How to Make Text Look Like an Old Typewriter in Illustrator

By Tom Chmielewski

A simple way to simulate typewriter text is to use the font Courier. But for those of us who have actually used typewriters, we know it just isn’t the same. Where are the smudges in the serifs, the signs of wear in the keys? Where are the misaligned letters? To duplicate the look of true typewriter keystrokes in headline display text, turn to Adobe Illustrator to simulate pounding inked words on paper.

Step 1

Select the text block you typed in Courier or similar font then, in the menu bar, select "Type/Create Outlines." This converts each letter to the outline of a graphic object that you can manipulate like any other object in Illustrator. Ungroup the text.

Step 2

Apply an effect under "Effect/Distort & Transform/Roughen" to roughen the edges to indicate worn typewriter keys. Select all the text but do not group to apply an effect evenly.

Step 3

Set the size at 1 percent in the "Roughen" menu box, select "Smooth" instead of "Corner," and adjust the "Detail" slider. The smaller number will create very worn keys. A higher number will still roughen the letter’s edges, matching the look of a key strike on paper.

Step 4

Decrease the opacity of all the letters to represent a worn typewriter ribbon. You can fade letters individually to show uneven keystrokes.

Step 5

Use the "Direct Selection Tool" to select an individual letter, then click on an anchor point of the outline. Drag the outpoint away from a letter’s corner to suggest a clump of ink from dirt on the keys.

Step 6

Select every occurrence of a specific letter then. using your arrow keys, move the letters slightly above or below the text baseline to show misaligned keys.

Step 7

Save and export as a graphic in whatever format you need to use as a headline display on a document or website.

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