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How to Convert Text to Outlines in Illustrator

Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

If you convert text to a shape in Illustrator, you can no longer edit it as text, but you get something else in return: total freedom in reshaping and styling the outlines. In this tutorial, I'll show you how to vectorize text in Illustrator, and how to solve a certain problem that can happen in the process.

What You Will Learn in This Illustrator Tutorial

  • How to convert text to outlines in Illustrator
  • How to make text into a shape in Illustrator
  • How to outline overlapping letters
  • How to add outside stroke to text in Illustrator

Follow along with us over on our Envato Tuts+ YouTube channel:

Tutorial Assets

You can use any font you want, but if you like the one I used, you can download it on Envato Elements:

How to Convert Text to Outlines in Illustrator

Step 1

Here's how to convert text to a shape in Illustrator. First, create a New Document. You can use any size you wish.

illustrator text to vector

Step 2

Use the Type Tool (T) to add your text. Adjust its size and placement, and select a pretty font.

text settings
write your text

Step 3

If you want to make the text more interesting, go to Type > Glyphs and replace some of the letters with their variations.

select glyphs
make text decorative

Step 4

Make sure you've done everything you wanted with the text—once you convert the text to a path, you won’t be able to edit it. In case you change your mind later, it’s good to have a copy of the text before you convert it to outlines. Open the Layers panel, open its menu, and select Duplicate Layer. Hide the original.

open layer menu
hide the layer

Step 5

Now I'll show you how to vectorize text in Illustrator. Select the text and go to Type > Create Outlines.

convert text to outlines illustrator

Step 6

In many cases, this will give you the result you want, but sometimes you need one more step. Can you see how these paths cross each other? Let’s remove them. Go to Window > Pathfinder, select your outlines, and select Unite. This will give the text a more unified look.

illustrator convert text to shape problem
unite the text
remove overlapping in text

Step 7

Once you've turned your text to outlines, you can treat it like any other vector shape—you can take the Direct Selection Tool (A) and drag the anchor points around to give the letters a unique look.

illustrator convert text to path

Step 8

If your letters aren’t joined by design, you can also move them separately. Just select the text and go to Object > Ungroup. Everything outlined by a single path will be treated as a separate shape.

illustrator text to shape

Step 9

Because your text is a shape now, you can easily add a stroke to it on the inside or outside. Compare it to what would happen if the text were still text: the stroke would be added to the crossing paths, and you’d have no other option than to center it. So even though turning text into curves means you can no longer edit it as text, it also gives you more freedom in editing the text as a shape.

convert text to shape illustrator
add outer stroke to text illustrator

Good Job!

Now you know how to convert text to a shape in Illustrator.

how to convert text to shape in illustrator

If you want to learn more about creating text effects in Illustrator, try these tutorials:

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