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I'm looking for applying text highlight formatting (that's easily done within Microsoft Word) in Illustrator.

Screenshot of highlighting formatting from Microsoft Word:

Microsoft Word Screenshot

I know that I can add rectangles to a new layer behind my text in order to achieve the same result. But it would be too exhausting if I've a large text within my design to play with. Also, if the text order was manipulated, it would be a mess. I'm looking for an easy smart way to do the same within Illustrator.

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    There's not an easier way to do it in Illustrator as Illustrator is not meant for desktop publishing. – Ryan Jan 25 '16 at 19:48
  • @Ryan I'm not looking for desktop publishing via Illustrator. I already have a design concept that in which I want to highlight specific words. The text in my design is tremendously large. So a feature like this would provide a huge flexibility with dealing with text styles (not just text color, size, and other currently available styles, but also highlighting the text). – Omar Jan 25 '16 at 22:28
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    It doesn't change that Illustrator doesn't have that feature. – Ryan Jan 25 '16 at 22:30
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It's not possible for Adobe Illustrator as it hasn't the feature of adding highlighting styles to text. This can be implemented using Adobe InDesign instead.

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You can't apply highlighting like that to a selection of text, but you can add it to an entire line of point text using an appearance effect on a second fill.

  1. Open the Appearance panel (Window → Appearance) and with your text selected, add two fills. One for the the highlight box and one above it for the text itself.

  2. Add a Rectangle "Convert to Shape" effect to the lower fill (you can set a relative offset in the effect dialog to control the "padding").

Highlighted text effect

This doesn't do exactly what you want since it highlights the entire line of text, and it's no good over multiple lines since it will create one large rectangle to cover the whole object... it's also no good on paragraph text since it will draw the rectangle over the whole text box. It can be useful in certain situations though.

Highlighted text effect

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