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We've already spoken about some basic differences between Point Text objects and Area Text objects. For example, an Area Text object is defined by a physical frame and text fills up that frame and actually wraps with inside the bounds of that frame. In this document right here called threading.ai, I'm going to select this object here. It's an Area Type object, and I can see that I have these handles that allow me to resize the frame. And again, when I do so, the text now reflows inside of that frame.
But we also discussed that in addition to these handles that exist around the boundary of the frame, we also have these little big boxes, or what we refer to as ports. This port here on the upper left-hand corner is actually called the In port, and this port over here on the bottom right-hand side is called the Out port. Now what exactly does that mean? What does In and Out mean when referring to text? Well, it's possible in Illustrator to have some text actually start out appearing inside of one frame, and then once there's no more room left in that frame, you can have the text spill over, or overflow, into the next frame.
Whenever we have a single story and that story spans multiple frames, we refer to that as a thread. A thread is text that begins in one frame and then continues on through frames. The way that we manage these threads is through the use of the ports. Now I'm going to switch to my Direct Selection tool here for a second, so we can focus purely on the ports and we don't have to worry about the actual handles that appear around the frame itself. Notice here that the In port is empty. It's blank.
The Out port is also empty. The reason why that's important to note is because Illustrator is going to use different icons or notifications inside of these ports to let me know how a thread is actually working inside of Illustrator. Whenever I look at an In port and the In port is empty, that means that that is the beginning of the text. That's the beginning of the story. Whenever I see an Out port that is empty, that means that there is no more text. The story ends inside of this frame.
However, I'm going to switch here back to my regular Selection tool, so I get the handles here, and I'm going to grab this handle right over here on the lower right-hand corner and click and drag to make the frame smaller. Remember, I'm not resizing the text here; I'm simply making the frame smaller. In doing so, I no longer have enough room to contain all the text that was inside of this paragraph. So if I switch now back to my Direct Selection tool, you can now see that my In port is empty. That indicates to me that my story begins over here.
However, I now see a different icon in the Out port. It's a red Plus sign. The red Plus sign indicates that there is overflow text. There's more text to the story, but Illustrator has no place to put it because if you remember, when dealing with an area type object, I can only have the text appear within the bounds of that frame. If the frame is not big enough, Illustrator only displays enough text that does fit inside of that frame. What happens to the rest of that text? Where did it go? It's still inside of Illustrator, but it's not visible anywhere on the page, meaning it won't print out.
In order for me to see that text, I have to do one of two things. I can either make my frame bigger, thereby allowing more room now to have text display inside of it, or I can reduce the point size of my text so that now I can fit more text inside of the frame. There is another third option though, and that is the ability to create a thread. I can have this text pick up or continue in a completely different frame. The way that we do that is again by working with the ports. So I'm going to switch back to my regular Selection tool here and I'm going to click on that red Plus sign.
In doing so, now when I move my cursor away, you could see that it no longer appears as a black arrow, but it has a little icon here that looks like it's some text. We actually refer to this as a place icon or a place gun. This is Illustrator's way of indicating to me I have now loaded up the remainder of the text here into the cursor and now I can place that text somewhere else. And there are two ways that I can place that text somewhere else. I can either click inside the bounds of another shape-- in that case, that shape will now become a frame for that text-- or I can just click on any blank area here and Illustrator will now create a second frame.
The frame that it creates is going to match the size of this original frame, and it's going to now flow the text into this frame. Now you'll see that I still have a red icon here, because there is even more text now that exists inside of the story. And even with these two frames, I still don't have enough room to display all that text. So once again, I can click on that same red Plus sign, once again get the place cursor, click again, and now you can see that my Out port is empty. This means that there is no more text left to the story. Now I'm actually going to go ahead and click and drag to select all these three frames.
You can see that I have the first frame here, the second frame, and the third frame. I'm going to switch to my Direct Selection tool, so we could focus more on the icons that we're seeing here on the screen. Take a look at my In port right over here. It's empty. This is my indication that my thread begins here. Now you can see that in the Out port of this frame there's a blue arrow pointing outwards. That indicates that there is now text that is leaving this frame. It's continuing somewhere else. Where is it continuing? There's a blue line that connects it to this In port, and this In port now has a blue arrow inside of it.
Whenever you see an In port with a blue arrow, that means that if I look at this right now, this text is not the beginning of the story. It actually begins in a frame previous to this one. If I take a look here at the Out port of this frame, once again I see a blue arrow, meaning that there is still more text leaving this frame, going somewhere else. And if I follow the blue line, I could see it goes to here, and only now by seeing an empty Out port, do I know that that is the end of the actual story. That's the end of the text. Now the nice thing about working with Illustrator is that if I go ahead now and deselect all these shapes and I click on just this frame right here and I hit Delete to delete it, Illustrator doesn't delete the text.
It just deletes that one frame in middle of the thread. So now I can actually click on this frame and see that this frame now automatically connects to this one, and the text picks up and continues from here. Of course, if I switch now to my regular Selection tool and I make this frame bigger, as I make this frame bigger and more text fits inside of it, Illustrator automatically reflows the text here across these two frames. Now of course, one of the popular uses for working with threads is to create columns of text on a page.
So, for example, if I make this one about this big like this and I kind of take this frame here, kind of drag this up, and make this one about this big here, I have text that begins in one column and then flows to this frame and continues the text here. This is certainly one way to work with threads inside of Illustrator, although we're soon going to see now in the next movie that I have the ability to create multiple columns of text within a single frame. So the benefit of working with linked frames, or threaded frames in this case here, is that I can kind of offset them, where I have one that starts over here and then it continues to another column which picks up in a completely different place inside of my page.
Now of course, if I wanted to set up multiple pages or multiple artboards in a single Illustrator document, I can certainly have frames on each individual page or artboard and I could link, or thread, text that runs across all those different artboards. The only thing that I can't do is have text actually thread from one document to another. It only works within a single-document paradigm. So remember, the key thing to working with threads is focusing on the In and Out ports of your area textframes.
And keep in mind that if you want to take advantage of some of the functionality of working with threads, you must be using Area Type objects, not Point Type objects.
- 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