Lesson 4. Typography & Illustrator Text Tools

This lesson is intended to help you understand the strengths of the powerful text tools found in Illustrator. Lessons include:

  1. Learn basic typography terms such as leading, tracking and kerning
  2. Learn the basic text tool found in Illustrator
  3. How to reveal additonal options in the text panel window
  4. Learn the area text tool found in Illustrator
  5. Learn the type on a path text tool found in Illustrator
  6. Understand the caveats to stroking text in Illustrator
  7. Recognize the overset text icon and how to thread or link text in Illustrator
  8. Complete the quiz for this week's lessons on the student portal

Points: 50 (+ 8.33 participation points)

Estimated assignment time: 5 hours

Due: Friday, June 8, 11:59P

4.1 Typography Terms

This lesson is to give you insight on some typography terms. These are basic terms used to descibe specific functions when using text whether is it created in Illustrator, Photoshop or InDesign. Illustrator has very powerful text tools which allow to do amazing things with text. Graphic design typically involves a mix of text and graphic elements working in tandem to get the message across. Lessons include:

  • Learning the terms leading, tracking and kerning.
  • Text panel options.
  • Download and read the .pdf TextTOOLS here.

4.2 Introduction to the Text Tools in Illustrator

In this portion of the lesson we concentrate on the 3 basic text tools available to us in Illustrator.

  • Learning the basic text tool.
  • Learn the area text tool.
  • Learn the type on a path tool.
  • How the selection tool affects text boxes.
  • Using the text panel options.
  • What is leading and how to change it in Illustrator.
  • What is kerning and how to change it in Illustrator.
  • videoWatch Video | 14:51 minutes

Disregard any references to dates/times and due dates mentioned in the videos. Follow the due dates listed here.

4.3 Continuing the Study of the Text Tools and Their Functions

Here we will discuss the use of lorem ipsum or "greek text". The demo also shows using the area and text on a path tools. Lessons include:

  • Lorem ipsum or "greek" text.
  • Pasting text into specific shapes.
  • Review the effect of adding leading to text.
  • What is tracking and how to adjust it.
  • Using the area text tool to place text inside a specific shape.
  • Using the type on a path text tool.
  • What is the overset text icon and how to thread or link text boxes.
  • What is the effect of applying a clipping mask to an object.
  • videoWatch Video | 14:10 minutes

Disregard any references to dates/times and due dates mentioned in the videos. Follow the due dates listed here.


Using lorem ipsum or "greek text" is a method of providing placeholder for text you
will update and replace later. I use it in the preliminary design stages to rough-in
blocks of text to get a visual sense of how my text will appear in my layout.
The following link provides more information and allows you to copy lorem ipsum text to
place into your own documents:
Visit this link to learn more.

4.4 The Old School Method of Stroking Text

Typically one would simply select some text and add a stroke as we have learned so far. This portion of the lesson describes why this is usually a bad idea.

  • Understanding the negative effects created when you use too heavy of a stroke on text.
  • Strokes add to both the inside and the outside of selected text shapes.
  • Selecting objects lower in the stacking order.
  • Be aware of adding additional kerning when stroking text.
  • videoWatch Video | 5:06 minutes

Disregard any references to dates/times and due dates mentioned in the videos. Follow the due dates listed here.

4.5 Outling Text in Illustrator

This lessons discusses the reason we may need to convert text to outlines in our work. We do this for 2 reasons: First, to share our files with others who may not have the fonts we used installed on their computers. Secondly we may wish to convert text to outlines to alter text for effect. Topics include:

  • Converting text to outlines creates vector shapes.
  • Intro to placing pixel-based graphics into our Illustrator files.
  • The clipping mask to crop graphics.
  • Manually altering text shapes.
videoWatch Video | 8:09 minutes

Disregard any references to dates/times and due dates mentioned in the videos. Follow the due dates listed here.

4.6 Do It!
What's in a Name?

See examples of this assignment created by previous students. Download and review the examples here.


Practice on your own and use the text tools discussed. Create a new page in a portrait orientation (8.5" x 11"). Divide the page using guides to have 2 separate designs on the page. Using your name, experiment with various fonts; try kerning and leading. Try to pick fonts that you like, or that look like your personality. Work with changing the fill color, adding strokes to see how this affects the presentation. Consider the design principles and make 2 compositions on a page. You should also incorporate a pixel-based image which adds to the theme of your personality. Use a clipping mask to crop out areas of the photograph which you do not want to be seen in the compostion. Review the video, forward to :35 - 2:18.

Please note: for me to be able to see the bitmap (pixel-based photos) in your file, you must EMBED them.
To do this follow these steps and refer to the screenshot below:

Open the LINKS panel (menu>window>links)

Select the image as shown in the screenshot

Click on the panel options as circled in red @ the top; slide down and select EMBED IMAGES(S) as shown in the red ellipse.

The result will be a tiny icon on the image layer circled in red @ the bottom


Follow the link below for additional information on using bitmap images in Illustrator:



Save your file as a .ai (the native Illustrator file format). Do a SAVE AS and name the file with your name. Convert all fonts to outlines in this file (remember, I may not have the fonts you have chosen) and submit to the Learning For Life student portal as instructed in 4.7.


Do ItPractice the lesson, then save your file.

4.7 Post an example of your work and comments to the Google+ Online Community

After you have completed your .ai file, visit the course's Google+ online community and post your comments about the assignment. I am also asking for you to post an image of your work on the Google+ site as well. To do this, with your final final Illustrator file open, go to the FILE MENU and select EXPORT. In the resulting dialog box as shown below, be sure to select JPEG (jpg) from the pulldown circled in red. Since this is not a native Illustrator format, you must use the EXPORT function.


Click the EXPORT button in the lower right corner. If the next dialog box (shown below), make your settings like the example.


Click OK in the lower right corner. Save the resulting file as you wish and upload to the Google+ community. To do this, while logged in to the Google+ site, click the PHOTOS icon indicated in the screenshot below and navigate on your hard drive to the location of your .jpg file.



The online community only accepts .jpg files. Along with your upload, describe anything new you discovered, issues you had, or comments on your experience. Visit the Google+ online community here. Once you have posted, copy the link from the Google+ site. Go the Learning For Life portal, and paste the link in the text field and attach your .ai file. Hit submit.

4.8 Review and Checklist for the Week's Lesson Assignment


Grading Check List

read text tools .pdf
watch text tools video A
watch text tools video B
watch text tools video C
watch text tools video D
practice making the what's in a name file
post to the Google+ online community (be sure to upload a .jpg example)
submit your .ai file via the Learning For Life portal and provide the link to your post
completed quiz 4 on Learning For Life portal


Testable Items

  • What are the 3 basic text tools in Illustrator we discussed?
  • What does a block of text selected with the section tool look like?
  • What is leading?
  • What is kerning?
  • Why is simply adding a stroke to text usually a bad idea?
  • What are 2 reasons we would outline text?
  • How do you save a .jpg from Illustrator?
  • What file format is used to display work on the Google+ online community?
  • What is the function of creating a clipping mask?
  • What does the overset text icon tell us?