How to outline a font

Since there are literally thousands of fonts available on both Mac's and PC's, it becomes a problem to be sure that everyone has access to the same fonts and can display your images properly (illustrator and photoshop documents). When digital art is supplied with missing fonts, a printer cannot process your file for production.

The answer to this problem is to either embed your fonts (which is possible in Adobe InDesign when exporting to PDF) or converting them to outlines (shapes with fills). Both Adobe Illustrator and CorelDraw can accomplish this task.

You can use the following procedure to convert a font into outlines using Adobe Illustrator.

In the following example the text "" is set in the font Helvetica Condensed (style 67).

basic text frame

A basic text frame in Adobe Illustrator

To convert this text to outlines, simply pull down the contextual menu (right mouse click on the PC or control click on the Mac), and select "Create Outlines" (The option is called "Convert to Outlines" in older versions of Adobe Illustrator).

Indesign right click menu

The create outline option can be found in the right click menu.

The text has now been converted to a series of outlines and fills. The reference to the font Helvetica Neue is no longer present, and it is unnecessary for anyone to have access to the original font. However: it's not possible to edit the text anymore so be sure to keep a backup copy of the section of typography you are converting in either another document or outside the canvas.

outlined text

Outlined text in Illustrator

And you're done! The text is converted to shapes with fills and ready to use as you like. Use this technique with care though as you won't be able to edit the text after you convert it to outlines.

About the author

Damien van Holten Hi there! My name is Damien. I'm a designer & developer. I’ve got a passion for awesome code and I love tea with lots of milk. I’m currently located in lovely Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

Questions, comments or just want to talk? I'm happy to get in touch with you. Don't hesitate to email me or contact me on twitter: @damienvanholten.