3 Easy Steps To Expand Text In Adobe Illustrator

In this article, you’ll discover everything you need to know about Expanding text in Adobe Illustrator — from the difference between Create Outlines and Expanding text, why you need to expand text, and how to do it. Let’s dive in!

How to expand text in Adobe Illustrator

What’s The Difference Between Create Outlines And Expand In Illustrator?

Create Outlines is meant to only convert text to shapes, but not able to do anything on shapes. Expand can be used to convert text to shapes and also convert strokes or outlines into shapes.

If you only want to embed text or convert it to vector format that doesn’t reduce its DPI when enlarged, you can use both the Create Outlines and Expand functions. But if you wish to turn a single path stroke into a shape, you will have to use the Expand tool.

The difference between Create Outlines and Expand text in Illustrator is seen only when you apply them to text with outline strokes. Create Outlines cannot change or do anything to the strokes on the text, but Expand can expand a stroke such that the path becomes a shape. Here’s an example:

Single path create outlines stroke - how to expand text in adobe illustrator
You can only create a single path with Create Outlines
expand stroke shape - how to expand text in adobe illustrator
Expand a text with an outline stroke twice and you get a shape outline
💡 For a complete guide on how to make text bigger, check out How To Enlarge Text In Adobe Illustrator.

Why do I need to expand text in Adobe?

Similar to Creating Outlines on text, Expand text also vectorizes the text in Illustrator. This allows you to share your Illustrator file with others without having to transfer the fonts to them. There’s also no risk of them opening an Ai file with missing fonts.

Expanded text also allows you to apply special effects and styles that cannot be applied to regular text objects. Here are some scenarios that will require you to Expand text:

Scenario 1: stroked outline

If you have a text object that has an outline stroke and you want the stroke to change in size proportionately while you change the whole text size, you will want to expand the text first. Expanding the text with single path strokes converts outline strokes to vector shapes.

Otherwise, the stroke thickness will stay the same even if the text becomes bigger or smaller.

showing outline strokes becoming thicker and thinner when change in size - how to expand text in adobe illustrator
If the outline stroke is not converted to shape, it will look thicker when the text is made smaller and look thinner when made bigger.
Thickness of outline stroke stays the same when bigger or smaller after using Expand text - how to expand text in adobe illustrator
With Expanded text, the outline stroke becomes a shape and stays the same size when the text is made smaller or bigger.

Scenario 2: Change The Font Design

You will want to convert your text to a path with anchor points so that you can customize the look of the text which otherwise can’t be done when it’s an editable live text.

Related: Adobe Illustrator Anchor Points Not Showing

You can use the Pen Tool and Direct Selection Tool (the white arrow) from the Toolbar to select individual path points. This is one of the ways on how to manipulate text in Illustrator.

use direct selection tool to adjust path point - how to expand text in adobe illustrator
Use the Direct Selection Tool to adjust path point

Scenario 3: Embed Text With Envelope Distort Effect

You will want to Expand text if you’ve used any effect like the Warp feature from the Envelope Distort option and want to embed the font onto the file. The Expand tool helps to convert it to a vector format.

Create Outlines will be able to convert it, but it will shift the converted text and you will have to adjust it to get it back to the original position. The Expand tool comes into good use here for text to keep it in position.

Steps to Expand Text in Adobe Illustrator

Get started by opening Adobe Illustrator on your computer. Then create a new document by selecting File > New from the menu bar.

Choose the size and other settings for your document and click “Create.” Next, select the Type Tool from the Toolbar and type out your text on the artboard.

Adjust your font size via the Character panel and the fill color from the Swatches panel. Then, follow the simple steps on how to Expand text in Adobe Illustrator:

Step 1: Select the text

The first thing to do is to use the Selection Tool (the black arrow) to select the text you want to expand by clicking on it once.

selection tool - how to expand text in adobe illustrator

Step 2: Convert Text to Vector

Next, open the Expand options, by selecting Object on the top menu bar, then select Expand. Or select Object > Expand.

select expand from object in top menu bar - how to expand text in adobe illustrator

Make sure Object and Fill are selected in the Expand section. Then click the OK button.

select object and fill - how to expand text in adobe illustrator

You can also convert the text to vector by using Create Outlines. Select Type in the top menu and select Create Outlines. Or go to Type > Create Outlines.

Step 3: Convert Stroke to Shape

Select Object > Expand one more time. This time, make sure Fill and Stroke are selected. Then click the OK button.

select fill and stroke - how to expand text in adobe illustrator

You have now successfully expanded text in Adobe Illustrator!

Apply Special Effects or Styles

If you want to go a step further to adjust the shape, select and Ungroup the whole object by going to Object in the top menu and selecting Ungroup.

Or select Object > Ungroup. You can also use the keyboard shortcut Shift + Command + G for Mac.

Or Shift + Ctrl + G for Windows.

Repeat the ungrouping step once more.

Try moving the ungrouped layers. You will see that you can separate the filled stroke or outline shape from the main object.

separate stroke shape from text - how to expand text in adobe illustrator

You can now apply any special effects or styles to it. You can use the various tools in Illustrator, such as the Pathfinder tool, to create unique shapes and designs.

Tips & FAQ

Tips for Expanding Text in Adobe Illustrator

Here are some tips to keep in mind while expanding text in Adobe Illustrator:

  • Always create a backup of your original text before expanding it, because once expanded, it can’t be edited like live text.
  • When expanding text, make sure to ungroup it to edit individual elements.

Why Can’t I Expand Text In Illustrator?

There could be several reasons why you are unable to Expand text in Adobe Illustrator. Here’s why:

1. The text was not selected: If the text is not selected, the Expand option will be grayed out. Click on the text once with the Selection Tool then try to select the Expand option again.

2. The text is part of a group: If the text is part of a group, you will not be able to expand it directly. You need to ungroup the text first. Select the text and then choose Object > Ungroup from the menu.

3. The font is not supported: Some fonts may not be supported by Illustrator and cannot be expanded. Try changing the font to a supported one and then Expand it.

4. The text is already expanded: If the text is already expanded, you will not be able to Expand it further. Check if the text has already been expanded by selecting it and looking at the Appearance panel. If the panel shows no options for expanding the text, then it has already been expanded.

How Do I Stretch Part of Text In Illustrator?

The best way to stretch part of a text in Illustrator is to first convert the text to a vector object by clicking on it once, go to Type > Create Outlines. Then, switch to the Direct Selection Tool (shortcut key is ‘A‘). Click on any of the path points and drag it to stretch that part of the text.

Where is the expand option in Illustrator?

The Expand option in Adobe Illustrator is located within the Control Panel at the top of the application window. You can use it to convert object fills and strokes into actual objects or to convert text into shapes. Here’s how to find and use the Expand feature:

  1. Select the object or text that you want to expand.
  2. Go to the main menu at the top of your screen.
  3. Click on Object. This will open a dropdown menu.
  4. From the dropdown menu, select Expand. A new dialog box will appear.
  5. In the dialog box, you can choose whether to expand the object’s fill, stroke, or both. You can also control the settings related to how your object is expanded.
  6. After making your selections, click OK to apply the changes.

Please note that if the Expand option is greyed out, it means the selected object or text cannot be expanded, probably because it has already been expanded, or it’s a type of object that doesn’t support this feature.

Final Thoughts

The Expand tool in Adobe Illustrator can be a useful technique for creating unique designs and styles for both text and objects.

By following the steps mentioned above, you can quickly Expand your text and apply any effect or style to it.

Remember to keep a backup of your original text and avoid scaling it after expanding it. With these tips and tricks, you can take your design game to the next level.

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