5 Easy Ways to Underline Text in Illustrator

You’re in the right place to discover everything you need to know about how to underline text in Illustrator.

how to underline text in illustrator

Why Underline Text in Illustrator?

The effect of underlining text is similar to creating bold text and making text outlines with strokes. Doing so helps to highlight selected text in a paragraph, especially in a text-heavy design.

Making a text underline can liven up your text that can be rather boring to read. This can grab a reader’s attention more than when words have the same character style.

sample of business card underline text name from Envato Elements
The name Oliver James in this name card looks more outstanding with a text underline. (Photo: Modern Business Card Illustrator template via Envato Elements)

Most people are busy and may not wish to read every single word they see. They prefer to scan through the page as fast as they can.

If you have a sales landing page or any marketing material to convert visitors to customers, underlining important keywords can help your audience focus only on what they have to know.

Here’s an example of what a stylized underline is like on Jasper’s website:

Jasper website title underline
The words “with AI” stand out more with the stylized underline. (Photo: Screenshot of homepage via Jasper)

On the flip side, you wouldn’t want to only use the underline feature the whole time on the landing page.

Some variations will be good, such as highlighting some words with a colored shape. Adding bullet points instead of long paragraphs also makes your content more engaging and easier to read.

Underlining keywords improves user experience and it’s a way for you to use your content to do the heavy lifting of convincing your audience to take action.

Giving them to read long lines of text despite perfect text alignment can cause their eyes to tire easily and stop reading your content sooner.

Here’s another example of an underlined text in ConvertKit’s homepage:

screenshot of Convertkit homepage with underline text
Photo: Screenshot of homepage via ConvertKit

Let’s have a look at some examples here, and you can see the difference in the emphasis of the text before and after they have been underlined.

Before Adding Underline

Graphic design landing page header title text without underline
Graphic design landing page header title text without underline

After Adding Underline

After adding underline to graphic design landing page header title text
After adding underline to graphic design landing page header title text

5 Easy Ways to Underline Text in Illustrator

The best way to underline text in Illustrator is to first select the text frame or highlight the text you want to underline.

Then, select Window > Type > Character from the top menu to open the Character panel. Go to the second last section of the Character panel, and select the underline button that shows the letter “T” with a line under it, like this: T.

a letter T with arrow pointing to another letter T with and underline in adobe illustrator
Adding underline to letter T

There isn’t just one way to underline your text object in Illustrator. It’s all up to your creativity and Illustrator offers all the tools you need to craft all kinds of underlining styles and patterns you need to make your words pop!

Here are the methods you can use to underline text in Illustrator:

1. Underline Tool

A simple way to underline your text is to use the Underline tool in Illustrator. Here are the steps to using the underline feature.

Step 1: Select Your Text

If you want to underline individual words from a text bounding box or text frame among many other words, select the Type tool from the toolbar. Or press “T” on the keyboard.

select Text tool from toolbar in Illustrator
Select Text tool from Toolbar

Then, select your text by using the Type cursor to click, and drag only the individual words to be underlined one at a time. They are considered selected if they are highlighted.

highlight selected text in one text frame in Illustrator

If you wish to underline all text in a text frame, select the whole text frame by clicking on it once. This will allow all words in the text frame to be underlined in one go.

select the whole text frame by clicking on it once

Step 2: Select Underline Tool In the Character Panel

The Underline tool can be found in the Character panel, and there are a few ways to access the Character panel before you can use the Underline tool. Here are a few ways to open the Character panel:

1. Keyboard Shortcut

With your text selected, open the Character panel by using the keyboard shortcut Command + T for Mac.

Open Character panel with keyboard shortcuts command and T - how to enlarge text in Adobe Illustrator

Or Ctrl + T for Windows.

