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10 Useful Typography Tips For Adobe Illustrator

Typography is not only an all-important aspect of design, it is also an art form in and of itself. Choosing the right font, the perfect spacing and even the correct shape of text can be an important factor as to whether a project fails or succeeds. Although Illustrator is not really used for multiple-paged projects, many would agree that it is one of the most powerful applications for creating vector graphics, such as logos, and it is also often used for one-page documents, such as business cards, posters, or postcards.

Since we can easily transfer graphics from Illustrator to Photoshop and InDesign, designers often use Illustrator to create vector type that they can then incorporate into projects in another program. For instance, you can create a nice type design within Illustrator, then add some extra effects in Photoshop. Or you may need to design a text illustration within Illustrator to place within your brochure project in InDesign.

Further Reading on SmashingMag: Link

If you have never taken the time to explore the type side of Illustrator, you may be surprised at the powerful tools that Illustrator provides for working with type. Similar text features found in Photoshop and InDesign are also available in Illustrator — only Illustrator comes with its own unique set of typographical features as well. So for those of you who use another Adobe Suite program, you will easily catch on to Illustrator’s type idiosyncrasies.

No matter what your purpose for working with type in Illustrator is, as a designer, you will not only improve your work, but also save valuable time by knowing the different typographical tools available. Here, we will focus on some of the most important aspects of typography that every Illustrator user should know:

  1. Metric vs. Optical Kerning5
  2. Roman Hanging Punctuation6
  3. The Glyphs Panel7
  4. Hyphens and Dashes8
  5. Styles Panels9
  6. Placing Type on a Path10
  7. Point Type vs. Area Type11
  8. Creating Columns of Text12
  9. Text Flow Between Containers13
  10. Scaling Area Type Numerically14

1. Metric Vs. Optical Kerning Link

Kerning15 is an important aspect of design. It has to do with the adjustment of space between letters in order to improve the visual treatment of typography, and Illustrator provides the right kerning tools for designers. In more recent versions of Illustrator’s CS series, three automatic kerning options are available: “Auto” (also known as metric), “Optical” and “Metrics – Roman Only.” In addition, manual kerning is available. All have their place in design, but knowing which one to use when can be confusing without some basic knowledge.


Auto, or metrics, kerning is built into type using kern pairs; for instance, all PostScript fonts have kern pairs built into them. Illustrator interprets this kerning code to determine how much space to put between certain letter combinations, such as “WA,” “LA,” “To” and “Ty.”

Optical kerning is also an automatic kerning option built into type but slightly different than the Auto option.  It uses the shapes of the letters to determine the space to put between characters. Optical kerning works well when combining letters of more than one font or when a font has little to no kerning built in. Use manual kerning where possible, since it provides the highest level of control. Most often, though, one would use manual kerning only in display copy, headlines, business cards and other short blocks of text.

The “Metrics – Roman Only” option, which was added into Illustrator in the CS4 version, is for Japanese typography. This option adds kerning only to Roman glyphs or any character that rotates in vertical text. Basically, it works with Latin characters, such as Basic Latin or Latin Extended, and the half-width Katakana. To switch to Optical kerning, first select the text you wish to change. Then, under the Characters palette (WindowTypeCharacter), click on the Kerning drop-down menu. Then select “Optical.”


Or, if you would like to manually kern letters yourself, place the cursor between two letters, and choose a value in the Character palette:


To turn off kerning between selected characters, set it to “0”:


Keep in mind that to adjust the value between entire groups of letters, you will have to use the tracking settings in the Character palette. The tracking is adjusted in the drop-down menu located to the right of the Kerning drop-down menu. Hover your mouse over the menu to see “Set the tracking for the selected characters,” as in the screenshot below:


Illustrator’s default kerning is “Auto,” so simply select this if you would like to turn it back on.


Useful Tip: One excellent way to save yourself some time while designing is to use Illustrator’s keyboard shortcuts to change manual kerning and tracking settings. To change the kerning between two characters, simply place the cursor between the two letters. Then use Alt/Option + left/right arrow. The kerning will decrease with Alt/Option + left arrow and increase with Alt/Option + right arrow.

