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5 Simple Steps to Create Editable Offset Text in Adobe Illustrator

Have you ever wanted to make bubble text in Adobe Illustrator but can’t find an easy way to do it? With an offset text, you can finally add an equal outline around your text. It’s completely editable; you can continue writing after you’ve put the offset text outline in place.

This technique works on any font and only takes five simple steps in Adobe Illustrator.

What Is Offset Text?

Offset text or an offset path are both techniques you can create using Illustrator. Offset simply means something that is out of line. While that sounds undesirable or messy, using an offset technique for text in Illustrator can give you some cool results.

Editable offset text is great because you can create the offset technique first and then continue to rewrite your text without having to start over. The outline stays equal around all of your text.

5 Simple Steps to Create Offset Text in Illustrator

Open Adobe Illustrator and open a new file or find the file you wish to add your text to. We’re going to use a gradient background we already created; you can make a gradient easily in Illustrator.

1. Write Your Text

Use the Type tool (T) to write your text on the Artboard. Then in the Properties window, choose your font, size, and fill color. You can also use the other formatting tools—paragraph alignment, kerning, and text styles—at this point. But since this technique makes editable offset text, you can also format those parts later.

Creating offset text can work with any font you have available; however, it may produce better results if you use a more legible font type, like a sans serif, rather than a cursive text or decorative font. If you can’t decide on a font you already have, you can download fonts easily.

2. Add a Stroke

With your text written and potentially formatted, you need to add a stroke to it. Go to the Appearance panel. If it’s not already open, go to Window > Appearance it should open on the list of vertical window icons. You can click the Appearance icon to hide or show the panel.

At the bottom of the Appearance panel, click Add New Stroke. If the stroke color is the same as your text fill, you might not notice a difference. But if you have a different color stroke, you’ll see it around the outside of your text.

Decide on the stroke color now because it’s much harder to change it later. The fill color is easier to change later, though, so only worry about the stroke color at this point.

3. Offset Your Text Stroke

In the Appearance panel, go to Add New Effect > Offset Path. You’ll see the stroke now has a gap between it and the filled text.

In the Offset Path popup, you can change the gap spacing in the Offset box. This number just depends on the style you want, but we’re using 10px.

In the Joins box, you can choose if you want the outline to look more structured or more rounded with three options: Miter, Round, or Bevel. The Round option gives the best bubble text effect, but—depending on your chosen font—the other options may look better. Set the Miter limit to 4.

If you have the Preview box switched on in the popup, you can preview any effects on your Artboard before confirming your choice. Once you’re happy with the spacing and joins of the outline, click OK.

4. Combine in Pathfinder

You’ll notice that the outlines go around each individual letter, which means the lines overlap between the letters of a word. This doesn’t look that great, so they need to be combined to make one outline around each word instead.

In the Appearance panel, go to Effects > Pathfinder > Add. Instantly, you’ll see that the overlapping lines have merged as one outline per word. This creates a cool bubble outline if you chose the Round option. If you chose Miter or Bevel, you’ll have a more block-like outline—but it will still be equal around the letters.

If your words are close enough together, their outlines will merge into one another’s. But if your words are further apart than the gap of the offset, they’ll be individually outlined.

5. Write With Editable Offset Text

The great thing about this technique is that it keeps your text fully editable, so you can change or add text while keeping this effect on.

Use the Type tool to edit your text as you normally would and watch how the effect stays in place. You can even change other type settings like bold or italic effect and paragraph alignment.

How to Use Offset Text in Illustrator

There are quite a lot of uses for offset text, but the main benefits are that it’s editable after creation and that it’s non-destructive. That means you can simply turn off the effect in the Appearance panel, and you won’t have to redesign, rewrite, or reformat your text. You could also create offset text for curved writing in Illustrator.

Once you’re happy with the offset text, you can turn it into a vector for other uses. Just right-click and go to Create Outlines, then Object > Expand Appearance. If you want to edit your vectorized text, such as change the stroke color or add a color fill to the gap between stroke and fill, then right-click the expanded text and go to Ungroup.

This allows you to individually select any aspect of your offset text design. You can color the stroke by selecting it, or you may even want to create further bubble text designs by removing the original text, leaving only the outline behind.

Adding an offset path to your text—or any vector drawings, for example—is a great way to create outlines to use for stickers or designs for your Cricut machine. This will save you time and ensure an equal gap every time you apply the effect.

Create Easily Editable Offset Text

Using Illustrator to add an offset path to your text is a great way to add a new effect to your writing. The offset text effect saves time, ensures accuracy, and the best part is that you can continue editing or adding text without having to start the effect process from the beginning. You can create a fun bubble effect or use it to add a larger stroke without impacting your font legibility.


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