How do I vertically center text in a box in Illustrator CS5? I cannot find a way to do that; in InDesign, it's a click away!

  • 8
    Adobe is so very broken in so very many ways. Vertically centering type should be a setting in Paragraph - along with all the "Area Type options" - Why are there categorized sub-menus for things like type and color, but then other things are hidden in the application's main menu? If there are sophisticated type tools, allowing horizonatal centering, kerning, paragraph indentation etc. there should be a tool for vertically centering - its just another dimension. Final point - its FAR easier to find out how something really works with a Google search than Adobe's own app help. Jan 27, 2013 at 8:51
  • @WildOutWest Welcome to GD! I converted your answer to a comment because it wasn't really answering what the OP had asked. When you have some more rep on the site you will be able to post comments yourself.
    – Yisela
    Jan 28, 2013 at 6:13
  • It's not possible to do this in Illustrator CS5. See the answers below for workarounds.
    – CrazyTim
    Aug 19, 2013 at 21:57
  • Here is a video on how to do it: screencast.com/t/o9tqN3PuFSSU
    – user18602
    Dec 29, 2013 at 18:32
  • Drives me crazy about these feature gaps between indesign and illustrator that are clearly needed. I can't do any decent effects on text in indesign and my layout capabilities are severely crippled in illustrator.
    – Jestep
    Apr 1, 2014 at 18:33

5 Answers 5


The "key object" align function is really handy for this.

  1. Select the objects in question (presumably your text frame and an image or background.

  2. Click on your key object again, that's the area you're aligning to. You'll notice that it gets a selection border that's three or four times thicker than normal.

  3. Now you'll find that the align to indicator (in the panel or the control bar) shows a little key icon. When you use any align option, everything aligns itself to that object.

  • 1
    This is by far the most correct answer here. Thank you. May 14, 2013 at 15:41
  • 1
    why does nobody post screenshots...
    – JGallardo
    Feb 26, 2017 at 1:57

As Yisela explains, you need a workaround. Here's the best I've found, along similar lines to Yisela's but a bit more automated:

  1. Get the Fit Text To Content script from Kelso Cartography (download, or see example and code in this answer in case link goes down). Install (copy to illustrator folder/ presets/[language]/scripts, reboot illustrator).

  2. When you're happy with everything about the text except its alignment, make sure there's some other element that they can be aligned against.

    • If you're centre aligning, that's usually easy, there's probably some image or frame you're centre-aligning against (if not, use same method as bottom align).
    • If you're bottom aligning, that might not be so easy as you probably don't want it right flush against any container. Easy answer: create a clear (no fill, no stroke) rectangle as a wrapper that exactly overlaps each text box, send it to back, group each text-box/wrapper-rectangle pair, then do stepd 3 and 4 below in isolation mode (double click the group).
  3. Select each text area and run the script. Be aware of things like line spacing and paragraph spacing affecting the total area. E.g. you might end up with extra space at the bottom of the text area, in which case, add balancing padding at the top.
  4. Use the Align window... Window > Align if it's not already visible or docked.
    • For centre align, in the Align palette switch Align to to Key object, make sure the thing you're aligning against is above your text frame, then hit the Vertical Align Center button
    • For bottom align, just select both text and object and hit the Vertical align bottom button.

If/when you need to change the text and re-align, just run the script again (it can stretch the text box out to accommodate overflowing content, as well as shrinking it down), and align again.

Not quite as simple as in InDesign, but hitting two buttons after each content change isn't so bad.


From Illustrator text Vertical Align (check the link for tutorial):

I noticed in a few forums people wanting to use vertical align and a little frustrated at why they can’t. The reason is that Illustrator isn’t a layout application (and neither is photoshop) though people use it for that purpose. InDesign is the layout application and yes InDesign has vertical alignment of text boxes.

If you want a text to be centered vertically with the image holder, select the items you want to align and use the “align” pallet. You also might want to play around with the “align to” area in the bottom right part of the palette. Also to note is that when you have at least two objects selected the icons in the align palette show up at the top in the toolbar.

The trick is the change of mindset, don’t align the text to the text area, but the text area to something else.

  • 6
    From windows engineer : When something don't work as expected, just call it new default
    – menardmam
    Sep 26, 2012 at 21:10
  • 5
    A bug? Nah, that's a feature!
    – Yisela
    Sep 26, 2012 at 21:30
  • Ah i understand.. it's two different company (indesign and illustrator) that whant to make thing different to get and edge on feature.... or maybe NOT :-(
    – menardmam
    Sep 26, 2012 at 21:46
  • @menardmam Yes and no. It may be deliberate, you know to differentiate the products. If you could do all the sane things with all adobe software why sell 3 different products?
    – joojaa
    May 4, 2014 at 19:39
  • the link seems broken
    – Benedikt
    Nov 16, 2017 at 7:49

Another thing you can do is change the text to outlines. Highlight the text then go go to Type > Create Outlines. Then, the text behaves more like objects and can be aligned.


The short answer that works most of the time is to enable area type Auto Size available in Illustrator CC (Type > Area Type Options > Auto Size) and use the Align tools to vertically align your text box with a container or other object.

Of course, this means you'll have to hit that Vertical Align Center button again when you change your text height.

Start there, and try the more advanced answers if that doesn't work for you.

  • You might want to point out that the Auto-Size option is only in newer versions. This question is originally from 2012, before there was that option.
    – Scott
    Jul 10, 2015 at 10:27

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