To change the tracking for an entire group of letters, first select the letters you want to change. As with kerning, use Alt/Option + left arrow to decrease tracking and Alt/Option + right arrow to increase tracking.

2. Roman Hanging Punctuation Link

Roman hanging punctuation will give your blocks of text a clean appearance, taking your typography from amateur to pro. But what exactly is this tool that is hardly talked about? Turning on the Roman hanging option in Illustrator will make the text line up evenly by “hanging” quotation marks in the margin. Otherwise, quotations are set flush with text, within the margin.

To turn on Roman hanging punctuation, open the Paragraph tool panel, and click on the arrow on the upper right of the box. A drop-down menu will appear in which you can choose “Roman Hanging Punctuation.”


Keep in mind that you can turn on or off the Roman Hanging Punctuation for entire blocks of text. Just select the blocks of text and use the same drop-down menu to change the setting.

3. The Glyphs Panel Link

Glyphs are any characters found within a font family. The Glyphs panel in Illustrator is the place to locate font objects, from normal characters to the special symbols. Whatever font you have selected when you open the glyphs panel is the menu that will be displayed. Fortunately, you do not have to keep exiting the Glyphs panel every time you would like to see the glyphs for another font or see glyphs similar to the one you’ve selected. You can also keep the Glyphs panel open while moving your cursor to different locations in the document.

To open the Glyphs Panel, go to WindowTypeGlyphs. Click on a glyph to select it; double-click to insert it in the line of text. Illustrator places the character wherever your blinking text cursor is located.


Hover your mouse over glyphs to see the Unicode (the name given to each character in the Glyphs panel); the Unicode is displayed at the top of the panel. Once you have found the glyph you would like to use, simply double-click on the character to insert it into your current project.


To see a different font, simply choose a different family and style from the drop-down boxes at the bottom of the panel.


To see the glyphs in a larger or smaller preview display, click on the zoom in and out buttons located in the lower-right corner of the panel.


In the “Show” menu at the top of the panel, you can limit the type of characters displayed in that font; for instance, “Oldstyle Figures.”


You might notice that some characters in a font include an arrow in the lower-right corner of the character box in the Glyphs panel. This arrow indicates that alternate glyphs are available for this character. To access these alternates, simply click and hold the character. Drag your cursor over the alternate glyph you would like to use, and release the mouse. The glyph should now be inserted in the text.


4. Hyphens and Dashes Link

One of the easiest ways to disqualify yourself as a professional designer is by using hyphens and dashes incorrectly. The rules are somewhat tedious but fairly easy to learn and remember.

A hyphen is the shortest in length and is located on the keyboard next to the “+” sign. It has three functions. It is used when a word is split at the end of a line of text. It is used to join two words together to create a compound word, such as “fun-loving dad” and “anti-American.” A hyphen is also used with two-word numbers, such as forty-two. If in doubt, look up the word in a dictionary and use a hyphen if the word is not present. Example: “Twenty-two dollars is all that your un- line break loving dad will give to a well-intentioned suitor.”

An en dash is the second longest in length and is used to show a span of time or a numerical range; for example, 5–9, July–September, 1:00–8:00. In the Glyphs panel in Illustrator, the en dash Unicode is U+2013. Example: “Our vacation is from June 13–18.”

An em dash is the longest in length of the three and is used to show a break in thought. For instance, “Down the road—and a long winding road it was—they traveled as quickly as possible.” In Illustrator, the em dash Unicode is U+2014. Example: “We gathered our supplies — all eight truck loads — and started slowly up the bypass.”

5. Styles Panels Link

When working with large amounts of text in Illustrator, you do not have to keep applying the same font styles manually to every heading and block of text. You can simply save your settings using the Character Styles panel or the Paragraph Styles panel. Both can be found under WindowType.

To set a style, simply type your heading or paragraph using the font styles you want to save. Then go to WindowTypeCharacter Styles, or WindowTypeParagraph Styles. A Styles panel box will appear, and in the upper-right corner will be a small arrow, which is the Styles menu. To create your own name for the style, choose “New Character” or “Paragraph Style,” type a name, and click OK.


