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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 the Illustrator 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.
So we know that when working specifically with area text, I have an object or a shape that contains text within it and I also know that the text itself will reflow or adjust itself within the boundaries of that shape. Well, when you are working with area text object, there is also an additional functionality that you get, something called working with theatext thread. This is the ability to actually start text inside of one text frame and then have that text flow or continue into a completely separate text frame. What some people also refer to as linked text.
However, in Illustrator we refer to this as a thread and before we understand how to create a thread, we need to focus on some of the user interface elements that appear anytime that you have an area text object selected. For example, I am going to switch to my Direct Selection tool here, and I am going to click on this area text object. Notice I can see the text and I can see the shape itself. I could see the anchor points that are used to define that shape. If I look at the upper left-hand corner of the object and the lower right-hand corner of the object, I also see these two bigger squares.
The name of these squares are ports and they help us control threading from one container or one area text object to another. To see how that works, we are going to create a separate area text object. But I want to copy some of this text so I don't have to actually retype it again. So I will double-click over here to change my Selection tool into the Type tool so I can now work on selecting this text. Here are a couple of pointers when working with selecting text. We already know that when I have a cursor blinking inside of text, I can press Command+A or Ctrl+A to select all.
No, it won't select all the elements inside of my document. Since my focus is now inside of this text object, it will just select all the text inside of this shape. But if I just want to select one paragraph, you'll find that you can do some interesting things with just clicking the mouse. For example, you already know that when you click on a word, Illustrator puts the blinking cursor at the point where you clicked. But if you double click on a word, Illustrator selects that entire word. If you triple-click with a mouse, you will notice that it will select the entire paragraph. Now that I have done that, I am going to press Command+C or Ctrl+C to copy that.
Now I want to create a new text frame, but notice that when I move my cursor outside of this frame, even though I would like to start clicking and dragging out to create a new shape, my focus is still in the existing area text object. So, in order for me to get out of that focus, I am going to hold down my Command key to temporarily switch to my Selection tool and I will click on the artboard. This will effectively deselect the text object and now I could start creating a new one. It is actually not that different from when you are using the Pen tool for example. So I am going to start over here and click and drag to draw a frame and with my cursor now inserted inside of that frame, I am going to press Command+V to paste.
I will switch to my Selection tool and let's take a closer look at what we are dealing with right here with this new text frame that we just created. First of all, when I click on it, because I have the bounding box turned on, I do see the handles that will allow me to resize the frame itself and remember, since text reflows inside of a frame, as I resize that frame, the text will reflow inside of it. Now I'll switch to the Direct Selection tool for just a moment here because I want a clearly focus on the other UI elements, mainly the two ports that we spoke about. The port that appears in the upper left-hand corner of a text frame is called the in port.
Text always flows into a text frame through its in port. The port that appears on the lower right- hand side of the object is called the out port. As you can probably guess, text flows out of a text frame through its out port. As we start to work with threads inside of Illustrator, we are going to use these ports to control how the text flows. Illustrator will help us there by putting certain icons inside of these ports. Currently both the in port and the out port of this frame are empty. That means that my text starts here and that at this point in my frame there is no more text.
So my text ends here as well. However, if I switch back now to my regular Selection tool and I resize the frame so that it is not really big enough to contain all the text, let's now take a closer look at what the ports look like. In fact, I am going to disable the bounding box for just a few moments here by choosing Hide Bounding Box in the View menu, so we could take a better look at these icons. Notice that on the upper left-hand corner the in port is still empty. Again, that means that my text begins here. However now in the out port, I now see a red plus sign.
This indicates that I have something called overset or overflow text. It means that currently my frame is not big enough to contain all of this text. So Illustrator only puts in as much as will fit. The rest of the text still does exist inside of my document. Only it is not visible. While I can certainly resize my frame in order to remedy the situation, I also have the ability to create a brand-new frame and have any overset text simply continue on and flow into the second frame. In order to do that I'm going to be using my Selection tool and I am going to be focusing once again on the ports themselves.
With my Selection tool, I am now going to click on the out port or in this case here the red arrow. When I do so and move my cursor away, I can see that a new icon appears. This is called the loaded text cursor. It means that Illustrator now has loaded up all that extra overset text and put it into my cursor and now Illustrator is waiting for me to now either click on another shape, at which time Illustrator will convert that shape to an area text object and flow the text into it, or since I don't have another shape right now to work with I can click and drag as I had done before to create a new frame.
Now we will see that Illustrator starts the text off inside of one area text object. That text now flows into a brand- new text frame and finishes here. Let's select both of these objects here and take a look at the icons inside the ports. At the beginning of my thread, my port is filled wide or it is empty. This means this is now the start of my text. The out port identifies now a blue arrow. This means that text is currently flowing out of my frame and this text frame has a blue arrow in its in port. That means that the text that I am seeing right here is actually coming in from a previous source.
Illustrator connects these two ports with a line to let me know the direction in which this text is going. Finally, if there is no more text left anymore and I have room left inside of this frame, I now see this is the end of the text, which is identified by an empty out port. One of the really nice things about working with threads inside of Illustrator is that it is really easy to edit the threads themselves. For example, I am now going to go ahead now and select just this one object right here. I am going to move it over to this part of the page. Maybe I want to add now a third text frame, but I want it to be in the middle between these two.
So I want text to start off in this frame, flow into a new text frame here, and then finally finish off on this one. In fact maybe in this case, I am going to draw a separate shape first. For example, I am going to use my Ellipse tool to click and drag and draw some kind of an oval shape. Next, I will use my regular selection tool to select the first text frame. I will click on the out port. Notice now that I get that loaded text cursor. I will now mouse over this shape and as soon as I do so, it becomes highlighted, meaning I can now click on it. When I do so, Illustrator converts it to an area text object.
But it also inserts it into the middle of the thread. So now I see that text starts here, flows into this new shape that I created and then continues on to the shape right here. I'll turn the bounding box back on now by going to the View menu and choosing Show Bounding Box. You'll see now that if I resize any of these frames, the text simply moves across all these other frames accordingly. Perhaps one of the biggest benefits or reasons for using area text objects that are threaded inside of Illustrator is how easy it is to work with that text when you're actually editing it. For example, I am going to double-click now inside of this text and notice now if I want to quickly move across these three objects, I can just use the down arrow on my keyboard to move across that text.
So often when you're thinking about text overall, we probably think about working with flowing text and text threads as being something that InDesign does or working on large documents or brochures or even newsletters. However, when working with projects inside of Illustrator, you might find that instead of using multiple point text objects, which are tedious to select, you might think about structuring your document using multiple area text objects that are threaded together in a single thread. As with almost any project if you know you going to be using a lot of text, it might make sense for you to take just a few moments in advance to better plan out how you might implement that text inside of your document.
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