I'm trying to enter a list of names as text into the shape of an "8", but they won't go around the center holes of the 8, meaning I'm having to try, and failing, to justify it manually.
How can I enter the text without it ignoring the center holes?
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You can't fill compound paths (as in paths with "holes") with text, you can use a text wrap as a workaround though...
Separate your paths... (ungroup or release compound path or whatever).
Use the Area Type Tool to fill the main shape with your text...
Set the inner shapes to have no fill and with them selected, go to Object → Text Wrap → Make (change the offset in the Text Wrap Options, in the same menu too if needs be).
Select the letter/number, in your case the number 8, with the problem holes in it.
Now if you try and fill with text you get the message "you must click on a non-compound path".
To get around this you select the Knife tool (Eraser drop down)
and while holding Alt, cut two straight lines through the number 8. Starting from outside the letter into the holes of the character.
I believe this "breaks" the Compound paths and you can then paste in your text and it works.