How to convert text to a shape in Illustrator

Need to convert text to an editable shape in Illustrator?

Converting your text to an editable shape in Illustrator will allow you to easily customize your text, combine the text with other shapes, or even use the text as an image mask.

Outlining the text is also a good idea if you are planning to hand off the .AI design file to a print shop or another designer so that they won’t need the original fonts installed to access the file.

Fortunately, converting your text to an editable shape is one of the easiest tasks to perform in Illustrator!

Here’s how to do it:

How to convert text to shape in Illustrator

  1. Open your Illustrator project file
  2. Type your text in the desired font
  3. Select the text you want outlined as a shape
  4. From the top menu, click Type > Create Outlines

Why we convert text to shapes: 

As previously mentioned, a huge benefit of converting text to shapes is to eliminate the need to download fonts as you pass a project to another person. There are additional benefits to converting texts to shapes in Illustrator as well. 

When text is converted to a shape you are able to make adjustments to the shape that would otherwise be difficult to make to the text. Such as manually adjusting the font to create something entirely unique. 

Saving a line of text as a shape also streamlines your ability to reuse the text in future projects, as you can quickly and easily upload the shape without needing to re-type the text. 

How to adjust the shape: 

Once you have successfully outlined your text as a new shape, it is time to edit that shape as you please. 

Here is how you can edit the shape: 

  1. Select the Direct Selection Tool (A)
  2. Click-and-Drag to select a letter or section of the shape you wish to edit
  3. Select any Anchor Point and Drag it to create new shapes out of the text

If you are unsure where an anchor point is or if it is correctly selected, look at this image and see the difference between selected and unselected anchor points.

The letter T in the word ‘Text’ is selected, and the small squares on all corners are anchor points. The bottom left corner anchor point is filled in blue, showing that as the selected anchor point which was dragged down to create that unique shape. 

Adjusting multiple letters: 

As you can see in the image above, we have selected a few individual letters and changed their shape. You can make continual adjustments to multiple parts of your shape by holding Shift and Selecting the letter you wish to adjust. 

You can also move whole letters from the shape using this method as well. We recommend playing around with this method to become more familiar with its uses. 

Frequently Asked Questions: 

My text was not correctly outlined when I converted it?

Sometimes certain fonts are tricky to outline and converting them into a shape may not work perfectly. Oftentimes this error occurs because Smart Guides is not selected. To remedy this, go to the View panel in the Top Menu and make sure Smart Guides has a checkmark next to it. 

Can I save multiple lines of text as a single shape? 

Yes! You can convert multiple lines of text into a single shape. Simply select all the lines of text and outline them as shown above. 

If you are having trouble selecting multiple lines of text, be sure that they are all within the same layer. If they are not, merge the layers together to convert them into a shape. If you need help merging layers in Illustrator, click here

Can I revert the shape back to text? 

Unfortunately, there is no method to reverting a shape back to text after edits have been made. However, if you did not make any edits to the shape you can easily revert it back to text by selecting Undo (Command + Z)

How do I change the color of the shape? 

Using the Direct Selection Tool, select the text or individual letters you wish to change the color of. 

In the Properties Panel under Appearance, click Fill and change the color to anything you wish. 

You can also add and change the color of the outline on your text. Simply select Stroke located under the Fill option and pick a size and color. 

How do I adjust the overall size of the shape? 

If you wish to adjust the size of the entire shape first select the whole shape using the Direct Selection Tool

From there, you can easily Right Click and hover over Transform. Then select Scale and adjust the size of your shape. 

You can also adjust the scale by using the Top Menu instead of right-clicking. Both achieve the same result.