When you would like to add your new Character or Paragraph Style to text, select the text. Then click on the style that you created in the Style panel box. The style you saved will now be added to the text.


To edit a style, click on the style in the panel box, then click to the Character and Paragraph Style options in the drop-down menu, or simply double-click on the style you want to change.


Now on the left side of the dialog box that pops open, click on a formatting category. Make the changes you need, click OK, and all text that you’ve applied to this style will be changed. Keep in mind that if text is selected, the changes will be made to it only. Click on the Selection tool and then click anywhere on the work desk to make sure that text is not selected before attempting to change the style of all text.


To delete a style, select it in the Character or Paragraph Styles panel. Then click the “Delete” button in the bottom-right corner of the panel. Or just drag the style onto the “Delete” button. The formatting of text associated with this style will not change, but a style will no longer be applied to this text.


6. Placing Type On a Path Link

Most Illustrator users know that type can be placed on a path to create shaped text or text that wraps around an object. The technique for applying text to a path is different depending on the path, though. Type can be placed on either an open path, which is a line with a beginning and end, or a closed path, such as a circle or square.

Open Paths Link

To place type on an open path (i.e. a line with a beginning and end), begin by creating a path, such as a curved line. Make sure to select the Type tool, and then move your cursor over the path until the cursor changes to a Type on a Path icon, which has a line through it.


Then just click on the path, and you will have created a Path Type object. The Stroke objects will be gone, and a blinking cursor will appear in which you can type your message.


To make any changes to your open path type, choose the Selection tool and click on the path. In and out ports (small white boxes) will appear at either end of the path and a line in the center and on the far left and right. Basically, Illustrator is now treating the path as it would area type. Drag one of the lines to make the text path shorter or longer; make sure that your cursor is an arrow with a line-and-arrow symbol next to it.


You can change the actual type just as you would any other area type, including by changing the font size. Doing this, though, may make the text extend outside of the area type’s boundaries. If this happens, a red plus sign will appear.


If you click on the plus sign, the cursor will change to a linked container cursor (it looks like a text box). Then, click on another area in your project to create another open path line of the same size and shape as your first. New text will continue to flow onto this new line.


Or simply drag the beginning and end lines to make text fit on the path:


Make changes to the actual path that the text sits on by choosing the Direct Selection tool and then clicking on the path. You can now lengthen or shorten the path or change the shape, just as you would with any other path.


You can also move the type to sit underneath the path by dragging the center line to the opposite side of the path. Or go to TypeType on a PathType on a Path Options. In the box that appears, check the “Flip” box and click OK.


To flip type over, go to TypeType on a PathType on a Path Options. Select the Flip box and then select “Ascender” in the “Align to Path” menu. Other changes can be made in this dialog box as well: change the effect, choose other path alignment options or adjust the spacing.


Closed Paths Link

The confusing part of placing type on a closed path is that the start and end points are in the same place. With an open path, your starting point is wherever you click with the Type tool to create a Path Type object, and the end point is the end of the path. On a closed path, both the start and end points are wherever you click, because the object creates a continuous line. The center line on a closed path, such as a circle, would then be at the bottom of the circle if your start point is at the top. To place type on a closed path, you will have to choose the Type on a Path tool by clicking on the Type tool and dragging to pull out the Type menu.


Then click on the path where you would like the text to start and begin typing. Once again, make sure the cursor changes to the Type on a Path symbol.


Just as with an open path, you can change the location of the start and end points and, therefore, move the location of the text on the object.


You can also move type underneath the line or flip type over the same way as you would with open type. Simply go to TypeType on a PathType on a Path Options, and change the settings to get the desired effect. Or you can make changes by dragging the center line.


7. Point Type vs. Area Type Link

Point type, created by selecting the Type tool, is so called because it adds text to a certain point in an image. Area type, created by selecting the Area Type tool, adds text to fill a specified area of an image.

