Join David Blatner for an in-depth discussion in this video Create text outlines, part of InDesign CC 2018 Essential Training.
- [Instructor] In an earlier movie, I mentioned that I can't draw very well. Now, fortunately, we all have a huge library of cool shapes that somebody else drew for us. They're called fonts. Now, InDesign lets you convert any text, from any font, into an editable path. In fact, there are two ways to convert text to these kinds of outlines. You could convert a whole frame, or convert just some selected text. Let me show you. I select this frame from my magazine spread document in the exercise files folder, and I'm going to zoom in to 200% by pressing cmd+2 on the Mac, or ctrl+2 on Windows.
Now first, I'm going to convert just a single letter to an outline. So I'll double-click on this text frame to switch to the Type tool, and then I'll just drag over this letter A. Now I'm going to go to the Type menu and choose Create Outlines. Now this changed the letter A into the outlines of the letter A. But if you were looking closely, you might have noticed the text changed a little bit. The space between the A and the N got a little bit tighter. And that's because back when this A was actual text, InDesign could kern it properly with the N.
It was adjusting the space between the A and the N, and the I and the A. But now that this A has been converted to outlines, InDesign cannot kern it, because it's not a real character any more. So, the spacing changes. Now we can see that this is, actually, an outline by selecting the Direct selection tool, and then clicking once on it. See all these Bézier points on there? You can also see a little anchor icon attached to it, which means that this object is anchored inside the text frame.
I'll be talking about anchored objects in a later chapter. 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 some times when you'd want to do it. For example, let's say I want to apply a particular transparency effect just to that letter. I'll come up here to the Control Panel and I'll click the Drop Shadow button. That gives it a big, kind of clunky drop shadow, but it applies just to that one character. And that's because the outline text is an object inside its text frame.
So, you can apply an effect to it without affecting the rest of the text in the frame. OK, let's see the other way of converting text to outlines. I'm going to undo that by pressing cmd+Z, or ctrl+Z on Windows, a few times. There we go. That way it goes back to the way it was originally. And now, I'm going to select the entire frame with the Selection tool. Grab the black arrow Selection tool, click once on the frame, and then I'll go to the Type menu and choose Create Outlines. Now, in this case, all the text in that frame is converted to outlines.
I'll switch over to the Direct selection tool and you can see all of the Bézier points along the text. Now, in this case, the spacing did not change. It stayed exactly the way it was. Now, people have different reasons for converting text to outlines. For example, you might want to change the shape of some text. So, I'm going to de-select this by pressing cmd+shift+A, or ctrl+shift+A on Windows, and now I'm going to use the Direct selection tool to drag some of these points around. I'll just grab that L and move it.
You can see that you can change this to any shape you want. Now, of course, I could use my Pen tool to add points, or move points, and edit this in 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'm going to go back and choose the Selection tool. And now, I'm going to go to the File menu and choose Place. Here, I'm just going to pick one of these images at random and then click Open. And you can see that InDesign treats these outlines as a single graphic frame.
And it fills that frame with the image. So, this is great for a special effect. But I do not recommend people converting a lot of their text to outlines. For example, if somebody tells you that you should convert all the text in your document to outlines, I suggest really grilling them on why. Because it's a very bad practice, and almost always unnecessary. Plus, you may lose some really important stuff when you convert text to outlines. For example, I'm going to pan over here, just so I can see this text, and I'm going to select this text frame on the left page of my spread.
What if I want to convert this to outlines? If I go to the Type menu and choose Outlines, something terrible happens. Sure, all the text was converted to outlines, but I lost a lot in the process. If there had been a background fill color to that frame, that would have disappeared, of course. But even worse than that, there used to be a line, a wavy line, below that text, and that disappeared, too. And the reason is that the line had been created with the Rule Below feature. That's a feature I'll be talking about in a later chapter.
But because the Rule Below was part of the text, and because the rules below disappear when you convert to outlines, I've completely messed up my design. So you really have to be careful when you convert to outlines. But, for the occasional letter or word, or something that you want to apply some kind of special effect to? Well, Create Outlines is great for that sort of thing.
- Creating a new layout
- Inserting pages
- Adding text
- Inserting graphics
- Applying color and transparency
- Drawing and editing frames and paths
- Formatting objects
- Formatting text
- Creating styles for uniform formatting
- Building tables
- Adding links and interactivity
- Printing and exporting InDesign documents