What is the Challenge with Strokes in Illustrator?

When working with text in Adobe Illustrator, many designers face a common challenge: aligning strokes to the outside of editable text. By default, Illustrator doesn’t allow users to align strokes to the outside of editable text. However, there’s a clever workaround that can help you achieve this effect without converting your text to outlines or expanding it.

What is the Solution?

  1. Setting Up Your Text:
  2. Using the Appearance Panel:
    • Turn off the fill for your text so that it appears blank.
    • Navigate to Window > Appearance to open the Appearance Panel.
    • Add a fill to your text using the Appearance Panel. This fill can be any color of your choice, such as red or black.
    • Next, add a stroke to your text. For this example, let’s use a black stroke with a weight of 15 points.
  3. Aligning the Stroke Outside:
    • In the Appearance Panel, you’ll notice that the stroke covers the fill of your text. This is because the stroke layer is above the fill layer.
    • To make the stroke appear outside the text, simply drag the stroke layer below the fill layer in the Appearance Panel. This gives the illusion that the stroke is outside the text, even though it’s technically still centered.
  4. Getting Specific Stroke Weights:
    • If you need a specific stroke weight on the outside, simply double the desired weight. For instance, for a 15-point stroke on the outside, set the stroke weight to 30 points in the Appearance Panel.
  5. Aligning the Stroke Inside:
    • To align the stroke inside the text, first adjust the stroke weight to a smaller value, such as 10 points.
    • In the Appearance Panel, apply an Offset Path effect to the stroke. By adjusting the offset value to a negative number, you can move the stroke inside the text. Fine-tune the offset value until the stroke aligns perfectly with the edge of your text.

What is the Benefit of This Method?

The beauty of this method is that your text remains fully editable. You can change the wording, font, or size, and the stroke will adjust accordingly. This technique offers flexibility and ensures that designers don’t have to compromise the editability of their text for design aesthetics.


While Illustrator might have certain limitations, creative solutions like the one mentioned above allow designers to achieve their desired effects without much hassle. So, the next time you’re looking to align a stroke outside or inside your editable text in Illustrator, remember this handy trick!