Point type is often used for headlines and other single lines of text. The more you type, the longer the text line becomes. To move text to another line, you must manually press Enter or Return on the keyboard. Area type is used for paragraphs of text and is surrounded by a bounding box. As you type, the text automatically flows to fill the box. The bounding box in area type will have two large boxes, called ports, in addition to the normal bounding box handles. These ports are the in and out boxes from which text flows between area type containers.


When selecting point type with the Selection tool and if you have selected “Show Bounding Box” in the View drop-down menu, a bounding box will appear surrounding the text. However, when changing the shape or size of the bounding box with point type, the text will become distorted because no shape is holding the text. On the other hand, changing the size or shape of area text will simply change the way the text fills the bounding box.


8. Creating Columns of Text Link

Any area type can easily be divided into columns, or even rows, whenever needed. First, create the area type, and then select it. Go to TypeArea Type Options. In the box that appears, you will see options for changing the settings of both rows and columns, as well as for resizing the area type.

Change the number of rows or columns by changing the Number settings underneath the Row or Column settings. The “Span” changes the width of individual rows or columns, and the “Gutter” changes the distance between each row or column.


If you select the “Fixed” box, then you can resize the area, and the number of rows or columns will change, not their width.


With the Fixed box deselected, the size of the rows and columns will increase or decrease when resizing, but the number of rows or columns will remain the same.


If you break the text into both columns and rows, rather than just one or the other, then you will want to choose the way text flows between columns and rows in the Options section. Selecting “By Rows” will cause the text to be read from left to right, first in the top row and then in the bottom row. Selecting “By Columns” will cause the text to be read left to right, first in the left column and then in the right column.


9. Text Flow Between Containers Link

With certain projects, you may need to make text flow from one area type container to the next. For instance, you may have created an area type frame in the exact size you need, but as you type, the text “overflows,” which Illustrator alerts you about with a red box with a plus sign inside.


Clicking on this plus sign with the Direct Selection tool will change your cursor to the linked container symbol.


Click again on the artboard and Illustrator will create a new container of the exact same size as the first. Text will now continue to “flow” from the previous container into this new one.


If you would like to create a container of different proportions, though, then click and drag on the artboard until the container is the size you desire.


10. Scaling Area Type Numerically Link

Instead of resizing an area type bounding box by using the handles, you can scale it numerically, making for a more accurate size that can be repeated. Go to TypeArea Type Options, and enter the size of box you need.


Or you can go to ObjectTransformScale to size a bounding box numerically. Keep in mind that these techniques will also change the scale of the text. To keep text the same while changing the box only, click on a side of the frame using the Direct Selection tool, and then scale the bounding box. The text should remain the same while the size of the bounding box changes.


Type Tool Shortcuts Link

Keyboard shortcuts will make your work in Adobe Illustrator go that much faster. Memorize each of the following to improve your workflow:

  • Shift + Control/Command + O : Create outlines.
  • Alt + Control/Command + I : Show or hide hidden characters.
  • T : This way you can select the Type tool faster.
  • Control/Command + T : Show or hide the Character panel.
  • Shift + Control/Command + T : Show or hide the Tabs panel.
  • Alt + Control/Command + T : Show or hide the Paragraph panel.
  • Alt + Shift + Control/Command + T : Show or hide the Open Type panel.
  • Shift : Hold down while the Type tool is selected to switch between horizontal and vertical text.
  • Escape : Press while typing to escape from the type object. The Selection tool and type object will also be selected.

Keep in mind that these are only type tool shortcuts and commands. Print out a complete list of shortcuts from KeyXL59 to have on hand if needed.

Other Resources Link

You may be interested in the following articles and related resources:

(al) (ik) (vf)

Footnotes Link

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spends her days writing about marketing, advertising, branding, web and graphic design, and other small business topics. She is Senior Editor for Creative Content Experts, a content creation and link building company that she co-owns with her husband. Connect with @TaraHornor on Twitter to see daily marketing and graphic design advice on her feed.

  1. 1

    This is an excellent primer on Illustrator’s type capabilities—nicely done.

