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When preparing art work in Illustrator, is it better to rasterize texts, fonts or expand them?

I'm trying to discover, which of these options is most suitable for sending the file to a printer or client. I've used expand and it's worked well.

Does rasterize do a better job of a crisp clear text? At times it is needed, but a editable copy is always kept.

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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because there is not sufficient information for this to be answered. The reality is you want to do neither. What makes you think you much choose between these options? – Scott Feb 19 '18 at 22:20
  • I'm trying to discover, which of these options is most suitable for sending the file to a printer or client. I've used expand and it's worked well. Does rasterize do a better job of a crisp clear text? At times it is needed , but a editable copy is always kept. – M.D Feb 19 '18 at 23:31
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    @M.D No rasterizing does not make better job than expanding*. But fonts actually have extra info inside than that will afect the final pirnters output that neither rasterisation or expanding keeps around. So just send it as a PDF with fonts as is. * Unless you have magic foresight into knowing what RIP and what Printer driver/ printer is used, in which case if you know enough implementation details it is possible to rasterize better. But if you have to ask then no this is not the case. – joojaa Feb 20 '18 at 10:20
  • @joojaa I don't think that the RIP software matters that much nowadays. Most of them strip the file down and recompose it in their own methods to work with whatever printer is connected to it. I know when I used ONYX it could print the most garbage file no problem in various formats to 3 distinctly different printers. – Ovaryraptor Feb 20 '18 at 17:07
  • @Ovaryraptor depends on the RIP, anyway if you know how the internals of the printer works then you can compose the pixels the internal engine would compose. But the rip might strip or alter that data so you need to know how the rip works too since its between you and the printer. – joojaa Feb 20 '18 at 18:04
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Neither option is often mandatory.

For print production save as a PDF/X-1a and the fonts are embedded in the PDF as live type with all the benefits associated with live type.

If one can not send font files along with the Illustrator file, such as client deliverables, then creating outlines of the type is always preferable over rasterization. Although, in general terms, a PDF should be sufficient for client delivery in most instances as well. The only exception I can think of is logo development, in which case you would outline type always once the design has been finalized.

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Expand text

If you ever have to send it to pre-press where colors might need to be manipulated expanding still gives pre-press options. Expanding also creates a smaller file size so it can be easier to email.

Make sure you keep an editable copy lying too around so your client can make additional changes if they need to in the future.

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Coming from working in BOTH the design-side and in pre-press I would almost NEVER expand fonts and most certainly NEVER EVER rasterize fonts.

Unless you are working from Photoshop for some reason you lose a lot of quality when you rasterize vs. working in vector. Simply just exporting to a PDF will be sufficient in most if not all cases since by default you can have it embed fonts.

However, unless you are sending 100% print-ready, imposed, properly bled and cut marked art 9/10 as a pre-press I will have to touch your file and manipulate it. So I would just package the file with source fonts and source art file not just the pdf. InDesign handles this nicely as does Illustrator with their built-in package options.


It should be noted that I completely disagree with LateralTerminal's answer on principle. Most printers have access to UTC, or other TypeKits like Adobe so finding MOST fonts shouldn't be an issue if there are error on embedded fonts. And if that fails there's always the internet.

I can't express how annoying and how huge of a time-sink it is when I open a file and the text is jacked up or I have to make changes to fit it to a medium to print or resize the whole piece and the text is expanded. Now I have to waste more time and RE-typeset the text to get it done.

I firmly believe that you should NEVER expand text for "file size" saving purposes, there are numerous ways to save on file space without ruining the editability of a file.

A few ways are:

  1. Optimize your layer structure
  2. Delete extraneous elements that aren't being used in the final art
  3. Reduce raster dpi from 300 to 120
  4. Use Acrobat's Optimize PDF dialogue

Now the only time(s) in my opinion you should expand text is if you are using a lot of specific effects or filters that your printer might have issues with or they might not have access to. This ensures that your final design can be printed as your envisioned it without compromise.

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  • I agree with your answer. I would much rather receive the file with the packaged font. But the question was asking specifically which is better, "Rasterize or Expand?". My answer was saying Expand would be a better option from the two. The only thing I don't agree with from your answer is packaging the fonts because sometimes there's a legal issue with that. In that case expand is your only option. Even having 15,000 fonts on UTC isn't always enough – LateralTerminal Feb 20 '18 at 17:46
  • "I can't express how annoying and how huge of a time-sink it is when I open a file and the text is jacked" Yup that's every day life here for me too. For some reason everyone feels like they need to expand text so nobody else can mess with it. Anyway, I'm up-voting your answer for saying neither instead of choosing between the two. :) – LateralTerminal Feb 20 '18 at 17:53

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