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Specifically if I write text and convert it to a path, and then outset the path to make one outline, I then want to remove the "holes" from characters like O without manually going through each one individually, to produce just an outline around the text. Is there a quick and easy way to do this?

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O, A, a etc... as outlined are compound paths or "combined paths" as they say in Inkscape.

In the left there's text ABV. In the right the text has been converted to path and ungrouped:

enter image description here

2nd image: In the left Path > Break apart has been applied. That removes the holes, they are now independent shapes that can be deleted:

enter image description here

In the right the hole shapes are deleted, fill color is removed and a stroke is inserted to show the result clearly. You can make the shapes bigger without losing their placements by using outset.

There's no need to delete the hole shapes one by one. Simply select all and goto Path > Union. If needed, goto Path > Break apart and have again individual glyph outlines without holes and hole shapes.

Beware: Even quite short text generates easily 1000 nodes. Every step can take a long time. The following example took several seconds per step:

enter image description here

Make some tests with short texts at first.

If you want to fill gaps in this to get a kind of backdrop,

enter image description here

you must in practice to draw the wanted connector shape and make an union with it. Outsetting, giving a massive stroke and stretching the letter outlines individually horizontally give very poor control.

Here's a combined attempt:

enter image description here

  1. text as outlines with no holes

  2. a bridge is drawn

  3. union

  4. Path > Dynamic offset outwards

  5. Path > Simplify to make the shape smoother

  6. testing

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    Deletion of the subpaths after breaking apart isn't necessary, one can do Path > Union instead, which is much faster. For outlining a text, I would use a stroke instead. So in this case: 1. Add a stroke, same color as text, until it is as wide as you like it. 2. Path > Stroke to Path 3. Path > Break apart 4. Path Union. Instead of adding a stroke, a dynamic or linked offset can be used, too. – Moini Feb 18 at 12:42
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    @Moini Union has been in the answer originally as an alternative to deletion. – user287001 Feb 18 at 13:02
  • Perfect, must have overlooked it, sorry! – Moini Feb 18 at 18:08
  • Thank you this is exactly what I wanted to do! – Duncan Connolly Feb 19 at 4:11

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