    A couple of notes about type on a path: As one of the examples shows, type on a path can end up looking clunky. It may be helpful to adjust the baseline of the text down so the path effectively goes through around the x-height as opposed to the baseline. You can also change the rotation of individual letters to fine-tune how the text adheres to the path.

  2. 2

    Daniel Cordell

    February 15, 2011 6:56 am

    I needed the path tips. Thanks

  3. 3

    I love the type tool in illustrator, thanks for the tips

  4. 4

    Michel Bozgounov

    February 15, 2011 7:41 am

    Excellent article — there are quite many things that one can learn about using Type tools in Ai! :-)

    Btw, I could add another useful tip about kerning with keyboard shortcuts: Keep in mind that not all Adobe apps have same shortcuts for the same operations!

    For example, to change kerning and tracking with the keyboard, in Adobe Illustrator/Photoshop you will use Alt/Option + left/right arrow. In Adobe Fireworks, the same operation is performed with Ctrl/Cmd + left/right arrow. :)

  5. 5

    Interesting article, yet I’ve a doubt… is there an option to place bullets on a text?

  6. 6

    Thank you for applying eye drops to the most notorious blindspot in the Adobe portfolio.

  7. 7

    Thanks for this article, I will have to sit down and go through it tonight. This is the year of better typography for me. One thing I didn’t see covered though is opentype. Are there any additional resources to help me better understand how to use opentype in Illustrator?

  8. 8

    Before I read this article I knew that Illustrator had advanced typography tools. Now I’m aware that it has MIGHTY typography tools. ;)

    Thank you for the article!

  9. 9

    Thanks so much for the quick tips re: Roman Hanging Punctuation! That has been a problem for me in the past. Now I have a solution!

  10. 10

    rafael armstrong

    February 15, 2011 10:27 am

    Thanks for the post I actually learned about columns in text boxes from a legacy file I had to edit just this past month (I find it hard to believe I had never come across it– or needed it– before). Sadly, though, I still have troubles with the various dashes, although with your explanation that may soon become a thing of the past. :)

    Thanks again.

  11. 11

    Excellent article

  12. 12

    Great article!

  13. 13

    Nice one….i have one doubt how to make a text as superscript in a sentence or in a paragraph???

  14. 14

    @Daniel – You’re welcome! I hope that the tips helped.

    @Andre – I also greatly enjoy using the Type Tool and all of its features. Glad you enjoyed the tips!

    @Michel – Thanks for the reminder! Too bad Adobe did not stick with the same shortcut for Fireworks as they did for Photoshop and Illustrator; it would be much easier to remember.

    @Steph – Thanks! I hope that you can use some of the tips in this article.

    @David – Very notorious indeed. :) I’m glad the eye drops helped.

    @William – I sincerely hope that this article helps you achieve your typography goals for this year. I found to be a great overview of working with OpenType fonts in Illustrator.

    @Artur – Glad you enjoyed the article! Yes, it really is very impressive at how comprehensive the type features are in Illustrator.

    @Benny – Great! Once learned, Roman hanging punctuation really is a handy feature. My favorite part of this feature is the clean look it gives to a block of text.

    @rafael – I too have had trouble with the hyphen and dashes in the past. Once learned, though, you will never go back! Hope that these tips will help you in your endeavors to make dash troubles disappear.

    @gedas – Thanks! I hope it gave you some useful tips.

    @Cheshire – My experience has also been to adjust the baseline for making text hug the path better. I just open the Type on a Path Options box and play around with the Align to Path drop down menu options. Then I use Spacing to make my adjustments. Although, I have often found that to change the flow of individual letters on a path, kerning and tracking seem to be what works best. Is this your method or do you have a more accurate way to adjust individual letters?

    @Eric – Thanks!

    @Javier – There certainly is a way to create bulleted text. Open the Glyphs panel (see Section 3 above), find the bullet you want to insert. Make sure your cursor is in the location you want the bullet placed, and then double click on the bullet in the Glyphs panel. The bullet should now be inserted into your text. Keep in mind that you can keep the Glyphs panel open the entire time you are working with text.

