Tutorials How to Outline Fonts in Illustrator

How to Outline Fonts in Illustrator

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Reading this tutorial, I am sure you’re asking yourself two questions: what is outlining a font and why do we need to outline?

When I first, started as a graphic designer, I didn’t know how important it was to outline text. Outlining text is not visible in the final artwork but is essential to any design.

It helps maintain your design’s integrity across different devices and software since not everyone will have the fonts you used installed on their device. Additionally, outlining text allows for more editing options.

In this tutorial, I’ll guide you through a few steps to outline. There are 3 main ways to outline text in Adobe Illustrator. I will also show you ways to use your outline and what you can do with it. 

Let’s get started!

Let’s open a fresh document in Adobe Illustrator and select your preferred size document. There aren’t any specific document size values for this practice tutorial.

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What is to outline text?

When you outline text, you convert the text into vector shapes. This means that the text is no longer editable as text, but becomes an object composed of paths and anchor points. 

This is particularly useful when you need to ensure that the text appears the same, regardless of whether the recipient has the specific font installed on their system.

Let’s start by selecting the Type Tool (T). Pick the font you like. I chose “Oswald”, and wrote DYNAMIC in capital letters. 

Let’s outline it! 

There is more than one way to outline text. 

The simplest way is with the shortcut Shift + Command + O, or Ctrl + Shift + O for Windows users. This is a method, I use all the time!

Your word is now a shape with anchor points. 

You can also right-click on the selected word > outline

One lesser-known method is from the overhead menu (Type > Create Outlines). But, the first two are my favorite.  

You can now edit the word, change colors, or even create a new font. With the Direct Selection Tool (A), grab an anchor point and make the edges rounder. 

The edges are now rounder. Grab the Shear Tool for a cool effect. Click anywhere on the object. You’ll have a dynamic shape! 

Copy and paste the word, move the copy to the top, and make the original word darker underneath it. 

Go ahead and add another text underneath it. I wrote Live Long. You will have to outline this one, too.  

Add a cool background. There you go! 

What to keep in mind 

Outlining text lets you use effects and modifications that aren’t possible with editable text. You can adjust anchor points and add gradients, textures, or distortions.

You will need to outline fonts to ensure that the text appears correctly before printing. Keep a backup of your original text in case you need to make edits later. 

Outlining text gives you so many creative options. You can mix text with other graphics, fix spacing, align things perfectly, and create unique lettering effects that make your designs look more polished. 

Have fun! 

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