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Add advanced formatting to text

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Learn how to apply advanced formatting options and unlock the full potential of text formatting in Adobe Illustrator.

Welcome to the world of advanced text formatting in Adobe Illustrator.

Once you've perfected basic text formatting, you can use advanced text formatting techniques to add stunning effects to your text. From applying stylistic sets to using smart punctuation, you'll uncover many techniques to help perfect your text designs.

Read on to learn how to use these advanced formatting options to attain your aspired design outcome.

Apply stylistic sets

You can apply a stylistic set to a selected text block, replacing the default glyphs in the font with the alternate glyphs.

  1. Choose Window > Type > Character Styles or Paragraph Styles.

  2. Select the OpenType Features tab.

  3. Select Stylistic Sets  and choose a set from the list.

    Add stylistic sets to a character style

    You can apply multiple stylistic sets to a range of text. To learn how to apply stylistic sets to a text selection, see Special characters.

Number formatting in OpenType fonts

You can choose different number styles, format fractions, and ordinals in OpenType fonts in Adobe Illustrator. 

Number style

  1. To change the style of existing numbers, select an OpenType font and the characters you want to modify. 

  2. In the OpenType panel, choose an option from the Figures pop‑up menu:

    • Default Figure: Uses the default style for the current font.
    • Tabular Lining: Uses full-height figures of the same widths.
    • Proportional Lining: Uses full-height figures with varying widths.
    • Proportional Oldstyle: Uses varying-height figures with varying widths.
    • Tabular Oldstyle: Uses varying-height figures with fixed, equal widths.

Format fractions and ordinals

You can automatically format ordinal numbers with superscript characters when using an OpenType font.

  1. To change the style formation fractions and ordinals, select an OpenType font and the characters you want to modify.

  2. In the OpenType panel, select the Ordinals button to turn ordinals on and off or the Fractions button to turn on and off fractions.

Use Smart Punctuation

Smart Punctuation enhances the visual appeal of your text. It searches for keyboard punctuation characters and replaces them with ligatures and fractions.

  1. Choose Type > Smart Punctuation after selecting the desired text objects or characters.

  2. Select one or more of the following options:

    • ff, fi, ffi LigaturesRenders ff, fi, or ffi letter combinations as ligatures.
    • ff, fl, ffl Ligatures: Renders ff, fl, or ffl letter combinations as ligatures.
    • Smart Quotes: Changes straight keyboard quotation marks into curly quotes.
    • Smart Spaces: Eliminates multiple spaces after a period.
    • En, Em Dashes: Replaces a double keyboard dash with an en dash and a triple keyboard dash with an em dash.
    • Ellipses: Replaces three keyboard periods with ellipsis points.
    • Expert Fractions: Replaces distinct characters used to represent fractions with their single-character equivalents.

Convert type to outlines

Select the type object that you want to modify and navigate to Type > Create Outlines.

Modifying a letterform
Modifying a letterform

A. Original type object B. Type converted to outlines, ungrouped, and modified 

Set anti-aliasing options for type

When you save artwork in a bitmap format, Illustrator rasterizes all objects at 72 pixels per inch and applies anti-aliasing to them.

  1. Select the type object, and choose Object > Rasterize.

  2. Choose an anti-aliasing option:

    • NoneApplies no anti-aliasing and maintains the hard edges of type when it's rasterized.
    • Art Optimized (Supersampling): Default option that rasterizes all objects, including text objects, by the specified resolution and applies anti-aliasing to them.
    • Type Optimized (Hinted): Applies anti-aliasing that is best suited to type. Anti-aliasing reduces the appearance of jagged edges in the rasterized image and gives type a smoother onscreen appearance.

Creating superscripts or subscripts

Superscript and subscript text (also called superior and inferior text) is the reduced-size text raised or lowered in relation to a font's baseline.

Regular fonts

  1. Select the type that you want to change.

  2. Choose Superscript or Subscript from the Character panel menu.

    Superscript and Subscript options in the Character panel menu
    Superscript and Subscript options in the Character panel menu

OpenType fonts

  1. To change characters to Superscript or Subscript, select the characters and ensure you’ve chosen an OpenType font.

  2. In the OpenType panel, choose an option from the Position pop‑up menu:

    • Default PositionUses the default position for the current font.
    • Superscript/SuperiorUses raised characters.
    • Subscript/InferiorUses lowered characters.
    • NumeratorUses characters designed as fraction numerators.
    • DenominatorUses characters designed as fraction denominators.

Specify curly or straight quotes

Typographer’s quotes, often known as curly quotes, blend in with the curves of the font. They're traditionally used for quotation marks and apostrophes. Alternatively, straight quotes traditionally serve as abbreviations for feet and inches.

  1. Choose File > Document Setup, and do one of the following:

    • To use typographer’s quotes, select Use Typographer’s Quotes, choose the language you want, and choose options for Double Quotes and Single Quotes.

    • To use straight quotes, deselect Use Typographer’s Quotes.

Pro tips and tricks

  • While using an OpenType font, select the OpenType panel instead of the Smart Punctuation dialog box to typeset ligatures and fractions.
  • You can’t convert bitmap fonts or outline-protected fonts to outlines.

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If you have a question to ask or an idea to share, come and participate in Adobe Illustrator Community. We'd love to hear from you.


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