I've created a rectangle, and I want to cut some text out of it, so that the text will appear as the background pattern.

I expected to be able to achieve this by selecting the rectangle and the text, using Pathfinder > Minus Front - however this hasn't worked. I've tried searching for the solution everywhere and can't find an answer.

Can anyone tell me where I'm going wrong?

How do I cut out / minus / subtract text from a shape / object in Adobe Illustrator?

  • Please explain in more detail what you want to accomplish. I Don't believe you need to outline text and it is highly unlikely (but it is possible) you need to "cut" the text from a rectangle. A sample image would help a great deal.
    – Scott
    Oct 30, 2012 at 16:57
  • im having the same issue. aslo using CS6. I have done this a million times before. in fact i have done it yesterday! and now POOF it wont work. frustrated because you would think I know what i am doing since i did it just yesterday. SIGH.
    – user37004
    Jan 14, 2015 at 14:11

7 Answers 7


Sometimes the path direction causes the effect to not be visible. After creating outlines from the text, try selecting the outlined text as well as the rectangle and create a Compound Path via the Object menu.

  • Thanks, Georgey! :) Object > Compound Path > Make did the trick. Dec 25, 2015 at 4:39

I managed to find a good solution using Illustrator CS5.5. Like they mentioned earlier in the post, create your filled rectangle. Next place your choice text on top. Then transform text into paths (Type > Create Outlines). Finally select both type and rectangle and Alt+Click 'Minus-Front' command to create a Compound Shape. That should do it!

I added a drop shadow for a nice 3D effect on my button. (Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow)


Why do we need to convert the text to outline (Create Outlines/Convert to Curves)?

  1. Simply type the text using the Type tool
  2. Place the image or create a rectangle filled with a Gradient/Pattern etc.
  3. Send the image or rectangle behind the text
  4. Select both text and image/rectangle and hit: cmd+7 (Mac) or Ctrl+7 (PC) to make it a Compound Path... Done!
  5. You can still edit the text while still in a Compound Path.


  • 1
    Welcome! Please do not add your email adress here ...
    – Mensch
    Feb 26, 2016 at 9:34

You just need to convert the type into paths first: right-click on the type element and choose Create Outlines. Then select both objects and click the button 'Subtract from Shape Area' in the Pathfinder panel (from version CS6 on the button is worded 'Minus Front'). The text element needs to be above the rectangle – if the text is below, click the 'Minus Back' button instead.

  • Thanks for the response, but I can't find a "Convert to Paths" option - I've got "create outlines", but that doesn't work either!
    – Wilf
    Oct 29, 2012 at 12:15
  • Yeah sorry, it's 'Create Outlines'. (I translated literally from my German Illustrator version …) However, it should work – it does here in CS5. Please describe exactly what you do and what happens. How did you create the two objects? Is any of them part of a grouped object? What Pathfinder option did you use exactly?
    – TehMacDawg
    Oct 29, 2012 at 12:37
  • Cool, no problem! I'm using CS6. The exact process I'm going through is placing a black word on a white rectangle (both not grouped to anything), then right clicking the word and selecting "Create Outlines". I then select both the word and the rectangle and click on "Minus Front" in pathfinder. What then happens is that I can still see the outlines, but the black text itself has disappeared - I just see a white triangle with the type outlines on top of it. Any ideas? Thanks again!
    – Wilf
    Oct 29, 2012 at 13:33
  • There shouldn't be triangle...? The text should have 'cut holes' into white rectangle, the highlighted 'outlines' being the 'inner edges' of the rectangle know. To check up on that, place something else behind the rectangle or press Cmd-Shift-D to display the checker board pattern (indicates transparency of the canvas background). – If, for any reason, it's not cut out, try using the white arrow (Direct Selection) tool to select each type outline and press delete to remove them.
    – TehMacDawg
    Oct 29, 2012 at 15:45
  • 1
    Under some circumstances it might be necessary to keep the Option key pressed when clicking 'Minus Front' (not sure about the exact key in the Windows version.)
    – TehMacDawg
    Nov 7, 2012 at 19:10

Create any shape, then write some text on the shape, select both shape and text by pressing shift key, clik on text and shape ok. Go to the pathfinder and click minus front. your work is over, this can create text cut on shapes.

  • Hi user27904, welcome to GDSE and thanks for your answer! What do you mean with 'click on text and shape ok'? Afaik, you can't subtract s type object from a regular object without converting it to outlines first. Thanks!
    – Vincent
    Jul 29, 2014 at 13:15
  • Yes, like @Bakabaka said, this can only be done if you go type>create outlines first
    – SaturnsEye
    Jul 29, 2014 at 14:31

I had the same problem, so I used the "Exclude" button on the Pathfinder palette, instead. That "cut" the text from the rectangle I had made.


Convert to outlines and do pathfinder > merge.

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