How to Use the Touch Type Tool in Adobe Illustrator

You use the Touch Type Tool in Illustrator by selecting editable text, use Shift + T to select the tool, then click on the letter in the text you want to edit, and use the handles to manipulate the text.

Before discovering this tool, I used to create a text outline, ungroup the text, and then resize the letters. Sometimes I couldn’t get the distance right. So, if you want to edit a specific letter of your text, the best way is to use the Touch Type Tool.

This post will show you how to use the touch type tool in Adobe Illustrator. The Touch Type Tool allows you to move, scale, rotate, and even overlap individual letters within your text in Illustrator.  

Let’s get to it. 

Key Takeaways

  • The Touch Type tool can only be used on live/editable text, not text that has already been outlined. 
  • The text will still be editable after you use the Touch Type tool to manipulate the letter. 
  • If you are going to type in new text, you will have to type letter by letter otherwise it will keep the formatting of the first letter.
  • The keyboard shortcut for the Touch Type Tool is Shift + T.

How to Use the Touch Type Tool in Adobe Illustrator

Whether you just want to have fun playing around with text, or you are trying to create live text in a template for future use, I’ll provide instructions on how to make this happen in Illustrator.

Note: The screenshots from this tutorial are taken from Adobe Illustrator CC Windows version. 

Step 1: Create some text that you want to manipulate. You can add text in Illustrator by clicking on the Type tool (keyboard shortcut T) and typing out the text. 

You can click once with the Type tool and create a short word or sentence or can click and drag to make a text box and type out a paragraph. Although the Touch Type Tool is usually used to edit short text instead of paragraphs. 

Note: You will have to end the typing by hitting escape if you are going to use the keyboard shortcut in the upcoming step.

Step 2: Click and hold down the Type Tool to get the flyout menu, then hover and click on the Touch Type Tool or you can activate it using the keyboard shortcut Shift + T.

Step 3: Choose a letter you want to manipulate and click on it with the Touch Type Tool. A box will appear around the letter.

You are now able to move, scale, rotate, resize, overlap, etc. the selected letter. You use the handles around the edge of the box to make the adjustments.

Once you have completed all the changes you would like, you can click on another letter and do the same. The amount of changes you make will depend on what you are trying to create in Illustrator. 

Note: You cannot change two letters at once.

Here are a few examples of text that I manipulated with the Touch Type Tool. I feel that this type of tool could be helpful in creating a larger first letter in a paragraph, commonly seen in a children’s book, creating unique text for a book title or paper title, and possibly even for logo text. 

The best thing to remember though is just to have fun creating in Illustrator!

When to Use the Touch Type Tool in Adobe Illustrator

Depending on what you are trying to accomplish in Illustrator, will determine if this tool will be helpful for you. The main aspect is that you have live/editable text that you want to remain editable after you manipulate one or more letters in the text. 

If you already outline the text or don’t need the text to remain editable, you can always outline the text and manipulate it from there. 

A tip from many years of design, always save fonts and editable text with distortion in a separate layer so if there is a mistake or you need to make an unforeseen change, you have that information easily at hand. 

I can’t count how many times I thought, oh I’ll remember the name of that font, and then can’t remember it when I need to. 

Can you manipulate live text and have it still be editable?

Yes, the Touch Type Tool is built for just that. You simply click the letter you want to edit with the tool, and then make your manipulations. If you need to type more or change the text, you still can’t.

Final Thoughts

The Touch Type Tool isn’t a feature you’ll use all the time, but it is a neat tool to help manipulate text and edit specific letters when you want to keep the text live. 

Distorting and manipulating the text can create fun text in your Adobe Illustrator project and I would encourage you to try it out. It is a specific tool that you may need to create just the perfect piece in the future now that you know how and when to utilize it.

Have you tried the Touch Type Tool in Illustrator? What did you create with it and was it for fun or work? Let me know in the comments below.

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