8 useful tips and tools for printing in Adobe Illustrator

Orange background with sample text and Adobe Illustrator logo front and center.

The use of typography in the design is important; Everyone does it. But you don’t want your text to look like any other designer, do you?

Here, we share our best tips and tools to help improve custom typography in Adobe Illustrator. You may have heard about some of these things before, but there are plenty of hidden gems for you to discover and experience.

1. Touch the type

Touch Type is a lesser-known feature that allows you to scale, rotate, kern, or move individual characters while preserving editable text. You don’t have to create outlines, and you can still change your text at any time even after applying effects to your messages.

After typing your text, open the Character panel by going to Window > Writes > Letter. At the top of the popup, select Touch typing tool. Then you can select any individual character to edit.

Once you select a character, you can use the upper left anchor point to scale vertically, the upper right anchor point to scale proportionally, the lower right anchor point to scale horizontally, the circular anchor over the selection to rotate, or the keyboard arrow keys to kern the characters horizontally or to move up and down. You can also click and move with the mouse.

You can highlight the edited character to write a new character with the same effect, and you can change the font of an individual character to follow the same effect as well. But if you highlight the whole word to rewrite it, the effects will be lost.

2. Add glyphs

While this is not an option for all fonts, it is a hidden option for many. Find out if your chosen font comes with added avatars by going to Window > Writes > glyphs. This will open a tab showing all letters, numbers, punctuation, non-English characters, ligatures, and glyphs.

Not all typefaces come with plugins added, but if you do, you’ll find them here. Cursive fonts are more likely to present decorative glyphs.

To add a glyph, link, or diacritic, either highlight a letter and double-click the box with the new option to replace the original, or you can position the cursor where you want the new glyph or diacritical to appear and double-tap the box to insert it there.

3. Create charts

Creating text outlines in Illustrator can be useful for many reasons. For example, for logo styles that have elements added to the text, or when creating a design for a client, you should create outlines of all text to ensure that it is not edited and that the font is not lost later.

To create outlines, first, write your text. Adjust any settings you want from the Character and Paragraph panels. Once you are happy with what you have, right-click on the text and choose Create fonts.

Now your text is a path and can be edited like this. If you want to edit items, such as removing holes in letters, you can delete, move, or edit paths now. This allows you to create custom text the way you want it, but saves time since you didn’t have to create the font yourself first.

4. Redraw the text paths with the Pencil Tool

If you create outlines from your text, one way to customize them further is to draw paths on your text. You can draw to lengthen the letters, change the shape of the holes, remove the serifs, or whatever you like.

Select the text, then use a file pencil tool to draw on the text path, and it will add the new shape to the path. To remove parts of the path, draw from one anchor point to another and the small space between these anchor points will disappear.

5. Offset text

Offset text is like adding a border around the outside of the text so that it is combined instead of just selecting individual characters. Offset text is a great way to add a border around it.

The offset stroke can also be used when printing posters, making banners, or making GIFs. You can offset text after creating text outlines quite easily, but we also have a tutorial for creating editable text in Illustrator.

To offset text with generated outlines, select the path and go to Goal > road > offset path. Choose the stroke size and click yes. then on Properties panel, click to merge. Right click on the outline and go to sort > Send back. Then change the outline color to see the original text at the top.

You can easily outline text or add borders to text using Photoshop as well. This can produce a result similar to the offset text.

6. Set kerning, tracking and driving

Setting indentation, tracking, and kerning are important for readability and accessibility. Setting these settings will transfer any text from a ready-made font to professional printing in seconds.

You’ll find the settings for indentation, kerning, and tracing in a file Letter Dashboard after writing your text. These settings are also found in Photoshop; Did you know that you can make bold text in Photoshop in many different ways?

Lead sets the space above a line of text. Leaving this option on auto works fine most of the time, but if you want more or less horizontal space between lines of text you can change it by highlighting the line of text and toggling Leadership Up or down the character list – This will move any text below the line, opening or closing the gap.

Kerning is the setting of spaces between individual characters. Most fonts are fine by default, but your text will look more professional if you precisely set the spacing for individual letters yourself. Place the cursor in the gap you want to adjust and switch up or down in a file kerning option until you reach the best readability.

Finally, tracing is used to set spaces across multiple letters or words. Just highlight letters or words and switch tracking up or down to increase or decrease the spacing. This can generally be used more than kerning, and some people use it for artistic effects rather than readability.

7. Download external fonts

Using unique fonts will always give a personalized feel to your print. Here are some great places to find and download new fonts:

  1. Adobe font
  2. Dafont
  3. Fontesque
  4. Pangram Pangram
  5. Pifonts
  6. creative market

If you need help downloading fonts, check out our guide on how to install third-party fonts in macOS.

8. Writing on the road

Why write in a straight line all the time when you can write around circles or on wobbly lines? Great way to customize your text by writing on the track.

Create a path using any path-based tool — the Pen Tool, i.e. Shape Tools, the Pencil Tool. Then select and hold type tool and choose Type on the path tool. Now, when you move your cursor over the path, you will have the option to click and write on that section of the path. Click and drag the nodes to move the text around the path for the best position.

You can use your custom text for a variety of designs or even add it on top of the image. Here are the best ways to add text to an image using different software.

Up your typography game with Illustrator

With these handy tips and tools, you can transform your typography from plain to casual into fun and exciting. Custom text brings a unique touch to your design work, and it’s fun to try new ways to design. Incorporate some of these tips into your workflow and see how your text results change for the better.

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