I realize that sometimes it seems like graphic designers (and printers) have their own language. I’ve started the Design Speak series here on my blog so I can help clarify some of these terms you may hear, but not totally understand.
Today we’re talking about a phrase designers and printers might say from time to time. Drumroll please…. type as outlines! (I guess I spoiled that in the headline.) You may also hear people say fonts as outlines. This is the same thing.
If you convert your type (or fonts) to outlines, it basically takes all the text and makes it a graphic instead. So rather than being a font, each character is now an individual shape.
The great thing about this is that if you use a font not available on all computers, and then send the file to a printer or another computer that doesn’t have that font, the recipient will still see the graphic as it looked for you and be able to print it. (Worth noting that some file types and software programs embed fonts, so it won’t matter. But some design and printing software does not, which is why designers and printers run into this issue.)
So why don’t designers just save every document with type as outlines? The downside is that since the text is converted to outlines, it is not a font anymore, and it is very difficult to make changes to the text.