4 Easy Ways To Outline Text In Illustrator

In this guide, you will learn in-depth how to outline text in Illustrator. Let’s get on with it!

how to outline text in illustrator

How to Outline Text In Illustrator (Quick Tip)

To outline text in Illustrator, select all text boxes by using keyboard shortcuts Command + A on Mac or Ctrl + A for Windows, and press Command + Shift + O for Mac or Ctrl + Shift + O for Windows.

Or right-click on your text box and select Create Outlines from the pop-up menu. Or select Type > Create Outlines from the top menu.

Or select Object > Expand from the top menu, then make sure Object and Fill are selected in the Expand options. Then click the OK button.

create outlines for text letter A or convert to vector shape
Live text converted to a vector shape

Wondering What Is Outline Text?

The word “Outline” can mean different things in Adobe Illustrator. It can mean making an outline or a border around the edge of the text, usually with a stroke color that stands out from the text-filled color.

Or, it can mean Outline Mode, which is how you wish to preview your artwork in Illustrator.

As for the meaning of Outline in this guide, it has to do with converting live text into vector objects or text characters that can’t be edited with the Type Tool.

You can only edit outlined font by moving, adding, or deleting anchor points and vector paths with path tools like the Direct Selection Tool, and Pen Tool.

Outlining text also refers to vectorizing text in Illustrator. This shape can be manipulated using Illustrator’s various tools to make it into a design element. This process is also known as Create Outlines.

Why Do I Need to Outline Fonts in Illustrator?

  1. Outlining text is useful when you want to create a custom font, modify individual characters, or add special effects to your text. You can’t do the same creative techniques to live text.
  2. There are fonts with licensing restrictions that can’t be embedded. Other than packaging font files with the Illustrator file to send to clients and printers, the other way to preserve your artwork appearance is to outline fonts.
embedding font display error in Illustrator
Notification to say font can’t be embedded due to licensing restrictions

If you don’t need to manipulate the text and don’t wish to convert your font to a vector object, you can embed the font instead to preserve the editable text, provided the font doesn’t have licensing restrictions.

How to Outline Text In Illustrator

Before using any of the methods below to outline text, the first thing to do is to duplicate your artwork that includes all live text. There are two ways to do this:

  1. Save another file with the exact same artwork as a backup
  2. Select the whole artwork, then copy and paste it outside your artboard

Next, you will have to select the text boxes you wish to outline.

You can’t outline selected text that is highlighted within the text box. But you can Select All including shapes, objects, and text.

Nothing will happen to the images and objects (except if you use the Expand method). It’s just for your convenience to Select All without having to pick out individual text manually.

Select everything on your artboard by clicking on Select in the top menu. If you have your duplicated artwork with live text outside your artboard, you wouldn’t want to include that in the selection.

In this case, select All on the active board in the drop-down menu. Illustrator will automatically select everything that’s on the artboard only.

select all on active artboard - how to outline text in illustrator

Method 1: Create Outlines from Top Menu

Select Type from the top menu and select Create Outlines from the drop-down menu.

create outlines for text from Type menu

Or select Type > Create Outlines.

Your text will immediately be converted to vector format.

Method 2: Right-Click Text Box

Bring your cursor over the text box and right-click on it.

right-click on text box to select create outlines in popup menu
In the pop-up box that appears, select Create Outlines.

Method 3: Keyboard Shortcuts

Use keyboard shortcut keys Shift + Command + O for Mac.

Create Outlines in Illustrator with keyboard shortcut shift command O

Or Shift + Ctrl + O for Windows.

Create Outlines in Illustrator with keyboard shortcut shift ctrl O on Windows

Method 4: Expand

When using the Expand method, you will have to individually select the text boxes you wish to convert to vectors.

Related: How to Expand Text In Adobe Illustrator

The Expand function can change the properties of strokes or borders around objects too. If you don’t wish for that to happen, you should not select everything you have on your artboard.

Select only the text boxes you want to Expand by holding down the Shift key and clicking on each of the text boxes one time. Then, select Object from the top menu and select Expand from the drop-down menu.

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

Check the Object and Fill options in the Expand section of the Expand dialog box. Then click the OK button.

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

Tips and FAQ on Outline Text In Illustrator

Is there a quick way to outline all text in Illustrator?

The quickest way to outline all text in Illustrator is to use keyboard shortcuts Command + A for Mac or Ctrl + A for Windows. All objects and images in and out of the artboard will also be selected together with the text in one step. Then, use keyboard shortcuts Shift + Command + O for Mac or Shift + Ctrl + O for Windows to Create Outlines for all text.

How to Create Outlines in Illustrator

You can easily Create Outlines in Illustrator by first clicking your text frame to select it. Then, right-click on the text frame and select Create Outlines. Your editable text will now become a pathed or vector object.

Final Thoughts: How to Outline Text in Illustrator

Outlining text is a common practice especially when you have to send your artwork to the print shop. It eliminates much-unwanted stress and drama especially when you are fighting against time to complete production and deliver your work promptly.

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