In Illustrator, how do you align text in the exact center of a shape for example without creating outlines. If I go to center text using the align palette, Illustrator aligns the text to it's bounding box.

I know you can create outlines, but I want the text to remain editable in case I need to make changes later.

Any thoughts?

  • 1
    This question has already been addressed here: graphicdesign.stackexchange.com/questions/4434/… Commented Apr 27, 2015 at 17:49
  • It also helps, when trying to center text, to make sure that your paragraph justification settings are set to "Center" on the text element as well.
    – Manly
    Commented Apr 27, 2015 at 17:53
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    It's not a duplicate as I see it since user3075987 is not asking about the bounding box, but about other objects.
    – Scott
    Commented Apr 27, 2015 at 18:19

4 Answers 4


Much of this is determined by the font file itself. Some fonts have extra leading built in which can cause odd vertical alignments.

If you find you've got a font with the odd leading, you can select the text and apply Effect > Path > Outline Object. Then in the Preferences ensure Use Preview Bounds is checked and vertically align things. This will use the visual areas to align, often resulting in better alignment without the need to outline the type.

After doing this you can remove the effect and revert the preference setting if desired.

(All these images are aligned on horizontal centers and vertical centers. The rectangle is a separate object and all type is "live" type.)

enter image description here

  • This has bothered me for years. I would typically make a copy, outline text, paste the copy, and manually align and finally delete the outline version. This workflow is so much better. One thing to note for future readers, and not to state the obvious, but the "Outline Object" filter does not allow others to open the Illy file without having said fonts installed on their machine. Anyway, thanks Scott!
    – mhulse
    Commented Sep 4, 2015 at 18:25
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    When I'm aligning text set in English (which has no accents) it works perfectly. Although, in portuguese, we use accents and it increases the text object height and therefore, this method does not work. Is there any way to align objects to Cap Height or something similar? Maybe a script?
    – Geiras
    Commented Dec 16, 2016 at 12:20
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    I've been trying to find a use for Outline Object since forever. Thank you much!
    – dgo
    Commented May 2, 2017 at 3:21

In AI 2017, select the text with the selection tool, then Type > Convert to Area Type. Now the text can be aligned using the align guides while moving the object or with the Align tool (the reference is now the real center of the text and not the base line).


One way to make it possible to center a figure (number) in a circle is to use "Area Type" for the type, then sett the Aerea type options to: Legacy and auto align. See image, this is found under the menu "Type" enter image description here Then use the Tools for alignment as usual, vertical and horizontal


Here's a solution I am working with to customize and to control your text, keeping it editable and vertically aligned in a text frame (or, ‟area text box.”)

  1. In the [ TYPE MENU > Area Type Options ] tool panel I made a 5" width × 1" high ‟area text box.” I used 1 line of text to make things easy here. Set your Offset to Legacy. You can FIX the width of your text box by rows or columns.

  2. I set my area type rows to 2 (easy numbers). It makes each row = ½ the height of my Area text box and provides a visible center line, which serves as the baseline marker for my text.

  3. I manually Adjust the ‟Base line shift” of my text to match the top edge of the bottom row, which is the halfway point of the height of the text box. Each row height equals half the box height by proportion here.

Try 3 rows, then each row height = 1/3 the box height = the box height ÷ by 3, and so on.

Tweak and explore these settings to work the way you need them to. I'm still tweaking and though it can get complicated, I think this method offers us some of the control we need. Enjoy. Hope this was helpful!

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