Open Character panel with keyboard shortcuts ctrl and T - how to enlarge text in Adobe Illustrator

2. Top Menu

Another way to open the Character panel is to select Window in the top menu. Then, select Type from the drop-down menu and Character from the Type menu. Or select Window > Type > Character.

select character from window and type menu

3. Control Panel

The Control panel is usually visible above your Illustrator document. With your text selected, an option that says “Character” will appear in the Control panel. Select the Character option and the Character options flyout menu will open up.

open character flyout options from control panel

4. Properties Panel

Open the Properties panel by selecting Window in the top menu, then select Properties in the drop-down menu. Or select Window > Properties.

open properties panel from window top menu

The Properties panel will open on the right-hand side of your Illustrator document. You will see a Character section just above the Paragraph panel within the Properties panel.

Then, select the three dots at the bottom of the Character section which will expand to the full Character palette with more options.

select character options in properties panel

Once you’ve opened the Character panel via the above methods, go to the bottom of the Character panel and click on the button with the underline icon that looks like this T. It has a letter “T” that’s underlined, representing the button as the Underline tool.

select underline button in character panel

2. Line Segment Tool

Select the Line Segment tool by using the keyboard shortcut key, \. Or select the line icon on the toolbar.

select line segment tool from toolbar

Hold down the Shift key, click on one side of the text that you wish to underline, then drag the cursor to where you want to end the underline. Then, let go of the cursor.

Next, open the Appearance panel by selecting Window in the top menu and selecting Appearance in the drop-down menu. Or select Window > Appearance.

open appearance panel in Illustrator

Select the underline, then go to the Stroke section in the Appearance panel to style your underline.

Change the stroke weight by changing the value in the field next to the word Stroke. You can make it as thick or thin as you want to.

Next is to give your underline a color. Open the Swatches panel by double-clicking the border stroke icon. Then, select the color you like your underline to be.

change stroke weight value in appearance panel of Illustrator

If you want to customize the stroke more, you can do that by clicking on the word Stroke, and more Stroke options will appear in a drop-down.

select strokes options in appearance panel

3. Pen Tool

Select the Pen tool by using the keyboard shortcut key, P. Or select the pen icon on the toolbar.

Next, similar to using the Line Segment tool, hold down the Shift key, and click on where you’d like the underline to start. Then, click on the other end of where you’d like the underline to end.

You will see a line forming under your text. Next, you will see that there’s a line still connected to the last anchor point of the Pen tool. This line moves wherever the Pen tool goes.

To disconnect and end the use of the Pen tool, just press Command (Mac) or Ctrl (Windows) on the keyboard and click any empty area once. The cursor changes to the Direct Selection tool and the line disappears.

press command or ctrl and click the cursor on artboard to remove pen tool

You can also create different underline styles with the Pen tool. Instead of creating only one straight thin line, you can add more anchor points and create an odd shape to be the underline.

use pen tool to create underline shape

4. Rectangle Tool

You can also use the Rectangle tool to create an underline effect by drawing geometrical shapes. It can be just a simple rectangle if you wish. Select the Rectangle tool from the toolbar, or press the M key. Then draw a rectangle with your cursor.

select rectangle tool from toolbar

Add some color to it by selecting a fill color from the Appearance panel. Then, adjust the thickness of the rectangle to be as thin or thick as you like.

change color and thickness of rectangle

You can also use the Shear tool to change the shape. Make sure the shape is selected with the Selection tool. Then, go to the toolbar to select the Shear tool.

select shear tool from toolbar

With the Shear tool cursor, bring it next to the selected shape, then click once and drag your cursor to one side. You will see your shape changing with the movement of the cursor.

Once you are satisfied with your underline shape, you can adjust the position of the shape layer.

In this example here, I shifted the shape up to have it across the text and arranged the position by selecting the option “Sending it backward” so that it appears at the back of the text layer.

shear rectangle shape to underline text in AI

5. Paintbrush Tool

I love using this method to create underlines for CTA (Call-To-Action) buttons, they do make sales pages more attractive and people are more inclined to click them.

