Join Mordy Golding for an in-depth discussion in this video Setting type along a path, part of Illustrator Insider Training: Type and Text.
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Up until this point, we've been dealing with two kinds of text objects inside of Illustrator: Point text and Area text. Well, here in this movie we're going to focus on a different type of text called Path text or Type on a Path. Now, in reality, Path type is very similar to Area type. Remember that when we're dealing with Area type, we have this defined shape and the text actually is constrained within the boundaries of that shape. When we're dealing with text along a path, that path becomes the bounds for that type, so the type is only visible along that path.
For example, in this document here, I have a shape. It's a regular vector path, and maybe I want to flow this text along this part of the path right here. That looks pretty nice! I am going to use this text over here called Every day is better with flowers. Now, it's important to realize that I do have a specific tool inside of Illustrator called the Type on a Path tool. But I very rarely use that tool, because I can actually access that functionality directly through the Type tool itself. The way that I do that is through a modifier key.
So when you have your Type tool active, and you're actually working with it, notice over here that it gives me a little box around my icon there. That's because I can click and drag to create a frame, in that case creating Area text. I also know that I can just click once anywhere on my artboard to get Point text. But if I mouse over this object here, you can see that it kind of turns into these parentheses instead of a box. That indicates that if I click on this object, Illustrator will convert that object to an Area type object, and any text that I try to type will now appear inside the bounds of that object.
So until now really we've been dealing with Area type that's always been inside of the shape of a rectangle. But if I click on a circle, for example, this option will actually allow me to have text fill up the insides of that circle. But while my cursor is now over the actual path itself, I am going to hold down the Option key on my keyboard-- if you're on Windows, that would be the Alt key--and now you can see that those parentheses turn to a line. That actually turns my Type tool to be the Type on a Path tool. So if I hold down the Option key or the Alt key, and I click, let's say, just about over here where I want to start my text, you will now see a blinking cursor that appears on the path.
In fact, the path itself no longer has a fill color, because that's default behavior when you turn a path into the special kind of Path type object. In fact, if you look over here at my Appearance panel, you can see that it now says Type: No Appearance. The characters that I am going to be typing on this path will appear in black. So I can start typing words, for example Hello, and you can see that text now appears on the path. I am actually going to type the words "Every day is better with flowers," or to save myself some typing, I'm simply going to bring my type cursor over here, click once so that I now have a blinking cursor inside of this paragraph, I am going to press Command+A or Ctrl+A to select all my text, Command+C to Copy it or again Ctrl+C on Windows.
I will come back to this text over here and click on it. That will highlight it, press Command+A, or Ctrl+A to select it, and now press Command+V or Ctrl+V to paste. And you can see that now this text gets placed along this path. When it gets to the end, it simply wraps around this corner. It doesn't look that great, but that's exactly what the text does here. So now that we know how to create Type on a Path objects, let's see how we can edit this. Now, obviously my text here is kind of too long. I want it to end before it gets to the top of this point over here. I can do that in several ways.
I can press Command+A or Ctrl+A to select all my text. I can use Command+Shift+<, remember, to reduce my point size. Again, on Windows, that would be Ctrl+Shift+<. If I wanted to tighten up the tracking along this text, I can hold down my Option key or my Alt key on Windows, and then tap the left arrow, kind of bring that in so that my text is a lot more tighter. But I am actually going to press undo two times. I don't want to actually kern it that way. But I might want to have the word Every day start a little bit sooner, maybe closer to over here on the bend, as opposed to all the way over here, and that will leave me with plenty of room for the rest of the word flowers to appear on this side of the path.
So I am going to switch to my Direct Selection tool here--and this is important to realize. When I use my Direct Selection tool, I will now see that I have some lines over here. I am actually going to click and drag and move this line around over here, and you could see that I'm now moving the word "Every day" kind of to start a little bit earlier, but the rest of the words seem to have disappeared. Why did that happen? Let's take a closer look at this. I am actually going to zoom in here. We actually see a line over here and we see a line over here, and then we see these boxes.
This box has a red Plus sign inside of it. Does that look familiar? Think back to working with Area type. Remember that Area type frames have an import and an outport? Well, I told you that Type on a Path objects are very similar to Area type objects. Rather than have Illustrator just simply treat the entire path as one big object, I have the ability to place these constraints along the path so I can control exactly which parts of the path text is allowed to travel on. If we look at this line over here, this line means text is allowed to begin at this point right here.
