How to Curve Text in Illustrator

When entering text on a path in Illustrator, the words will typically follow along the line’s edge. If you’re using the Type tool, text will stay along the baseline; with Vertical Type, all characters will be perpendicular. No matter which tool you use, it’s easy to create text that curves along a path, with additional options for changing text effects and spacing.


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Placing Text on a Curved Path

  1. Choose a Text Style: In most cases, you’ll want the text to follow along the path, instead of jutting out perpendicularly. If so, select the Type/Type On A Path tool.  
  2. Select a Path: Click on the path you’d like the text to follow. Once you’ve finished typing your text, click on the Selection tool (i.e. the black arrow) to continuing tweaking your new object.   
  3. Make Adjustments: With the Selection tool enabled, you have the ability to move anchor points and extend paths, just in case your text doesn’t fit. If you’re working with a closed path, you can also expand or contract the entire shape. 

Moving/Flipping Text

  1. Select a Path: First, click on the text that you’d like to move. Brackets should appear on both ends of the path, along with a center bracket at the midpoint. 
  2. Move the Text: Click on the center bracket and drag it along the path in either direction. Your text should follow the bracket, while still staying centered. To ensure that the text doesn’t flip to the other side, hold down Command (Mac) or Ctrl (Windows).
  3. Flip the Text: The path’s center bracket points in the direction where your text will be. To flip it around, just drag the bracket to the other side. 

Changing Text Spacing

  1. Open Path Options: Sometimes, paths with extreme curves will spread text in an unappealing way, so you’ll need to tweak the spacing value. First, open the path options window by clicking on Type, then Type On A Path, and finally Type On A Path Options. 
  2. Adjust Spacing: Enter a new spacing value and see how it changes the text. The higher the value, the less extraneous space between characters on a curve.

Applying Effects

  1. Select the Text: Path type effects aren’t for changing fonts or colors, but for adjusting the direction and width of characters that are already there. To pull up the effects options, click on the text that you’d like to edit, and then choose Type On a Path from the Type menu tab.
  2. Choose an Effect: On this submenu, you’ll be able to choose between five different effects — Rainbow, Skew, 3D Ribbon, Stair Step, and Gravity. 
  • Rainbow: Curve text perfectly around a path.
  • Skew: Some characters will jut out at an angle, depending on where they are on the curved path.
  • 3D Ribbon: Like Rainbow, but a curved path’s slope will tweak the text to the same degree. 
  • Stair Step: On a curve, text will be straight, but individual characters will be staggered like a stairwell.
  • Gravity: Extremely curved paths will make the text look like it’s falling down.
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