How to Convert Fonts to Outlines in Adobe Illustrator

Your work isn’t necessarily over after you’ve designed your vectored artwork. What happens when you send the file to someone else and then realize that he or she doesn’t have your chosen font installed? If you haven’t converted your fonts to outlines, then Adobe Illustrator will automatically fill in a substitute font in place of the desired font—which could throw off your entire design.

“Converting fonts to outlines” is a fancy term for changing the font in the Adobe Illustrator file from text to an object in order to preserve its integrity. If your specialty font is not installed on the recipient’s computer and you do not catch the error, then opening the file could compromise it and completely change the way it looks. But, if the font is converted to outlines in the first place, then the computer can read it as an image object rather than as text, which fixes the problem. You should always convert fonts to outlines so that any specialty fonts you use will not be replaced with generic ones you don’t want.

Please note that Adobe Illustrator must be installed on your computer in order to convert your fonts. All you have to do is open the file, select the font only, right click, select “Create Outlines”, and save. See the following screenshot for further clarification:

How to create outlines

When or if a font is automatically substituted by Illustrator, verify that the font is installed locally on the receiving computer. Sometimes a different file name (such as “Arial Black” instead of “ArialBlack”) can result in an unnecessary font substitution. Taking this extra step can cut down on time and prevent the recipient from having to ask you for a new art file with converted fonts.

Vector art and converting fonts to outlines work very much in tandem. It would be a waste of your recipient’s time (and yours) to send art files back and forth until you get it right. Mistakes happen regardless, but they’re less likely to happen if you know all of the ins and outs. Converting fonts doesn’t take very much time, but it can sometimes make or break your reputation with a customer!

Need more help with vector art? Click the link to read our Guide to Vector Artwork. You can also opt for a PDF version here.

Do you have any other pressing questions about Adobe Illustrator? Have you ever had a font-converting fiasco?

Jill Tooley

Jill has been obsessed with words since her fingers could turn the pages of a book. She’s a hopeless bibliophile who recently purchased a Kindle after almost 6 years of radical opposition, and she loves stumbling upon new music on Pandora. Random interests include (but are not limited to) bookstores, movie memorabilia, and adorable rodents. Jill writes for the QLP blog and assists with the company’s social media accounts. You can connect with Jill on Google+.


  1. Mandy K

    Great post, Jill!

    It’s so sad to see promotional products, team jerseys, etc. ruined by not changing text into an object. You’re right, it’s an easy step that can save everyone some time and continue to make sure that your logo looks great on your finished product!

    • Jill Tooley

      Thanks, Mandy! Converting fonts to outlines is one small step for a graphic and one giant leap for promotionalkind. ;)

  2. Joseph Giorgi

    I feel like everyone in the world knows how to use Adobe Illustrator but me—well, all the cool kids seem to know it. I feel so out of the loop. I’m still not as proficient with Illustrator as I’d like to be, but it feels like I’m learning more about it with every “how-to” post we publish. :)

    • Jill Tooley

      Don’t feel bad, I only know how to do basic things! Kelly is the Adobe Illustrator expert, so you can always ask her for a quick tip if you get stuck. :)

    • Amanda Sneed

      I’m with you Joe. I was never trained how to use any of the Adobe programs either. =( But hopefully the longer we work here and read these helpful posts, we will just keep learning more and more! You and I will just have to stick together on this stuff, we always seem to be out of the loop on the same things, lol. ;-)

      • cyberneticSAM

        I used to know it… :( It seems like just when you get caught up with it, your knowledge becomes outdated……

  3. LK

    Very helpful post! :)

  4. Jana Quinn

    I don’t know very much about Illustrator at all, so this is fantastic. Trying to wade through help files through the software or on forums is such a pain; this step-by-step tutorial makes it painless!

  5. Juliette

    Excellent guide, Jill! This is a common request we often have to make when we get art files (you’d think with all the fonts we do have it wouldn’t be a problem but there’s always more fonts….) Next time someone asks us what we mean when we say “convert to outlines” I’ll point them to this article. :)

  6. Scooby DOO!

    In a case where there are multiple layers you can use the selection tool, grab the text (and any other objects), click “TYPE” (top nav) and then convert outlines. Its much easier than drilling the layers and “finding” the text you want.

    That is the one thing I LOVE about ai… one task can be done ten ways!

  7. Bret Bonnet

    Adobe Illustrator rocks… to bad it’s SO expensive.

    Adobe… how about creating a “lite” version of AI?!?!? :)

    Pretty please? Pretty please with a cherry on top?

  8. lizzie

    Jill, really. You are awesome.

  9. Dan

    I used to get fonts errors when download the ai. file from website. Do you know how to solve this problem?

    • Jill Tooley

      Hi, Dan!

      If you get a font error when you open an AI file it’s because the creator of the file didn’t convert the text to outlines and you don’t have the font they used installed on your computer. If you continue to open the file, Illustrator will substitute the missing font with another font that you do have available and you will not be viewing the artwork the way it was created. To solve the problem, have the creator of the artwork convert all text to outlines or obtain the font needed and install it on your computer so that you can view the artwork properly.

      Hope this helps!

  10. Andrew Marshall

    Related problem: My fonts are coming from another source (specifically math fonts from LaTeX) to become labels in math diagrams, but illustrator doesn’t have these fonts. Is there a way to import as outline? the “place” command is almost what I want, but the placed graphic cannot be edited. (I’m unable to install fonts, as I’m on a university computer). If you have any tips that would be very helpful!


  11. Shiloh

    Hi, has anyone experienced this problem when outlining fonts? The font I’m having trouble with is “Rokkitt”. Once outlined, it becomes unrecognisable blobs. Do you know what to do about it??

  12. Amanda D.

    Shiloh, I’m new to AI, but I’m having the same problem with Baroque Antique Script. It came out very jagged and hard to read.

  13. dustin

    IMPORTANT! I would like to point out that when you outline a font and then save that file it will take away the ability to easily edit your text in the future. At that point you will be dealing with vector points which makes it extremely hard to make make sweeping changes to outlined text in an .ai file. SOLUTION, by far the easiest is to always be working with two versions of each file side by side. One .ai file WITH outlines and the other WITHOUT outlines. Example, I am currently creating a manual of trail signs, I can give my assistant an .ai file with the text outlined since he 1. doesn’t have the font (you can always just add it) and 2. he does not need to edit the text, only scale the sign up or down to put in a manual. Hope that helps.

  14. Diane


    I’m having a problem with an AI that we’re altering. I’m not sure if it’s “Overprinting” has anything to do with it, but when I select text/font that I want to outline it outlines it into a box instead of the curve of each individual letter.


  15. sameer

    hi , it was helpful, but now i have a problem when i save a ms word file as pdf and then it open in illustrator i canot edit my fonts … fonts are same like outlined… how can i edit pdf font with illustrator?… please help

  16. Sabeen

    Thanks! It worked! :)

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