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In Illustrator CS5 Essential Training, author Mordy Golding explains the core concepts and techniques that apply to any workflow in Illustrator, whether designing for print, the web, or assets for other applications. This course includes a detailed explanation of the elements that make up vector graphics—paths, strokes, and fills—and shows how to use each of Illustrator's drawing tools. Also demonstrated are techniques for combining and cleaning up paths, organizing paths into groups and layers, text editing, working with color, effects, and much more. Exercise files accompany the course.
While point text objects are easy to create and easy to move around your document, their nature is unstructured. By that I mean, there's no shape or area that contains that text, so if you're working with a lot of copy, making edits to point text objects can be quite tedious. Area text and context is different. That's because area text objects have structure. Another way to define area text objects is that it flows within the confines of some kind of a shape or a container. Let's take a look at this example over here.
It's the back of the card that lists the instructions for caring and for planting plants, and if I use my Direct Selection tool to go ahead now and select this shape, you can see that there is kind of a boundary here that contains the text within it. As I mentioned before, area text has something called text flow. So when you make an edit to type, the rest of the type in that object is also affected. For example, in this case I'm going to switch over here to my Type tool and let's say I find out that there's some misinformation here that these specific plants are not acid loving plants.
So I need to remove this one sentence over here. So if I now go ahead now and I to click and drag to select the elements right here, I can press Delete and notice that all of the other text moves up accordingly. Let's see how we actually create an area text object. I'll hold down my Command key and then click on the artboard here to deselect that. Once I release the Command key, I'm going to return back to my Type tool and if you'll remember when we created a point text object, we used the Type tool to simply click on the artboard. While there is a separate Area Type tool inside of the Tools panel, there's really no need to use it specifically because we can just work differently on artboard with the same Type tool.
So to create an area text object, I'll think back to the technique that I used to draw a rectangle. I'll position my cursor, I'll click and drag to draw some kind of the shape, and then once I release the mouse I'll now see my text insertion point blinking inside of that shape. So for example, now I could start adding some type. I'll type in over here 'Plant in well-drained acid soil.' Now watch what happens when I start adding additional copy. Remove from metal or plastic container.
See that as I type, the text automatically reflows to fit within the area that I created. This is the main attribute of an Area Text object. I defined an area and now text can live within that area. One of the great benefits of working with area text is that if I now choose to change this shape, the text that's inside that shape will also automatically reflow. So I'll switch back here to my regular Selection tool, I'll now adjust the width of the shape by clicking on the handle on the side, and notice what happens now as I click and drag.
Illustrator actually previews in blue how that text is going to reflow. Notice that right now all of the text fits on a single line. If I were to make this area a lot narrower, you can see now that it takes four lines of text to display it. I'll make it just a little bit wider here, and I'll show you that there are also some additional settings that apply specifically to Area Type objects. You can find these settings by going to the Type menu and choosing an option here called Area Type options. This brings up a dialog box, which has a Preview setting and in addition to showing you the width and the height for the area that you've just defined, you can also set in number of rows and columns for that text.
For example, if I want two columns of text here, I could change its value to two. Illustrator automatically takes my overall shape and divides them into two even areas, called spans, with a gutter area in the middle. You can adjust this gutter value by changing the setting right here. Additionally you can use the Offset settings here to specify that the text does not match up exactly towards the edge of this shape that you've created. This gives you a little bit of a buffer space and could be useful if you want to actually have some kind of a stroke appearance here and you don't want the text to actually touch that stroke.
If you're working with both rows and columns, you can also choose exactly how that text will flow across those rows and columns. Let's take a look at another way to create an area type object inside of Illustrator. I'll click Cancel here and rather than starting with the actual Type tool, I can create any shape inside of Illustrator and then turn that shape into an Area Type object. For example, I'm going to use my Ellipse tool here to simply click and drag to draw a circle. I'm going to use my same Type tool right now, but notice that now when I move my cursor over this shape the outside of my cursor to these parentheses. See when I move it outside the shape here it's a box, but when I move it here over this shape, it changes to those rounded edges.
That indicates that if I click right now it will convert this object to an Area Type object. So I'll click and now you can see that I have a blinking insertion point inside of this shape. As I add text here, I can the see the text will now flow within the confines of that customized shape. There is one important thing to note about working between both point text and area text and that's because of some of the settings inside of Illustrator, it can be somewhat tricky to find out what type of object you're working with at any one time. So let me explain what I mean by that.
I'm actually going to go ahead now and delete this shape and I'll delete this one that I created earlier as well. At the moment, I have a feature turned on inside of Illustrator called the bounding box. The bounding box is a great feature that allows you to actually resize your artwork or to rotate that artwork without having to use separate tools. You can do it directly with your Selection tool. So with my Selection tool, if I click on this point text object, I see the bounding box around the object itself. Even though that I know right now that this a point text object, I might mistake in this for an area text object because I might think that this bounding box is actually the frame for an area type object.
For example, I'm going to use my Type tool here to click and drag to define an area type object and I'll type in the same words, Bermuda Buttercup. A real easy way to make this typography match what I see right here is to actually select it, change to the Eyedropper tool, and then click on the text that you'd like to copy. That makes my selected type match the type that I'm clicking on. So now I have two objects. This right here is an area type object. This one is a point type object.
See that with the bounding box option, and when using the Selection tool, they both appear quite similar when they're selected. However, if I click on the edge over here and I resize this Frame, because my text is centered, my text now gets centered inside of the overall frame. Likewise, if I were to resize my frame, so it's more narrow, there's no room for the word Buttercup, so I can actually extend this downwards and see that it automatically puts it on two separate lines for me. But if I click on the word Bermuda Buttercup down here, which is the point text object, and I now try to resize it by clicking on this handle and dragging it, see how the text actually get stretched as if it's artwork.
That's because this is a point type object, so I'm actually stretching the Type itself. Whereas in the previous example where I was using area type, all I was doing was just scaling the frame that the type is inside of. So I'm not scaling the type. I am the scaling the frame that contains the type. I'll press undo here and the way to really kind of make sure that you don't make this mistake is through one of two methods. I can either make sure that when I'm working with text I'm using my Direct Selection tool. That's because when you use a Direct Selection tool, the bounding box does not come into play.
So notice that here this is my area text frame, but when I click on this object right here I can instantly see it, it's a point text object. The alternative is to actually disable the bounding box feature when you're working with topography. The keyboard shortcut to toggle the bounding box on and off is Command+Shift+B on the Mac or Ctrl+Shift+B on Windows. Alternatively, you can find the option here inside of the View menu and the option here would either say Hide Bounding Box or Show Bounding Box. So at this point you now know how to create the two kinds of type objects inside of Illustrator that are most common, point text objects and area text objects.
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