How to Skew Fonts in Illustrator

The Shear tool in Adobe Illustrator CC skews text and other objects by slanting them vertically or horizontally relative to an anchor point. Mild horizontal skew produces a makeshift italicized font that can be exaggerated for extreme effects, whereas vertical shearing slants the text to a diagonal. You can use the Shear tool for graphical adjustments with your mouse or the Shear dialog to enter precise numeric values.

Using the Shearing Tool

Step 1

Select the "Selection Tool" from the Tools panel or press "V" and then click the text object that you want to skew. If you don't see the Tools panel, click "Windows" and then check "Tools." You can also select the text from the Layers panel by clicking the circle on the appropriate layer or sublayer. You don't need to modify the text object first, such as by converting to outlines, because the Shearing Tool works on normally formatted text objects.

Step 2

Click the "Shearing Tool" from the Tools panel. By default, this option is concealed behind the Scale Tool, so you might need to click and hold the "Scale Tool" to see the Shearing Tool option.

Step 3

Click anywhere in the document window to place the anchor. The horizontal and vertical shearing moves relative to this point, so the further the anchor is away from the horizontal or vertical center of the text object, the more subtle the skew. For dramatic results, place the anchor close to the center or omit the anchor entirely. If you don't place an anchor, it is assumed to be aligned with the vertical and horizontal center of the text object.

Step 4

Drag your mouse pointer horizontally to skew the text left or right; hold the "Shift" key to maintain the original height. Drag your mouse pointer vertically to angle the text at a diagonal; hold the "Shift" key to maintain the original width.

Using the Shear Dialog

Step 1

Select the text you want to skew and double-click the "Shear" Tool to open the Shear dialog. Alternatively, right-click the selected text, point to "Transform" and then select "Shear." You can also click "Object" from the top menu to access "Transform" and then "Shear."

Step 2

Check "Preview" to see a live preview of the shearing effect as you enter values. By default, this option is deselected.

Step 3

Enter a value between -359 and 359 in the "Shear Angle" field. This number represents the amount of slant relative to a perpendicular line off the shear axis.

Step 4

Select either "Horizontal" or "Vertical" to apply the shear angle to the appropriate axis. Alternatively, enter a value between -359 and 359 in the Axis Angle field to deviate the shear angle away that many degrees from the horizontal axis.

Step 5

Click "OK" to apply the shearing effect. Alternatively, click "Copy" to keep the original text unchanged and create a skewed copy of it.


Skewed fonts can be edited or added to, just like normal text.

It might be helpful to rename the skewed text layer, so it describes the amount of shearing, such as "-145 Degrees, Horizontal."

You can also shear text using the Free Transform tool by holding "Ctrl-Alt" and then dragging the middle bounding-box handle on any side of the selected text object. This option is also available on touch-capable devices using the Free Transform widget and doesn't require additional key presses.