers. A new computer will often have different fonts installed, or even newer yet different versions of same name fonts. The versions of Arial or Times New Roman in a brand new Windows 10 PC will be different than those from a vintage computer running Windows XP. It's possible for an operating system to remove support for a font format. In the 1990's Type 1 Multiple Master fonts were somewhat popular, but they required the use of Adobe Type Manager, which was discontinued. Now the Multiple Master concept has returned with Variable Fonts. Documents containing Variable Font based text objects can only be opened in newer generations of graphics software.

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Oct 02, 2020 0
Adobe Employee ,
Oct 02, 2020

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Thank you so much everyone for adding your suggestions. This will surely help our users.

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Oct 02, 2020 1
Adobe Community Professional ,
Oct 14, 2020

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I advocate for outlining fonts for version control, client interaction and general portability purposes.

 

  • I keep my original Adobe Illustrator file for in-house work/updating. My .ai file never leaves the house. That file will contain live font information, and I will keep a dated, version- and date-named copy of each generation for the duration of the job. I will also output a .eps file for the client with outlined font information, and provide a .pdf file for proofing, based on the EPS, for client review and comments. At the end of the job, I keep the PDFs for each version for administration/billing support, and dispatch all but the latest version of the AI and EPS files for the client.
  • The client only gets the PDF files of each generation for review/comments, and the outlined EPS for the final approved version of the job, provided it isn't full o' type. In which case, I'd prefer to create it with InDesign anyway. It greatly reduces the potential of the work getting messed up by clients and drive-by amateur designers. If the client needs SVGs/pixel-based version of the job for digital distribution, I'm happy to provide those too.
  • I emphasize that the files I provide the client are provided for reproduction use. The outlined PDFs are perfectly portable for most any in-house use, and while I know some here consider the use of outlined EPS files as rather quaint and antiquated, they are still the universal currency for reproducing graphics by vendors, large and small, for a wide range of purposes.

 

Outlined EPS files serve many masters. And serve faithfully, universally for the broadest range of output needs. Still. I recommend them highly.

 

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Oct 14, 2020 0
New Here ,
Oct 17, 2020

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Randy,

I liked your reply on this subject.

 

I was also hoping you might have an answer to my Illustator question:

I have transitioned from CS6 to CC2020. In the old days, if I clicked on a shape (on a corner, for instance) with the solid selection arrow, all corners were filled in and the object could be moved without distortion. With CC2020 it seems I need to grab the center point or a point on the shape outline to move it. Otherwise it wants to automatically scale or rotate the object I selected. My goal is to grab the corner and then use that corner to align with (jump to) a point of another object. 

Can you provide an explanation or technique for moving shapes in a similar fashion to CS6 by selecting a corner point of the object being moved while maintaining the original shape and rotational orientation?

 

Thank you.

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Oct 17, 2020 0
Adobe Community Professional ,
Oct 18, 2020

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Your interpretation is correct.

 

To move something now, you need to select it with the Black Arrow/Selection Tool and either click-drag it from the frame, away from the anchor points, or by placing your cursor directly inside a filled element of the art and dragging from there. To move it for alignment with other object(s), you want to turn on Smart Guides and use these handy tools to make your life easier.

 

You can find out more about using Smart Guides here:

 

Using Guides and Grids with Illustrator

 

There's a specific setion on how to use smart guides to quick-align graphic elements you're working with. But there's also a great overview of how to work with all the upgraded guide and grid features found in Illustrator CC. If you're up for the graduate course, check out the options for designing along 2D and 3D perspective grids. Fall down this rabbit hole and you'll be way ahead of drawing scalable work with Adobe Illustrator CC.

 

Hope this helps you, 

 

Randy

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Oct 18, 2020 0