If I look at this line, this line means that's where text ends. So I am only allowed to have text appear on the path between these two lines. So if I want now more text to appear, I could grab one of these lines, let's say, right here--and again, I am doing this with my Direct Selection tool. I'm going to click and drag, and notice now that as I move this line here, more words are starting to appear on my screen. In fact, when now all of my words are here, you can see the outport is now empty. Remember, that means there are no more words inside of that story.
That's the end of the text. Now, this line here in the middle actually identifies the center between those two points. But it also allows me to choose which side of the path I want the text to flow along, because right now this is simply a path. I can have text travel along this outside part of the path. Or if I click on this little line over here, and I click and drag and I bring it towards the inside, you can now see that Illustrator flipped that text so it now appears on the inside of this. I am going to press undo though, because I want it to be on this outside part of the path.
I am going to click over here to deselect this and zoom out a bit. As we had discussed, when you create a Type on a Path object, Illustrator turns the actual vector shape to have both a fill and a stroke attribute of none. Illustrator is just assuming that all you want to see is a text. However, I may want that shape to still be visible. So again, I'm going to use my Direct Selection tool, and I'm going to click over here on that shape so now I could actually see those anchor points. I am also going to hold down the Option key on my keyboard, and again, I am on Mac over here, but if you're on Windows, press the Alt key.
That gives you the Group Selection tool and then click again. Now, that goes ahead and selects the entire object. And if I look in my Appearance panel now, I'm actually targeting just the path itself. So I can now apply a fill value of maybe black, for example. So now I am going to go ahead and deselect this piece of artwork, and now I have text along a path, and I also have been able to apply a fill attribute to the path itself. I am still having one problem here though: my text is actually touching the path and I really want some kind of buffer space. I want to be able to have a space between the text and where the path is.
Well, this is a great example of where Baseline Shift can be very valuable when working with Type on a Path. I am going to switch to my Type tool here. I am going to place my cursor here and click once to get an insertion point, then I will press Command+A or Ctrl+A to go ahead now and select all of this text. I am going to use the keyboard shortcut now, Option and Shift and, again, if you're on Windows that would be Alt and Shift, and then press the up arrow to increase your baseline shift. In doing so, I am now moving my text away from the baseline.
If I deselect this now, switch to my Direct Selection tool, and just click over here, you can now see that the words "Every day is better with flowers" follows the path. But because I've used Baseline Shift, I now have some room between the text itself and also the path. Now, there are a few basic options which you can actually use for controlling how Type on a Path looks. I am going to switch to my Regular Selection tool and just select the entire object. I am going to go to the Type menu, choose Type on a Path, and then I will choose Type on a Path Options.
Let's move this down over here and click on the Preview button. I have several options here. First of all, one is called Flip. Flip lets me actually put the text on the other side of the path, similar to what we did manually by grabbing that center line and dragging it to the other side of the path. I also have the ability to choose how that text is aligned to the path, either by the baseline, by the center line, by the descender, or by the ascender. Nine times out of ten I am going to be using the baseline, and then I'll simply use Baseline Shift to control exactly how that text is aligned to the path.
Again, that just gives me a little bit more control, only because when you deal with these other settings, they all depend on the different font that you're using. You'll also see a setting here for Effect. Rainbow is the common effect, which basically aligns each of the characters to the curve of the path. However, I can also choose an option called Skew, which skews the text basically to follow the path. I can also choose 3D Ribbon and I can choose Stair Step. There is one more here called Gravity, which basically finds the center of your bounding area of the shape and then forces all the text to treat that center as a vanishing point.
Again, the majority of the time, I think you're going to end up using the Rainbow setting. So I am going to click OK over here, and we've gone through the steps of actually creating a Type on a Path object here inside of Illustrator. There are many uses for this: for example, if you're creating a map and you want to have the street names follow the roads, maybe you are creating some kind of logo where you have type on a curve, or of course, you might be creating some kind of type treatment or motif like we have right here. The main thing to keep in mind is that when working with Type on a Path, it's very similar to working with Area type.
And just like you have the ability to create a thread when working with Area type, where you can have text start in one frame and then continue in a completely separate frame, since you have both in and outports when dealing with Type on a Path, you can actually have multiple paths inside of Illustrator, and then use the ports to have a single string of text run from one path to the next.
- Understanding the three type objects in Illustrator
- Importing text from Microsoft Word
- Using the Glyphs panel
- Converting text into editable vector paths
- Kerning and scaling characters
- Setting indents and spacing
- Threading text across multiple objects
- Sharing styles across multiple documents
- Understanding style overrides
- Changing text with Find and Replace
- Wrapping text
- Setting type along a path
- Updating legacy text