In this method, select the Paintbrush tool from the toolbar. Or press B on the keyboard.

select paintbrush tool from toolbar

Then, select Window > Properties to open the Properties panel. Go to the Brushes section in the Properties panel.

Click on the arrow pointing down to view various brush options. You can create your own brush by selecting the New Brush+” button at the bottom of the Brushes options box.

select and create brush in illustrator properties panel

The New Brush dialog box opens up. Select the type of brush you want and click the OK button.

With your Brush cursor, click once and drag it across under your text to create a brush-like underline. Adjust the stroke thickness of the underline in the Appearance section of the Properties panel.

adjust stroke thickness in appearance properties panel

Next, duplicate the underline and put one aside as a backup. Then, convert the other one into a filled object so that you can change its color or add a gradient.

To do this, select the underline object, select Window in the top menu, and select Expand Appearance. Now it’s not a stroke anymore, but a filled shape.

convert stroke to filled shape with expand appearance

Then, go to the Swatches panel to change its color.

In this example, I’ve used the Eyedropper tool from the toolbar to pick out colors from the underline on the Jasper.ai homepage. Then, I added the colors from the Swatches panel to create a gradient underline.

add gradient colors to fill underline

FAQ to Underline Text In Illustrator

How To Change The Underline Stroke In Illustrator

There are times when you want the line under the text or underline to be in a different color so that the text can be more obvious to readers. However, when you try to do that in Illustrator, both the text and underline colors will have to be changed together.

There isn’t an underline tool to help you to only change the underline color alone. In this case, you will have to separately create a horizontal line that isn’t linked to the text, using the drawing tools like the Line Segment tool, Pen tool, or Rectangle tool.

You can change the underline color by selecting Window > Appearance. Then, double-click the stroke color and select the color you wish to change to in the Swatches panel.

How To Change The Underline Thickness In Illustrator

If you wish to change the underline thickness in Illustrator, you will have to use the drawing tools like the Line Segment tool, Pen tool, or Rectangle tool to create the underline.

If you were to use the Underline tool from the Character panel, the thickness of the underline will follow the style of your text. To change the underline thickness after creating it with any of the drawing tools, select it and open the Appearance panel by selecting Window > Appearance.

Then, adjust the stroke thickness by increasing the stroke value. Or select the Direct Selection Tool from the toolbar and use that to shift the anchor points of the underline.

How To Adjust Spacing Of Underlined Text

Currently, the Underline tool from the Character panel does not come with any options to change the spacing between the text and the underline.

If you wish to adjust the spacing of underlined text, you will have to create the underline using the drawing tools like the Line Segment tool, Pen tool, or Rectangle tool.

From there, you can customize them in any way you want. They are separated from the text, and any changes to them will not affect your text.

How To Underline Text In Illustrator When The Option Is Not In The Character Panel

You may have opened the Character panel and selected your text, all ready to underline it. But you don’t see the Underline tool in the Character panel.

In this case, the option to underline text has been hidden. To open it, select the three lines on the top right-hand corner of the Character panel. then, select Show Options in the drop-down menu. You will see the Underline tool appear in the Character panel.

How Do You Offset Underline In Illustrator?

You can offset underline like how you offset a path in Illustrator. First, select the text, and click on the Underline button on the Character panel to underline the text.

Next, Create Outlines for the underlined text by selecting the text, then use keyboard shortcuts Shift + Command + O for Mac or Shift + Ctrl + O for Windows.

Convert the outlined text to a compound path by selecting Object > Compound Path > Make. Then, offset text and underline by selecting Object > Path > Offset Path.

Final Thoughts: How to Underline Text in Illustrator

While many think the Underline tool has limited options, Illustrator has much more to offer creators and graphic designers. On top of the drawing tools, the Create Outlines tool and Expand feature for text are available to give you more versatility in your design process.

The Underline tool in Illustrator is similar to how it works in Adobe Indesign. But with the various tools available in Illustrator, you are able to freely distort and manipulate the underline as much as you want much more than in Indesign.

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