Using Fonts in Adobe Illustrator

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posted on: October 5, 2017

A good chunk of the work I do in Adobe Illustrator involves fonts and type. Initially, I thought I could write a one-post guide to fonts in Adobe Illustrator, but I soon realized that it would take more than one post. This post focuses solely on fonts and characters.

Font Terminology

Font and typeface are not synonyms. A font is a complete set of characters (letters, numbers, and symbols) that share a common weight, width, and style. An example of a font is this paragraph text – Lora Regular in 14pt with 400 weight. (typeface, style, size, and weight). Typefaces are collections of fonts. For example, Montserrat is a typeface. Lora is a typeface. These fonts share an overall appearance. A type style is a variation of an individual font. Examples of type styles include bold, italic, regular, and bold italic.

OpenType Fonts

If you don’t install a single font on your computer, you will still have access to OpenType fonts. OpenType fonts use a single font file for both Windows and Macintosh computers. You can open a file on a Mac, and it appears the same on a PC without any formatting issues. OpenType fonts may include an expanded character sets and support more languages than fonts you purchase from CreativeMarket or MyFonts. For more information on OpenType fonts, check out this article.

Working With Missing Fonts

If you purchase one of my logo or stationery sets and have not installed the fonts, when you open the document, a window will pop up saying which fonts are missing and substitutes for the missing fonts. To make the missing fonts available in Illustrator, install the fonts and make sure they are activated in FontBook (if you have a Mac). To substitute a missing font with a different font, just select the text you want to swap and apply the other font. If you are not sure what fonts were substituted, you can always go to FILE > TYPE and select “Highlight Substituted Fonts”. Everything will show up in pink for you.

Character Panel

Under Window < Type < Character, opens the character panel that allows you to format characters of a selected text. It can also appear at the top of your workspace. Personally, I prefer to use it on the side with all of the options open.

  • Font is the active font family that you are using, such as Montserrat.
  • Font Style refers to the format – bold, italic, bold italic, regular, etc. These are specific to the font. If a font is not available in Italic, then italic will not show up here.
  • Font size is the size of the font.
  • Kerning is the space between individual characters. You can move letters closer together or further apart.
  • Leading refers to the distance between baselines of lines of type. Think of it as line spacing.
  • Tracking adjusts the spacing uniformly over a range of characters.
  • Vertical Scale increases the height of the character without changing the width.
  • Horizontal Scale increases the width of the character without changing the height.
  • Baseline Shift moves selected characters up and down relative to the baseline.
  • Character Rotation rotates the character.
  • Anti-Aliasing Method smooths the edges of the letters. It should be used for web-based projects.

Do you have a question about fonts and characters in Adobe Illustrator? If so, leave a comment below!


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