When you apply a Gradient Fill to text, nothing seems to happen. It’s still black text, yet in the Swatches palette, the Color palette, and the Tools palette, the Fill is showing as a Gradient. Is this a bug? No! ‘You can’t fill editable text with a Gradient in Illustrator. You have to outline the text (making it un-editable) before filling it with a Gradient.” I’ve heard this statement of fact over and over again, even from experts.” Guess what, IT’S NOT TRUE.
Type some bold, san serif text and make it big (72 points or more). Click on a Gradient Swatch and it won’t apply, even though it shows the Fill as a Gradient in various palettes. Now the secret! Select the type with the Selection tool. And go to the Effect menu > Path > Outline Object, which applies the EFFECT of Outlined Text without actually outlining the text. Now Fill this ‘live” text with a Gradient. It works! And, if you need to, you can still edit the text because it’s not really Outlined.
Tip provided by Jeff Witchel, Certified Adobe® Training Provider.