    @mimundo – To create superscripts, you will simply need to open the Glyphs panel as explained in Section 3 above. In the “Show” drop down menu in the upper left hand side of the panel, choose “Superscripts.” Make sure your cursor is in the spot you want your superscript placed, and then double click the superscript to insert it into your text.

  15. 15

    Douglas Bonneville

    February 15, 2011 10:32 pm

    So should there be spaces before and after em dashes or not?

    • 16

      Given their length, generally no, but a thin space on either side is preferred by some. Or use an en-dash with spaces.

    • 17

      Short answer: Don’t use spaced em rules.

      On en rules however, it gets complicated.

      Don’t use a spaced en rule as a substitute for an em rule, they mean different things grammatically. You can use a spaced en rule when the reader might otherwise have trouble determining the meaning of the sentence. For instance when the names of the two entities you’re linking are two or more words each, eg Liberal Party – National Party coalition.

      And never, ever use a spaced hyphen in place of either!

  16. 18

    Great article. Very helpful. I’d love to see similar article about InDesign.

  17. 19

    Nicholas van der Walle

    February 16, 2011 12:49 am

    Very nice article, Tara. Clear and informative.

    Adobe Illustrator has many typography tools and apparently shares much of its text engine with InDesign. A follow-up article looking at Character and Paragraph styles in more depth would be very nice :-)

    Keep up the great work,


  18. 20

    Did you ever heard about Inkscape? It’s Free and powerful !

  19. 21

    Nice article…its very useful for web designers…

  20. 22

    May I add one hint?

    For creating type on a closed path you don’t need the path-type-tool. Just take the type-tool, press the Alt-key and move the cursor over the path.

  21. 23

    John Mindiola III

    February 16, 2011 7:03 am

    A very good primer for Illustrator’s type tools. I love these types of articles. A few notes I’d add:

    The Roman Hanging Punctuation only works on area type. If just using point type, it won’t work.

    Kerning a monowidth font like OCR-A or Courier New is generally a no-no. Those fonts are designed to have fixed, even spacing between characters.

    Paragraph and Character styles are great and save a lot of time. However, most of the styles one uses are Paragraph styles. Character styles would only be used for instances where one needs a character (or word) inside a paragraph to have different styling. An example: the key terms in a textbook. Then again, for a textbook, one would use InDesign.

    • 24

      Paragraph styles are your best friend, character styles are your best friends girlfriend.

  22. 25

    Very good article, I’ve been used illustrator for 14 years and is very versatile and easy to use, i don’t know why some people want to design website in Photoshop yet.

  23. 26

    Cool post Tara!

  24. 27

    Thanks Tara, good one :)

  25. 28

    There’s one thing that bugs me in Illustrator. I cannot see a way to detach the text from a path. Freehand had this feature 20 years ago, I can’t believe Illustrator cannot do it, but still… I can’t figure out how! Please tell me that I’m wrong.

    • 29

      Have you tried copying (Ctrl+C) the text and then pasting it (Ctrl+V) onto another section of your document? It should now act as point type. Is this what you are needing?

  26. 30

    This is basically what you learn in a graphic/visual communications course.
    Well done, if only this was available before I began study.

  27. 31

    or use

  28. 32

    To hang punctuation in InDesign select your text box, open your story pallet and check optical margin alignment. Be sure to adjust the size to the size of your type (or what suits you visually).

    Now go hang your punctuation! Not doing it is as much a sign of amateur typography as using inch and foot marks instead of smart quotes.

  29. 33

    Excellent help. I use Illustrator most of the day but as a ‘self-taught’ user there are techniques that would take me a fair amount of time before I stumbled across them…….thanks for this =]

  30. 34

    Very Useful. I’m newbie Adobe Illustrator

  31. 35

    @Douglas – Pbear is right. Spacing with dashes is a matter of preference; however, never simply replace an em dash with an en dash because you want to use spaces. I’m not sure if this is what pbear was suggesting or not, but I want to make it clear that you definitely need to stick with the rules of usage as outlined above.

    @Qbin2001 – Thanks! Yes, an InDesign article on typography tips would be very interesting, considering the fact that InDesign was created for text-heavy documents. Maybe I should attempt it one of these days. :)

    @Nicholas – Yes, Illustrator seems like a less involved typographic version of InDesign. Character and paragraphs styles would certainly be very interesting to explore more in a written article.

