The custom styles you saved in Adobe Creative Suite 5 (Adobe CS5) Illustrator can be updated. Updates to a style will apply to that original text and to all other instances.

To update a style, simply select its name in either the Character or Paragraph Styles panel. Choose Options from the panel menu, which you access by clicking the arrow in the upper right corner of the panel. In the resulting dialog box make changes by clicking the main attribute on the left and then updating the choices on the right. After you do so, all tagged styles are updated.


Documents created in older versions of Adobe Illustrator (Version 10 or earlier) contain legacy text, which is text using the older text engine. When these files are opened, you see a warning dialog box. If you click the Update button, any text on the document will most likely reflow, causing line breaks, leading, and other types of spacing to change.

Click the OK button to update the file after it’s opened to lock down the text. If necessary, you can use the Type tool to click a selected text area to update only the contained text.

Another Warning dialog box appears that gives you the opportunity to update selected text, copy the text object, or cancel the text tool selection. This method is the best way to see which changes are occurring so that you can catch any spacing issues right off the bat.

Original text (left), updated text (middle), and text object copied (right).
Original text (left), updated text (middle), and text object copied (right).

If you click Copy the Text Object, you can use the underlying locked copy to adjust the new text flow to match the old. Throw away the legacy text layer by clicking and dragging it to the trash icon in the Layers panel, or click the visibility eye icon to the left of the Legacy Text layer to hide it when you’re finished.