Adobe CS5 Illustrator Text Tools - dummies

By Jennifer Smith, Christopher Smith, Fred Gerantabee

Adobe Creative Suite 5 (Adobe CS5) Illustrator allows you to create a line of text and work with text overflow as well as more complicated tasks like placing text along paths and wrapping text around objects.

Click and hold the Type tool to see the hidden tools. The different tools give you the ability to be creative and also accommodate foreign languages.

Adobe CS5 Illustrator Type tools.
Adobe CS5 Illustrator Type tools.

Creating text areas

A text area is a region that you define. Text, when inserted in this region, is constrained within the shape. To create a text area, click and drag with the Type tool.

As you create and finish typing in a text area, you may want to quickly click and drag to create a new text area elsewhere on your artboard. Unfortunately, Illustrator doesn’t allow you to do that. You do have two options that will help you to create multiple textboxes quickly on your artboard:

  • Choose Select→Deselect and then create another area.

  • Hold down the Ctrl (Windows) or Command (Mac) key, and click anywhere on the artboard outside of the active text area. By clicking, you deactivate the current text box so that you can click and drag out a new text area.

Creating a line of text

To create a simple line of text, select the Type tool and click the artboard. A blinking insertion point appears. You can now start typing. With this method, the line of type goes on forever (even beyond the end of the Scratch area) until you press Enter (Windows) or Return (Mac) to start a new line of text.

This excess length is fine if you just need short lines of text for callouts or captions, for example, but it doesn’t work well if you’re creating a label or anything else that has large amounts of copy.

Many new users click and drag an ever-so-small text area that doesn’t allow room for even one letter. If you accidentally do this, switch to the Selection tool, delete the active type area, and then click to create a new text insertion point.

Flowing text into an area

Select the Type tool and then drag on the artboard to create a text area. The cursor appears in the text area; text you type flows automatically to the next line when it reaches the edge of the text area. You can also switch to the Selection tool and adjust the width and height of the text area with the handles.

Need an exact size for a text area? With the Type tool selected, drag to create a text area of any size. Then choose Window→Transform to view the Transform panel. Type an exact width measurement in the W text field and an exact height measurement in the H text field.

Dealing with text overflow

Watch out for excess text! If you create a text area that’s too small to hold all the text you want to put into it, a red plus sign appears in the lower right corner.


When Illustrator indicates that you have too much text for the text area, you have several options:

  • Make the text area larger by switching to the Selection tool and dragging the handles.

  • Make the text smaller until you no longer see the overflow indicator.

  • Thread this text area (link it to another), which is a topic covered later in this chapter, in the “Threading text into shapes” section.