    @Melli – I have heard of Inkscape, and it does sound like a very good free alternative to Illustrator. I have never used Inkscape myself, so I am not sure how comparable it is to Illustrator; however, I think there is something to say about the fact that nearly all professional designers use Illustrator rather than Inkscape.

    @kesava – I hope that many designers do find this article useful. Thanks!

    @Monika – Thanks for this shortcut! The Alt key provides for some very handy little keyboard shortcuts.

    @John – Thanks for these reminders! I forgot to mention the all-important fact that Roman Hanging Punctuation only works with area type. Yes, you are right about using Paragraph Styles more often than Character Styles; however, I often use Character Styles for headings and Paragraph Styles for, say, the main text in a flyer or ad.

    @Rubenz – It seems to me also that Illustrator makes it much easier to design a website, but Photoshop does have many more photo manipulation tools available. This is why many use Illustrator in combination with Photoshop to create some designs.

    @Edward – Thanks!

    @Sascha – You’re welcome!

    @Max – Yes it is! Isn’t it wonderful that many self-taught designers have this kind of help available for free online these days?

    @Chricke – Oh, nice! I didn’t know about this helpful list of common characters; thanks for the heads up.

    @Liz – Thank you for the tips for using Hanging Punctuation in InDesign. I like that InDesign allows you to adjust the size accordingly.

    @Lee – You’re welcome, Lee! I’m so glad that this article has helped you.

    @Cung – Glad that you found this article useful! I hope that it helps to improve your work flow greatly.

  32. 36

    Junior D'haese

    March 5, 2011 2:59 pm

    Interesting article… and also quite thorough. I have learnt a great deal from this post.

  33. 38

    always good to read stuff like this. thank you

  34. 40

    This is by far the most useful link I ever came across!

  35. 42

    The one thing that kills me in Illustrator is not having the ‘indent to here’ tool that InDesign offers. Do you have a tip for that?

    • 43

      Tara Hornor

      July 29, 2011 8:19 pm

      Unfortunately, you are right in that Illustrator does not have a similar feature to the InDesign “Indent to here” feature. The fewer type features in Illustrator is why most prefer InDesign when working on a text-heavy document. You may want to just show the grid (View>Show Grid) and the rulers (View>Rulers>Show Rulers), and then you can manually spacebar the cursor to the right spot.

  36. 44

    Nice one, helps more, thanks

  37. 46

    Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!

  38. 48

    Just when you think you know it all someone teaches you something new. Thank you!

    • 49

      Tara Hornor

      July 29, 2011 8:21 pm

      I’m so glad you were able to learn a new concept or trick from this post!

  39. 50

    Brett Widmann

    April 19, 2011 8:53 am

    These are really helpful tips! Thank you.

  40. 52

    Just got Illustrator CS5 last week and these typography tips should come in handy! Except that on the “type on a path”, I can’t see where it says how to remove the line path created by the pen tool.

    • 53

      Tara Hornor

      July 29, 2011 8:33 pm

      If I understand you correctly, I believe you would simply need to click on the Selection Tool and click elsewhere on your artboard. Unless you want to get rid of the path completely, and in this case, you go to Object>Path>Remover Anchor Points. I hope this helps!

  41. 54

    Varun bhardwaj

    June 26, 2011 11:59 pm

    Thanks, it was a clear cut and helpful article targeting professional design type.

    • 55

      Tara Hornor

      July 29, 2011 8:34 pm

      I’m glad you found it easy to read and understand; always a goal of mine for every article. :)

  42. 56

    hi tara, thanks for the great tips. can you tell me if there is a way to reduce or enlarge the spacing between lines of text when you hit return. i looked at the paragraph & character panels but can’t seem to figure this out. i am point typing with center justification and it seems to be an auto/default only spacing when i hit return.
    thank you!
    debra w.

  43. 57

    vary vary nice tutorial

  44. 58

    What a great primer on text tools in Illustrator!

