How to Outline Text in Adobe Illustrator

You can outline text in Adobe Illustrator using the keyboard shortcut Ctrl/Command + Shift + O, right-clicking on the text box to see the pop-up menu > Create Outline, or selecting Object > Expand from the overhead menu. 

My name is Rita. I have used Adobe Illustrator for more than five years. When I started using Illustrator, I wondered why people complained of missing/distorted text in the designs I sent to them. I discovered I didn’t outline my text. Newbie designer (Lol)

Outlining text in Adobe Illustrator ensures that your text appears correctly anytime (when printing or viewed with another software).

Do you see why you need to outline your text? In this tutorial, I will show you three quick ways to do this in Adobe Illustrator.

Key Takeaways

  • Outlining text means converting your text to an object. Individual letters of the text you outlined become shapes.
  • Be sure to convert your texts to outlines when you print. It makes the text appear the way it looks in Illustrator after printing.
  • Outlining your text helps you to edit it as a vector. You can play around the path to create a new typeface. 

3 Easy Ways to Outline Text in Adobe Illustrator

There are three ways to outline a text in Adobe Illustrator. For “fast fingers”, You can use the keyboard shortcut, right-click to see options, or go to the overhead menu to create a text outline.

Let me show how these methods work.

Note: All the screenshots used in this tutorial are taken from Adobe Illustrator CC Windows Version. Mac and other versions may appear different.

Method 1: Keyboard Shortcut

The keyboard shortcut Shift + Ctrl (Command for Mac Users) + O Allows you to quickly outline your text in Illustrator. 

Make sure you select the text you wish to outline before using the shortcut.

Method 2: Right-Click the Text Box to Outline Text

Select the text you want to outline and right-click the text box. When you right-click the text box, a pop-up box will appear. Select Create Outlines to convert your text outline. 

Method 3: Use the Overhead Menu

This method is a little different from the first two. You can outline your text in a few seconds using this method.

Step 1: Select the text you want to outline.

Step 2:  Go to the overhead menu and select Type > Create Outline

Your text will be immediately converted to a vector. With the text selected, you can also go to Object > Expand to outline the text.

Yippy! You have outlined your text in Adobe Illustrator. You can zoom in on your outlined text to see paths.

You can also ungroup the text to edit individual characters. 

Zoom in for a closer view. Having a closer view helps you edit better.

Note: You can’t change an outlined text. Make sure you keep a copy of the original file before outlining your text. Having a copy of the original file makes it easy for you to correct typos or spelling errors after outlining. Even if you can’t change an outlined text, you gain flexibility. You can customize the texts to meet your needs since they are now editable objects.


In case you have a few doubts about outlining texts in Adobe Illustrator, these answers will help clear your doubts.

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

Hold the Shift key to select all the text you wish to outline, then use keyboard shortcuts Shift + Command + O for Mac or Shift + Ctrl + O for Windows to Create Outlines for all text.

Do I have to outline text for printing?

Yes, you do. If you downloaded or bought a font online, the printer may not have that font. The font may be distorted or missing if the printer doesn’t have it. When you outline your text, you are preserving it. It will remain as it is.

Why can’t I outline text in Illustrator?

There are several reasons why you can’t outline text in Illustrator. Maybe you didn’t select the text. If you don’t do this, nothing will happen.

Second, if you want to outline a text on a path. You need to select the path using the selection tool and then go to Object > Expand to outline the text.

Final Thoughts

If you want your text to look the way you intend, you should outline it. Outlining your text saves you the unnecessary stress of multiple revisions. If you are saving your file as a PDF, remember to outline your text before sending it to the printer.

Do you have any questions? Let us know in the comment section below.

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