Stroked Type

Applying a stroke to display type can help more clearly define it when it is set on a low-contrast background. It's also useful if the type overlaps an image, especially if that image contains areas of busy detail. When you apply a stroke, the weight of the stroke is centered on the character outline. However, you won't see the part of the stroke inside the character unless you set the fill of the character to None because the fill is drawn in front of the stroke. This means that the letters will "grow" in size and appear closer together, so you may want to adjust the tracking and kerning of the words. Be judicious, and definitely avoid applying strokes to body text.

To apply a stroke to type, either select a range of type with the Type tool, then choose the Stroke swatch at the bottom of the tool palette or at the top of the Swatches palette and click on the swatch you want in the Swatches palette. You can adjust the stroke weight and stroke style using the Control palette of the Stroke palette.

Alternatively you can select a Text Frame and click the Formatting Affects Text button then apply the stroke color, stroke weight and style. Doing it this way the stroke is applied to all the text in the text frame rather than to a specific range of text.

Figure 18.3. Stroked Type. Example A has no stroke; example B has a .75 pt stroke (on 36 pt type). The kerning has been adjusted to compensate for tightened letter spacing caused stroking.

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Multiple Strokes

To create type with multiple strokes:

  1. Apply a thick stroke to a piece of type.

  2. Copy the text frame and choose Edit > Paste in Place. This will give you a duplicate exactly on top of the original.

  3. Select the duplicate and choose a stroke of a different color and a lesser weight.

  4. Choose Object > Group to make sure both text frames are moved or transformed as one.


If you want to control how the stroke straddles the character shape, you must first convert the type to outlines (Type > Create Outlines Cmd+Shift+O/Ctrl+Shift+O). Then you can choose to put the stroke inside, outside, or centered on the character shape using the Stroke palette.

This effect works best with bold fonts with little transition between the thick and thin parts of the letter shapes. Be sure to apply enough positive tracking to compensate for the stroke weight being added to the outside of the characters.

Neon Type

To take this further, you can create a glow effect either by using a drop shadow (see below) or stacked copies of the text frame, where each copy has a lighter weight and tint of stroke than the one beneath it.

Figure 18.4. Type with Multiple Strokes.

Figure 18.5. Example A uses two copies of the type. The bottom copy has a drop shadow with a 4 pt red blur with no offsets. The top has a 2 pt black blur with no offsets. For example B, I started out with a 6 pt stroke at 100 percent tint. With each successive copy, I incrementally reduced both the stroke weight and the tint percentage.

Offset Strokes

As an alternative to stroking the type, you can offset the stroke by sandwiching together three layers of the same piece of type. The topmost text frame is the colored type. Beneath that is a duplicate, slightly offset, with its fill set to the background color, in this case white. At the bottom is a third copy, offset some more, and with a different color fill that serves as the "stroke."

  1. Create your type with a fill and no stroke, then choose Edit > Copy Cmd+C/Ctrl+C

  2. To paste the copy directly on top of the original choose Edit > Paste in Place (Cmd+Shift+Option+V/Ctrl+Shift+Alt+V).

  3. Offset this copy from the original nudge the type with your cursor arrows. In the example shown I used one nudge right and one down.

  4. Apply a fill color to the copy that is the same as your background color, in my case, Paper.

  5. Choose Object>Arrange>Send to Back (Cmd+Shift+[/Ctrl+Shift+[) to send the copy behind the original.

  6. With the copy still selected repeat the above steps, applying a different fill color to this second copy.

Figure 18.6. Offset Stroke.