Outlining your text = Bad idea!

I worked at an in-house design agency a short while back that would do about 100 to 150 ads a week. They had a practice of outlining text before it went to print, to save them from font issues. While this can help you with a printer, one thing we learned was artists didn’t Un-Do the create outline step, thus saving over the editable version. One of the worst things you can do is click on “Create Outlines”. Now there is something to be said about taking a little time and thinking about what your doing, but 6-8 artist working on that many ads per week can ensure a mishap every so often. This short tutorial, hopefully, will save you in the future.

Here is how I prep a file for print. First, the best way to have something printed, is to send a PDF. And to do that you’ll want to “Print” a PostScript to Acrobat Distiller. Why PostScript? Postscript is what you print; it contains multiple pages, page sizes etc. Why not just “Save As..” an .EPS? Well an .EPS is different from a .PS. That “EPS” stands for “Encapsulated PostScript”. It is an element (contain graphics, text, fonts) that can be placed into QuarkXpress, PageMaker, InDesign and other applications. It may also contain a preview (TIFF or PICT) It does not contain a page size nor multiple pages.
If your in InDesign you’ll want to use the PostScript. So its best to get in the habit now, even when your doing one page designs in AI.

(Hint hint, nudge nudge… Eh-hem, I’m talking to you LAD.
You know who you are)

Where was I? Ah yes.. printing:

Once you click “Print”, on the left side click on “Advanced”. Here you are presented with your Overprint and Transparency Flattener Options. You can also see you only have three options, High, Medium and Low.

If you click Custom you’ll be presented with this window. Now while there is a “Convert All Text to Outlines” option, this is not the best way to do it. Soooo lets hit cancel in this window, and the print window.

Here is where the 5 step tutorial starts…

Click Edit->Transparency Flattener Presets…

Now your presented with this window. Lets click “New…”

I named mine “OUTLINED.” Pretty creative huh?! You can name yours anything else,
but keep it simple. The default settings are fine.

Note: you can set your Raster/Vector Balance to 100, and the Line Art and Text Resolution to 1200, then set your Gradient and Mesh Resolutions to 300. those are the setting for the [High Resolution] preset. If your PDF is to big of a file, then go in and set these back to 75, 300, and 150.

Here is the most important step… click that check box
“Convert All Text to Outlines”:

Click “OK” then “OK” again on the Presets window.

Now go Flie->Print

And again go to your “Advanced” settings.
You can now see your “OUTLINED” settings are there in the drop down.

Set all your other print settings and hit print. Once its done, you can save the document and not worry about your print settings our your outlined text. The AI file will save these settings, and your text will be safe and sound.
See isn’t that better than “Creating Outlines”, saving and forgetting to undo it. Only to find out your up against a deadline and you suddenly can’t edit the text? Id say so.

    • lex04
    • February 24th, 2008

    Great post. However, does the outline precepts remain if the file is emailed to the printer?

  1. @lex04: Good question. And the answer is, it sure does. A way to test it is once your EPS had been Distilled to a PDF, open that PDF in Illustrator and see if you can edit the text. It should all be outlined and non editable.


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