Converting Text to Outlines the Right Way, Updated
Who would have thought that here, in the second decade of the 21st century, we would still find ourselves explaining how to convert text to outlines in order to print our documents?! It’s a crazy thing to do, completely unnecessary in the vast majority of instances, and yet we continue to hear requests from users who say they need to do it for one reason or another.
(Here’s a piece on why you shouldn’t convert text to outlines. I generally agree with Steve’s last comment, where he says if your printer wants you to outline text, you should find another printer. Unfortunately, that’s not always possible.)
A few years back, I wrote up a relatively easy hack that generated a lot of interest and excitement, because it allowed InDesign users to convert all text to outlines while exporting to PDF (or, god forbid, EPS), but still leaving you with editable text in your InDesign document. The problem is that this stopped working in CS5. Fortunately, Dov Isaacs at Adobe came up with a good solution, which I want to share with you here. [Editor’s note: Here is another, newer method that works in Acrobat DC.]
(Dov wants to make it clear that he does not actually want anyone to do this because he thinks converting text to outlines is crazy. But I begged him, so he’s being helpful.)
So here’s the trick. In my earlier article, I explained that that there were three steps to ensuring that all your text is converted safely to outlines:
- Create a “convert all text to outlines” transparency flattener preset.
- Place some transparency on each spread (even if that means putting it on the master page)
- Exporting to an Acrobat 4 compatible PDF, or printing-and-distilling, or export an EPS file.
The new update follows the same steps with one exception: In step two, you need to ensure that the transparency you put on the page isn’t just any transparent object, but rather a transparent object that interacts with some text. As he wrote:
What you need to do is force some text, no matter how small or how ridiculously colored, into a situation that actually requires flattening. Thus, if on your master page, you were to create in the page margin a text frame with a 0.1pt period with a 0.5% black tint and overlay that with a very small polygon filled 100%K with opacity of 0.1%, you would force a condition that would cause the Convert All Text to Outlines to kick in, providing the “desired” results.
Unfortunately, while this appeared to work in CS5 for a while, some free update along the way seems broke it again! In CS5.5, it remained broken. Some bug crept in that seems to literally disable the Convert Text to Outlines feature upon export.
Now, for the good news: In InDesign CS5 version 7.0.4 and CS5.5 version 7.5.2 (the newest updates to both versions as of this writing), it appears to be fixed again. Not only that, but it’s even working the way it did back in CS4 again!
That means that as long as you have the newest versions, you can just put any transparent object on the spread (or master page) and InDesign flattens the whole enchilada with your custom flattener preset… and your text is converted to outlines in the output.
Hooray for progress! (Now I just hope the next “progress” update doesn’t break this hack again.)