Convert those pesky pdf fonts to outlines in illustrator

Almost daily at our workplace we have customers send us files for printing on our large format printers. Nearly once a day we get files that are not completely converted to outlines. Those in the business know what I’m refering to, they will also appreciate this tip I’m going to give.

There is a really great tip I learned about Adobe Illstrator CS 2 that will convert any pdf completely to outlines(curves for you corel draw users).

  1. In Illustrator click File > New
  2. click File > Place and locate the offending pdf file
  3. click OK, you should see a preview of the pdf at this point
  4. keep the pdf selected, select Object > flatten transparency
  5. select “convert text to outlines” and move the slider to 100% vectors
  6. click OK


That’s It! It works every time and has saved us a lot of headache!

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  1. ScottyDoo says:

    I’ll have to try it in CS2 and see if it’s different. I’ve never been able to get that trick to work in CS3. I don’t even have the option to get the the object properties when placing.

    Another option, though not free, is to use the IntelliPDF Curves plugin. The demo of it was awesome, and seems well worth the $300. I swear half my files from ad agencies are not converted to outlines, yet they want their banner cranked out right now.

  2. Daniel says:

    Great tip! Works in AI CS3 on my PC, however be WARNED the fonts do seem to change slightly. Just tried this trick on a file using Avenir.

  3. RC says:

    Works on my Mac Pro in AI CS3. Must need Tip. Great work.

  4. Jose David says:

    WOW. This is the first time i ever in my life post a blog comment. This goes to show how amazingly helpful this tip was. Helped me land a large account. Thanks whoever you are.

  5. Maddog4U says:

    OMG – Thank you

  6. Wazza says:

    This blog post has just saved me lots of stress! Thank you!!

  7. Carlos says:

    ohhhh so good, you saved my life!

  8. James LaBove says:

    Thank you so very much for this tip. Awesome.

  9. cristian says:

    Great advice! You saved my butt. Thanks a lot.

  10. Jocelyn says:

    THANK YOU THANK YOU!! I work for a promotional marketing company and this is a CONSTANT problem and we waste so much time asking them to send it in outlines! This helped us out so much!!!!!

  11. Frannie says:

    I think I love you!!! Thank you for sharing a fantastic tip, still valuable years later!

  12. Tzvi says:

    I said to myself, “Tzvi,” I said, “Enough of this. This has to be possible. Maybe Google knows the answer.” And, lo, here I am. 4 years later, there’s still no way to “open as outlines” which would be clever and helpful, but this did the trick. Thanks!

  13. Jim says:

    Works great is CS5.5. Just one thing though. The file has to be linked when imported otherwise the fonts are funky.

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