    The one thing that you might need that isn’t covered is converting a path from area type to type on a path (and vice versa) just in case you clicked the wrong tool.

    You really just end up duplicating the path without the text, but it seems very non-obvious.

    Here’s the method:
    1) Change to Direct Selection tool.
    2) Select any anchor on the existing path.
    3) Hold ALT and click any segment of the path.
    4) Now copy and paste a duplicate of the path (this will be just the path with no text).
    5) Use whichever text tool.

  45. 59

    Not a massive fan of illustrator for typography, but reading this section has made me reconsider. Many thanks!

  46. 60

    Adam van Kuik

    December 3, 2011 2:20 pm

    Is there a way to display a word, such as “Star Wars” in multiple fonts and print them all on a few pages? Instead of making numerous copies of the name and applying the different styles one-by-one.

  47. 61

    Nice arcticle! Compiles many useful tips :) For some weird reason though, if I press Esc while typing in Illustrator CS4 nothing happens, and I have to desperately click on other tool icons to get out of the typing box. I used to work in CS3, and it worked just fine. Is this a CS4 thing or some kind of misconfiguration? :(
    Any help much appreciated!

    • 62

      @carla, sometimes if your keyboard shortcuts aren’t working, try quitting chrome/firefox/whatever browser you have open. It’s strange and I don’t know why it happens, but sometimes it interferes with my keyboard shortcuts!

      I found that tip on a forum somewhere, a long long time ago, and it has since saved me a ton of head-scratching and aggressive keyboard-smacking.

      Hope that helps!

  48. 63

    Hi, I was wondering if anyone would be able to help me with a type problem. I’m wanting to make a word with the first letter in a large font size and then decrease in size as the word continues. I’ve been looking all over and cannot find out how to do this without making each letter a separate text box and resizing them all one by one. I can do it that way, but it always looks a little off. I would be very grateful if anyone could provide a solution! Thanks!

  49. 64

    How do you make text break to a new column within Illustrator?

  50. 65

    There are some more shortcuts to be used with the type tool:
    – Ctrl+Enter for exiting text edit mode (the text object remains selected);
    – Shift+Enter – line break, very useful when using custom space values before and after paragraphs;
    – Shift+Ctrl+, and Shift+Ctrl+. – increasing/decreasing font point size by 2 points (by using Alt one can modify the values by 10 points);
    – Ctrl + T – Character palette, Ctrl+Alt+T – Paragraph palette, Shift+Ctrl+T – tab palette, Shift+Ctrl+Alt+T – open type palette.

    There is no way to break a column in Illustrator. In InDesign you can use the Enter key on the numerical pad.

    To have individual letters at custom point sizes, you can simply use the keyboard shortcuts provided above. The big problem is the baseline, which will be the same for every letter, unless you provide a custom value for each and every letter via the baseline shift option in the Character value. Anyway, there is no easy way to get the effect you want because you’ll also have problems with the kerning, tracking and leading.
    When I need such effects, I simply treat each letter as a separate object (after selecting the right typeface and making a copy just in case I need editing that text later). I convert the text to outlines – Shift+Ctrl+O, ungroup – Shift+Ctrl+U, and then resize and arrange each and every letter by hand. I group the letters after I have finished arranging them in the shape I want and then use the text wrap option to flow the rest of the text around it.

  51. 66

    Abhimanyu Rana

    August 2, 2012 11:42 am

    Greate Article. Thanx for Share

  52. 67

    I created a curved line. I pasted in too much text. Got the “+” sign indicating overspill.

    I want to attach another extra curved line to capture the overspill, not stretch what I have already.

    Please, how to do that?

  53. 68

    Thanks for great tips for types on a path.
    I have a question:
    If I want put a type on a spiral path and type gets smaller as it descends down the path.
    let say font size from 48 to 8.
    is there any solution?

    I know the post is old, but someone may save me here!



  54. 69

    Wayne Schwisow

    November 21, 2013 6:53 pm

    Shortcuts for en and em dashes: option-hyphen = en dash. option-shift-hyphen = em dash.

    Dimo: Try this technique –


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