How To Put Type On A Path In Illustrator

By Jennifer Farley

typeonpath The ability to put type on a path allows you to create interesting typography and can be very useful in logo design. Many graphics programs allow you to put type on a path, including Photoshop, but Illustrator has gives you some extra control over how the type appears on the path. If you’re new to Illustrator, or a bit rusty on using type on a path, this should help you get up to speed.

Let’s start by looking at type on an open path.

Open Paths

1. Create a new document in Illustrator and using any of the drawing create an open path.
openpath1 clip_image005

2. Select the Type tool and move your cursor so that it touches the path. Notice that the icon changes to the Type on a Path tool icon.

3. Click once on the path. When you click on the path, any Stroke attributes are removed from the path. You can put them back later if you want. Now you can type your text.

This action removes any Stroke attributes from the path, but you can apply a Stroke to the path again later if you want to. At this point, you’ll see the blinking text insertion icon and you can enter or copy text onto the path.


4. Switch over to the Selection tool and select the path with the text on it.
Your selection will show some extra bars and two boxes at the start and end of the path.


The two vertical lines that appear at each end define the boundary, or the start and end points, of the text. The line in the center determines the center point between the start and end points and lets you specify which side of the path the type sits on.

The in and out ports allow you to thread text across multiple paths. You can drag the the start and end points to change the area of the path that can contain text.

To flip the text over the path, simply drag the middle line to either side of the path.

Closed Paths

On an open path, you can easily see the start and end points because they are on opposite sides of the path. However, when you are working with a closed path, the point that you click becomes the start and the end point.

1. Select the ellipse tool and drag out a circle. Hold down Shift to make it a perfect circle.

2. Select the Type tool. You’ll notice that this time the cursor looks different when your roll your mouse over the edge of the circle. This is a Type Area cursor and if you click now, it will fill the circle with your type. That’s not what we want.

3. Hold down the Alt/Option key and now you should see the Type on a Path cursor. Click at the top of the circle to create the start point and the end point and add your text.

4. Switch to the Selection tool again. You’ll see the start and end points as before except this time they are right beside each other. You’ll also see the in and out ports and the center point.

Manipulating Type On A Path

The text you see on the circle above is left aligned. If you center your text by clicking on the center alignment icon on the options bar, it aligns to the bottom of the path.
To align text to the top center of a circle, you can either:

  • Click at the bottom of the circle when you’re creating the Path Type object, or
  • Drag the start and end points so that the center of the text rests at the top of the circle.


Type On A Path Options

You can take even more control over how your text looks by opening up the Type On A Path Options Palette. Choose Type > Type on a Path > Type on a Path Options.
The following settings are available in the Type on a Path Options dialog:

~ Effect

The Effect setting controls the orientation of the text relative to the path. Illustrator allows you to choose from Skew, 3D Ribbon, Stair Step, and Gravity.

~ Align to Path
The Align to Path setting determines which part of the text actually lines up with and touches the path.
You can choose from Baseline (the default), Ascender, Descender, and Center


~ Spacing
You can use the Spacing setting to get consistent spacing between characters on curved paths. When you have a path with sharp curves, often the characters will appear at weird angles or look inconsistent. Increasing the number in the Spacing field makes the characters appear closer together.

~ Flip
This simply lets you set which side of the path the text appears on.

That’s type on a path. Once your type is on there, you can edit it as normal and apply effects and styles as to your heart’s content.

  • I love using Illustrator, you can create some really intricate designs and illustrations. Never really knew how to do this so thanks Jennifer!

  • Sara

    This a good tutorial. I always like to pick up some extra tips on areas that aren’t necessarily my subject area. I can share this with some other Web Designers in my class. I’m sure they’ll appreciate the tip, even if they’ve only opened Illustrator once.

  • dev.My

    Illustrator is really a good design software than photoshop when produce a certain type of design. and the tip, how can sometime be hard to find, so hope that sitepoint will continue to produce Illustrator post.

    btw thank for this new tutorial, very handy and powerful.

  • Ashley Jet Jaden

    Good tutorial! I love Illustrator and have been trying to teach it to myself – I never before realized you can move the end points to change the text path around. Such a simple thing, yet so helpful. I also just realized it’s easier (at least for me) to use the paint tool instead of the pencil tool when working with text paths. That way there are no anchors and the text flows more smoothly on the path.

    Thanks for the the tut, Jennifer!

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