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Sidebar: Illustrator Tips

Photoshop isn’t the only complex application in Adobe’s lineup. Illustrator CS ($499) has its own unplumbed depths. Let these tips be your guide.

Snap to Stroke Edges The dimensions Illustrator CS expresses for a stroked object such as a rectangle are based on the centerline of that stroke, not on the edge of the visible line. So when you ask for a square of 100 points with a 10-point stroke weight, the outer dimensions of that square are 110 points. To precisely control the size of such objects, always subtract the stroke weight from the size you specify. To get the edge of a stroked object to snap to a guide or another object, use the Object: Path: Outline Stroke command, which lets you snap the visible edge of an object to a point or guide.

Semi-semibold Reversed Type When printed, reversed type (white type on a black background) can appear to break up because the ink spreads slightly and pinches the closed narrow portions of certain characters. The traditional solution for this has been to use a semibold version of the typeface to thicken up the thin strokes. But when a semibold isn’t available, or when, as in the bottom line in the screenshot, semibold is just too bold, you can use Illustrator CS’s Stroke command to thicken type a wee bit. The top line in the illustration shows Baskerville Regular. The middle line shows the same face with a 0.25-point stroke applied to it. Since the stroke is applied along the centerline of the character’s outline, only half that stroke weight—0.125 point—is actually added to the weight of the character, creating a sort of semi-semibold.

Control Headroom You’re trying to make text sit below the top of an Illustrator frame. Logically, you go to Window: Type: Paragraph, choose Show Options from the fly-out menu, and tweak the Space Before Paragraph control. Nothing happens. This is because Illustrator’s First Baseline alignment is set to Ascent by default. To move it down, select the text frame with the selection tool and go to Type: Area Type Options. In the resulting dialog box, set First Baseline to Leading; then, with the first line of text selected, adjust your leading to position the text vertically. The leading control defines the distance from the first baseline of the text to the top of the frame.—JIM FELICI

Sidebar: See Your Name in Print

We can’t promise you a spot on the New York Times Best-Seller List—but we can publish your Mac advice. We’re interested in your workarounds for Adobe InDesign and your advice on using type in any program. We’ll publish our favorites in a future Create column.

And fame isn’t your only reward. The first 500 people to submit tips will receive a copy of Words At Play, a typographic tour de force you can’t buy anywhere. This brainchild of Adobe uses the company’s typefaces and InDesign CS to illustrate quotations from 21 well-known people.

For official contest rules and restrictions, and to submit your tips and tricks, click here. Please include your name, street address, city, state, zip code, and e-mail address.

When a typeface isn’t the right weight for reversing out of black, you can customize it in Illustrator.
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