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In an earlier chapter I've mentioned that I can't draw that well, fortunately we all have a huge library of cool shapes that somebody else drew for us, they are called Fonts. InDesign lets you convert any text from any font into editable paths. In fact, there are two ways to convert text to outlines, converting a whole frame or converting just some selected text. I am going to zoom in on this word ART here and we are going to see what happens when we convert it to text. First, I will double-click on this with a Selection tool to switch to the Type tool so I can select just the letter R.
Then I'll go to the Type menu and choose Create Outlines. When you do that, you see that the text changes a little bit, the space between the R and that T got larger. That's because back when this R was actual text, it could kern properly with the T, it would adjust the space between the R and the T that was built into the font itself. Now that this R has been converted to outlines, it doesn't know anything about kerning; it can't kern in fact, so the spacing changes. We can see that this is actually an outline by selecting the Direct Selection tool and then clicking on the R.
See all the Bezier points on there, now it's actually relatively rare that you'd want to convert a single letter or a single word into outlines within a text frame but there are times when you want to do it. For example, let's say I want to apply a particular Transparency effect just to that letter. I'll go up to the Effects menu and I'll choose Bevel and Emboss and you can see that now I've applied a Bevel and Emboss just to that one character. The outline text acts like its own object inside this text frame, so you can apply an effect to it without changing the rest of the text in the frame.
Let's see the other way of converting text outlines. I am going to undo this just by pressing Command+Z or Ctrl+Z a few times to go back to the way it was and now I'm going to select the entire frame with a Selection tool. Because I have the whole frame selected when I go to the Type menu and choose Create Outlines, all of the text in that frame is converted to outlines. I will switch to the Direct Selection tool and you can see all three characters are converted to outlines and the spacing didn't change, it stays exactly the same as it was.
People have different reasons for converting text to outlines. For example, sometimes you want to change the shape of text. I am going to deselect this by pressing Command+Shift+A or Ctrl+Shift+A on Windows, and then I am going to use the Direct Selection tool to drag some of these points around. You can see that you can change it to any shape you want. I can also use my Pen tool to add points, remove points and edit this and all kinds of ways. But one of the best reasons to convert text to outlines is to put something inside those outlines.
For example, I will go back and choose this with the Selection tool, go to the File menu and choose Place and I am going to place a picture inside of here. I'll grab one of these pictures and click Open and you can see it immediately fills this with the image. It gives these letters a really interesting texture. I do not recommend people converting a lot of their text to outlines. For example, if your printer tells you that you should convert everything in your document to outlines, I suggest really grilling them on why. It's a very bad practice and almost always unnecessary.
Plus you may lose some really important stuff when converting text outlines. For example, let me pan over here so we can see the text in this frame. If I select this entire frame, go to the Type menu and choose Create Outlines, the text does change, but look what happened. Now all that text changed to outlines, but I lost a lot in the process. The background fill of course disappeared, but even worse the line that was above this URL disappeared as well. That line was created with the Rule Above feature which is a future I will talk about in a later chapter, but because it was part of the text and because those Rule Aboves disappear when you convert to outlines, I've completely messed up my design.
You really have to be careful when creating outlines, but for the occasional letter or word that may be some text that you want to apply some kind of special effect to, Create Outlines is great for that kind of thing.
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