Monthly Archives: July 2012

Outlining Text in Adobe Acrobat X

This article describes how to outline text in Adobe Acrobat X. An older article has information about outlining text in Acrobat versions 7, 8, and 9.

16 April 2013: It looks like Adobe broke this feature with an update to Acrobat. Fortunately, a trick that worked in prior versions still works, but it adds a couple of small steps to the procedure. I have updated this article accordingly.

By far, the most popular article on this blog is about outlining text in Acrobat, a task that became notoriously difficult after Acrobat 6.. An update post for Acrobat X is long overdue.

The Scenario

Here’s the scenario I posed in my previous article on outlining text: you need to make a small change to a graphic file, the deadline is looming, all you have is a PDF, you don’t have access to the source files, and you don’t have the fonts installed. Without the fonts, you can’t open the PDF in Illustrator without jacking up the text. You can’t wait to get access to the source file because you’ll lose your place in your commercial printer’s queue. What do you do?

The proposed workaround is this: open the PDF in Acrobat, outline the text, save your changes, open the PDF in Illustrator, and make your minor adjustments there.

Outlining Text in Acrobat X Pro

In Acrobat X, the process of outlining text is much easier than it was in versions 7, 8, and 9. Adobe restored the ability to outline text without having to fuss around with watermarks or other workarounds. The trouble is finding the feature. It’s buried in the Flattener Preview window, which is buried in Adobe’s answer to Microsoft’s ribbon based navigation.

Again a few caveats before proceeding:

  • The text will retain its formatting, but will no longer be editable.
  • If the PDF is going online, screen readers for the visually impaired will not be able to read it.
  • If the problem you want to fix is textual, you’re pretty much screwed. You’ll need to edit the source files.

Follow the steps below to convert text to outlines in Adobe Acrobat X Pro:

  1. Open the PDF or EPS file in Acrobat.
    (You want to open the file in Acrobat, because Acrobat will display the type correctly, using fonts embedded in the file, even if the fonts are not installed on your computer.)
  2. Click Tools and click Pages.
  3. Click Watermark and select Add Watermark.
    The Add Watermark window opens.
  4. Type a period (or any other character) in the Text text box.
  5. Drag the Opacity slider to 0%.

    Applying a watermark in Acrobat.

    You’ll need to add a textual watermark before outlining the text. Kick the font size down and set the opacity to zero so the watermark doesn’t interfere with the appearance of your document.

  6. Click OK.
  7. Click Tools and click Print Production.
    If you don’t see the Print Production panel under Tools, do this:
    a. Click the View menu.
    b. Select Tools.
    c. Select Print Production.
    The Print Production panel opens under Tools.
  8. Click Flattener Preview.

    Accessing Flattener Preview can be a little tricky.

    The Flattener Preview window opens.

  9. Select the Convert All Text to Outlines check box.
  10. Select the pages you need to convert to text from the Apply to PDF group.
  11. Click Apply.
    Flattener Preview settings

    Simply select the Convert All text to Outlines check box.

    If Acrobat warns you that the operation cannot be undone, click Yes to proceed.

  12. Click OK to close the Flattener Preview window.
  13. Click File and select Save As to save your outlined text PDF as a different file from your original.
  14. Close the file in Acrobat and open it in Illustrator.
    You’ll notice that the text displays as it should, because it’s outlined. You can’t edit the text, but at least you can change the graphics to your heart’s content.

    Outlined Text

    Outlined text displayed in Illustrator. In this example, “Fonts!” is selected with the Direct Selection tool.

What’s a Web Font, Anyway?

For years now, web typography has suffered under the weight of severe limitations. Limitations of both technology and licensing restrictions have forced designers to rely on a handful of widely available fonts, installed locally on the end-users’ computers, and which resulted in the proliferation of such typefaces as Arial, Georgia, Tahoma, Times New Roman, and Verdana. To ensure that the integrity of a web page’s design would remain intact across a variety of web browsers and operating systems, designers relied on these few fonts because they could be found on a variety of platforms.

Although web fonts are not a new technology (the @font-face rule was introduced on the CSS 2.0 specification way back in 1998), disparate font formats, reticent font foundries, and slow connection speeds prevented any significant use or development of web fonts.

So, what is a web font? A web font is a font resource that is served to the web browser remotely. Sort of like an image on a web page; a reference in the HTML points to the image’s location on the web, and the image is then downloaded and displayed in the web page without the end user even having to think about it. By the same token, a web page’s CSS references the internet location of a web font, the font is downloaded, and the font is used to style the text that the user sees.

What's a Web Font?

Web fonts are resources called by a web page’s CSS, downloaded to user’s computer, and used to display the text on the page.

The web font can be self-hosted by the owner of the web page or it can be hosted by a third-party service that specializes in serving fonts online. Font hosting services include Google Web Fonts, Adobe Typekit,, and more.

In short, web fonts allow designers to break away from the tried and true (and boring) web-safe fonts and display text in the variety of typefaces we have become accustomed to seeing in print.

I’ll discuss the various options for including web fonts on your web site on this blog over the next few weeks. If you can’t wait, you can sign up for my webinar on web fonts, which is happening July 19.