To Outline or Not To Outline. . .

umlautthoni's picture

How much distortion occurs when the type is outlined in Illustrator? I have always been under the impression that when sending files to printer/engraver, it was always best to provide the native files, with images sized in Photoshop, placed in a document layout program, font files and any cure adjustment files necessary.

The question has been floating around our office over some business cards. They want to send out the files with the type outlined in Illustrator. I was taught this is a no no.

Any suggestions?

Saul Selby's picture

Most font EULAs allow embedding of fonts in PDFs and many, if not most, printers nowadays have a PDF workflow. Outlining type in illustrator seems to create a bit of thickening, which is particularly noticeable in small sizes.

Fontgrube's picture

I thought that is because the hinting gets lost.


Theunis de Jong's picture

Yes, the hinting is lost -- so, particularly on screen, the type looks horribly. Fortunately, it's nigh on invisible on the output of a high-resolution machine. But try to convince your client of that.

The practice of outlining type was generally advised because of missing fonts, back in "the day" when PDFs were not around. Nowadays, proper software should embed all used fonts (or a subset thereof) in a PDF. All Adobe programs will do that. And sending a PDF to your printer is the recommended way, over sending original files.

There are a few rare occasions in which you'd really want to outline everything, and these guys tend to prefer EPS as well, rather than PDF. (Screen print? Cutters? Maybe engravers as well?) They may use old software to drive their rare machines for their niche markets, rather than up-to-date PDF rasterizers.

theplatypus's picture

This is a fantastic question with equally fantastic answers.
best regards,

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