I'm still getting a feel of Illustrator after being pretty much Photoshop-reliant. I'm doing a brochure and needed some text to be slightly heavier, so I put a 0.25pt stroke that's the same color as the text. I'm wondering if this is standard practice? Will it mess up printing? It's a paragraph of text and the client needs it to be editable and easily accessible.

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This is what it looks like when viewing on Preview at 300%. There's a bit of a misaligned outline on the text. All I did was add the stroke, is there anything else I should be looking out for in the settings?

  • if this is standard practice? Yes, it is. – user120647 May 16 '18 at 15:45
  • You can always click the EDIT link under the question to add more if needed. – Scott May 16 '18 at 16:10

Editable how? Within Illustrator - It won't be a problem. In a PDF - It probably will be a problem.

As for printing, it's not the best practice, but generally it doesn't create issues.

You will want to ensure you don't have anything set to Align to Pixel Grid. Because the strokes may align differently than the text.

  • I did a test print on my regular inkjet printer and it created a sort of outline that isn't aligned with the text by a smidge. I can't be sure if it's because my inkjet printer sucks or the stroke is causing issues. On Illustrator it looks fine. – yeontanie May 16 '18 at 15:59
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    Commercial printing won't have that issue. But, you may get some sideways looks from print providers :) Really it's best to change fonts rather than add strokes. – Scott May 16 '18 at 16:06
  • Thanks so much Scott! I guess I'll just have to see from the proofs. Okay, maybe more than a couple of sideways looks; I'm a little embarrassed now because my AI layers panel is far from professional looking. I got a ways to go with AI for sure! Thanks for the help! – yeontanie May 16 '18 at 16:11
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    Well.. :) ... typically you'd provide a PDFx file and the provider wouldn't ever see the AI layers panel. They will see a stroke around all the text though. Makes for nightmare trapping at times. – Scott May 16 '18 at 16:20

I doubt that is standard practice on big chunks of text but I've seen it and done it regularly when designing a brand and the right weight for it just feels to be an in-between (e.g. between bold and semibold). You can go lower than .25pt. I've done .1pt without issues before.

If I were you, I would first look for a heavier weight. If that's not available, I think you can go ahead but I would advise you to be cautious and really look at the impact on your text. You don't want glyphs to start butting into each other so you might want to increase your tracking a bit as well as line height. Ultimately, you'll always be better off using a heavier weight as they were designed with aesthetics and legibility in mind.

There are also other ways to add emphasis if this is your objective for this text. A change in height, color, an underline or a highlight can sometimes have the same impact on text hierarchy as a weight change.

  • Thank you so much for the response! I did a test print on my regular inkjet printer and it created a sort of outline that isn't aligned with the text by a smidge. I can't be sure if it's because my inkjet printer sucks or the stroke is causing issues. On Illustrator it looks fine. What other settings should I be looking out for? – yeontanie May 16 '18 at 15:59
  • If the stroke is a different color than the characters themselves, this could cause real registration problems if the outline is on a different plate(s) than the characters. – user8356 May 16 '18 at 17:18

Depending on what you mean by "editable", one thing to be aware of is that the default when re-sizing the font will be for the stroke width to remain the same, rather than scaling with the size of the font.

At 12pt or similar that quarter-point stroke may be just enough heavier, but if your client decides to shrink it down to 6pt it will look much bolder and your letters may start to run together, and on the other hand if it's enlarged to 48 point you probably won't even notice a difference between the original font and the version with the stroke.

You can solve this to some extent by changing the document default to "scale strokes and effects" within General Preferences (Edit menu –> Preferences –> General from my version of Illustrator); checking that box will allow you to "stretch" (click and drag) the text larger or smaller and maintain the ratio of stroke-width to font-size. However, be aware that changing the font size with the type tool will still maintain that .25pt stroke width even with this option turned on. Of courses the stroke width can always be manually re-set to maintain the correct ratio, but that may not be very easy from the client's perspective. This is also only applicable to editing within Illustrator.

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    Upvoting this for the detailed explanation on scaling; it was something I hadn't considered when using this technique (I generally do it for one-off works so I'm not usually concerned with editing). – Doktor J May 16 '18 at 21:28

Another option is to create outlines from the text, expand the stroke, and then unite all the shapes together. That will turn each character into a flattened path or compound path.

I have seen people do this before but it's not common. I do agree that using a font with a heavier weight would likely be much simpler - especially if you need to edit the text later.

  • I think the issue here is "the client needs it to be editable and easily accessible" so creating outlines is likely a no-go... – curious May 16 '18 at 19:04

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