Tag Archives: Adobe Illustrator

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.

Outlining Text in Adobe Acrobat

Update 27 July 2012: This article describes how to outline text in Adobe Acrobat  versions 7, 8, and 9. A newer article has information about outlining text in Acrobat X.

Okay, this post does not have much to do with typography per se, but we’ve all been (okay, not all of us) in that situation where we need to replace a graphic or make a small change within a PDF or EPS file at the last minute. The deadline is approaching, the printer is waiting, your designer just left for a three-week vacation and took her files with her, or worse, your designer isn’t on vacation, but doesn’t understand what it is you want to begin with. So, you throw up your hands, figure you know enough Illustrator to get yourself into trouble, and decide it would be faster to fix it yourself.
You open the PDF or EPS file in Illustrator, and what do you get?

Adobe Illustrator error: Font Problems

A message saying you don’t have the fonts installed on your computer. Of course! If you proceed by clicking Open, the type with the missing font will be reformatted using a font that you have installed on your system, thereby, undoing your designer’s beautiful typography. Whatever you want to fix isn’t worth that headache.
What you should do instead is open the PDF or EPS file in Adobe Acrobat Professional or Extended and convert the text to outlines.
A few notes before you should consider doing this:

  • 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 screwed. Call your designer who’s on vacation; she’ll need to modify the source file. (You will owe her for the rest of your life.)

This procedure used to be fairly straightforward until Adobe released Acrobat 7 a few years ago. Now, it’s a little tricky. Follow the steps below to convert text to outlines in Acrobat Professional or Extended:

  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 Document, select Watermark, and select Add.
    The Add Watermark window opens.
  3. Type a period (or any other character) in the Text text box.
  4. Drag the Opacity slider to 0%.
    Add Watermark window
  5. Click OK.
  6. Click Advanced, select Print Production, and select Flattener Preview.
    The Flattener Preview window opens.
  7. Select the Convert All Text to Outlines check box.
  8. Select the pages you need to convert to text from the Apply to PDF group.
  9. Click Apply.
    Flattener Preview window
  10. If Acrobat warns you that the operation cannot be undone, click Yes to proceed.
  11. Click OK to close the Flattener Preview window.
  12. Click File and select Save As to save your outlined text PDF as a different file from your original.
  13. 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 in Adobe Illustrator

Leaded or Unleaded?

To understand leading (pronounced “ledding”), you must understand where the term comes from. It’s called leading because typesetters used to manually insert metal strips, made of lead, between rows of type. The more leading the typesetter added, the more space that appeared between the lines of type.
Leading is measured from one baseline to the next baseline.

Leading is measured from one baseline to the next baseline.

Leading is the space between lines of type. Technically, leading is measured from baseline to baseline. The default leading for body text is approximately 120 percent of the point size of the type. For example, 12-point type would be set with a leading of 14.4 points (written as 12/14.4). The default isn’t always appropriate. If fact, it’s rarely appropriate.

Relying on default leading settings can get you into trouble. Headings, text set in large type, and text set in all caps requires less leading.

It may seem counterintuitive, but often the larger the type, the less leading is required in proportion to the type size. (Huh? That sentence made sense in my head.) For example, text set in 8-point type would require 10 points of leading, but 72-point type might require only 72 points leading, or no additional leading, which is also called “set solid.”

Computer applications vary on how they measure leading. Some word processors like Microsoft Word measure leading as the difference between the type size and line height. For example, such design applications as Adobe InDesign, Adobe Photoshop, and Adobe Illustrator show type set at 12/14 as you might expect as 12-point type on 14-point leading. Word, however, shows type set at 12/14 as 12 points with 2 points of line spacing (which is essentially the same as 12/14). Note that paragraph spacing is different than leading in that paragraph spacing is the space between distinct paragraphs of text.

Deciding how much leading your text requires is not a straightforward process, because, in addition to type size, you must also consider x-height and line length. I can’t offer a formula for determining the amount of line spacing required for comfortable reading; it’s a matter of aesthetics. As you consider the proper line spacing, take the following factors into account:

  • Font Size. Normal text of 10 to 12 points is generally set with one to two points of line spacing. Smaller fonts require more line spacing to be legible. Likewise, large heading or display type will likely require less leading in proportion to the text size.
  • X-Height. X-height is the distance between the baseline and median of lowercase letters. The larger the x-height, the more leading is required because the reader needs more space to recognize the word shapes.
  • Line Length. Longer lines of text require more line space to prevent the eye from reading the same line twice. Lines of 75 characters or more should be double-spaced. Keep your body text between 35 and 70 characters for easy reading.
  • All Caps. Type set in all caps requires less leading because there are no descenders hanging below the baseline, and therefore, there is no chance of collisions between the descenders of one line with the ascenders of the following line.

Notice how fine print and disclosure statements commonly ignore these guidelines. Fine print is typically set in 8-point type or smaller, use a typeface with a large x-height, and little or no leading. Breaking with these guidelines makes the text unreadable, and, if you ask me, attorneys do this on purpose because they don’ want anyone to actually read the disclosures. Follow the guidelines I have outlined here when setting the leading for your own text. After all, you want people to actually read it.