Ok, so I've been using Illustrator for years, and this is something I haven't gotten around to figure out..

In my line of work, I need to be precise with my lettering. If I want a text height of 20mm, that's what I expect to get when I type 20mm in the Text Size box.

But when I outline the text to check, it's only 15mm tall.

Text Height Problems

  • 3
    Entirely dependent upon the font file and how it was constructed. This is not an Illustrator issue. It's an issue with that font.
    – Scott
    Dec 4, 2014 at 20:51
  • 1
    @Scott: I'd hesitate to call it an "issue".
    – Jongware
    Dec 4, 2014 at 20:57
  • 1
    @Jongware issue doesn't inherently carry a negative connotation. I just mean issue as in aspect or characteristic.
    – Scott
    Dec 4, 2014 at 21:09
  • Thanks for the replies. For sign-making I primarily use FlexiSign, which handles the same exact fonts in a completely different way. If i set the height to be 20mm, that's what I get on a "T, I, H" etc. while "O, G, S" and so on. are a little bit taller.. I'd just love to have that opportunity in Illustrator as well, as I can't understand why it's supposed to be any differently. And having to ruin the text by outlining it, making it un-editable is a pain.
    – bjoernar
    Dec 5, 2014 at 13:36

1 Answer 1


I suspect illustrator is setting the ascender height to 20mm, and that may or may not correspond to a letter's height.

To clarify: when a type designer makes a font, he/she sets the measurements for ascenders and descenders in the font information. But when they draw the letters, they do not necessarily fill the whole height. And in fact, in most typefaces not all letters are the same height (round letters have overshoot, for example)

So if you want the letters to be an exact height, you'll have to convert to outlines first

  • 1
    Actually, the 1-em font height may be not Ascender+Descender either -- you should take a look at Zapfino, for example, which goes out of those bounds with due flair. It's all up to the designer.
    – Jongware
    Dec 4, 2014 at 20:56

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