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Type and Typography in Photoshop

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Would you like an easier way of making attractive text in Photoshop? Spice up your text and explore type tools, type palettes, commands, and fonts.
This chapter is from the book

In this chapter

  • Photoshop's Type Capability

  • The Type Tools

  • The Type Palettes and Commands

  • Spell Check and Find/Replace

  • Fonts and Font Embedding

  • Photoshop in Focus

  • From the NAPP Help Desk

Photoshop's Type Capability

As the subject of type and text in Photoshop is discussed, it's important to keep one basic concept in mind: Photoshop is an image-editing program. It is not designed to be a page layout program, nor a word processor. As such, don't consider Photoshop's type-handling capabilities to be substandard; rather, think of them as a bonus. If you have large amounts of text to add to a document, or need to work with very small type, consider Adobe InDesign or Adobe Illustrator.

Just a few versions in the past, Photoshop's type capability was restricted to creating masks in the shape of letters. (The biggest problem with type masks is that the type isn't live. You can't edit the words or change the typographic attributes without re-creating the entire type element (see Figure 11.1).

Figure 11.1Figure 11.1 After the type is set, it becomes nothing more than filled pixels. Changing the font or even one misspelling might mean re-creating the entire image when type is added as a mask.

» Photoshop still offers type masks; their use is discussed in "The Type Tools," later in this chapter.

Photoshop 5 introduced type layers and Photoshop 6 added vector type. Photoshop 7 refines the type engine and adds both a spell checker and a find/replace capability.

Vector Type

As discussed in Chapter 6, "Pixels, Vectors, and Resolution," there are numerous advantages to vector artwork. For example, when printed with a PostScript output device, the edges remain crisp and clean, without the so-called jaggies—the visible stair-step edges of pixels along a curve. Vector artwork can be scaled in an illustration program or by a PostScript printer and still retain those high-quality edges. Because it consists of mathematically defined paths, it can also be manipulated in ways impossible with raster art. Figure 11.2 shows the difference between scaling vector type and raster type.

Figure 11.1Figure 11.2 The original letters are shown for comparison. Notice the dramatic difference in quality when vector and rasterized type are scaled to 400%.

The primary advantage of raster art is its capability of reproducing fine transitions and gradations in color. Because type is usually a single color, that is not of particular value. However, Photoshop's vector type can be rasterized whenever necessary.

Saving Images with Type

The difference between vector and rasterized type is primarily of importance during the creation process and when preparing artwork for placement in a page layout program. In most other circumstances, the type is automatically rasterized. Remember that with the exception of scalable vector graphics (SVG), a format that is not supported by Photoshop, Web artwork is raster. Similarly, inkjet printers don't take advantage of vector type. (Only PostScript printers can actually work with vectors as such.) When outputting to an inkjet printer, saving images for the Web, or using a non-PostScript file format, type is automatically rasterized.


EPS, PDF, and DCS support vector type when saving from Photoshop. However, reopening any of these image formats in Photoshop results in rasterization. After you save a file with vector text in one of these formats, don't reopen it in Photoshop. It's a good idea to keep the original in Photoshop's own .psd format.

In Photoshop, the PostScript file formats, those that support vectors, are limited to Photoshop (.psd), Encapsulated PostScript (.eps), Portable Document Format (.pdf), and Desktop Color Separations (.dcs). The enhanced TIFF file format can also support vector type layers, but full implementation of the format's advanced features outside Photoshop is virtually nonexistent.

» For more on enhanced TIFF, see Chapter 5, "Photoshop's File Formats and Output Options," p. 119.


When saving files as TIFF, Photoshop offers the option of saving layers. Unless your print shop specifically approves, don't use layers in TIFF images. And if you won't be sending the image out, there's little advantage to enhanced TIFF over Photoshop's .psd format.

When saving in a format that can maintain vector artwork or type, you'll need to ensure that the Include Vector Data option is selected. In Figure 11.3, you can see the check boxes for the various PostScript file format options. Note that both the EPS and the DCS option dialog boxes warn about reopening files in Photoshop, but the PDF dialog box does not.

Figure 11.1Figure 11.3 EPS, PDF, and DCS file formats all offer (but don't require) saving vector data in a file. If there are no vector paths in the image, the option is grayed out.

These three file formats (and enhanced TIFF) are the only formats supported by Photoshop that do not rasterize type.

Point and Paragraph Type

In addition to the differentiation between vector and raster, type in Photoshop can be categorized as point type or paragraph type. Point type is added to a document at a specific location (or point) in the image. In contrast, paragraph type (also called area type) fills a portion (or area) of the image. Figure 11.4 illustrates the difference.

Figure 11.1Figure 11.4 Point type is often used for single lines of text, such as headlines, and paragraph type is used for large blocks of text. Note the difference between the transform bounding box (top) and the paragraph type container (bottom).

There are a number of important differences between the two types of type:

  • Point type continues in a straight line unless you press the (Return) [Enter] key to insert a line break. Paragraph type automatically wraps to the next line when the text reaches the boundary of its box.

  • The space occupied by point type continues to expand as more characters are added. Paragraph type is restricted to the designated rectangle; characters that don't fit in the rectangle are hidden.

  • Point type is added from the specific spot in the image where the Type tool was clicked. Paragraph type is added from the top of the bounding box.

  • To add point type, click with a Type tool. For paragraph type, drag with a Type tool to create a rectangle to fill with the type.

  • Resizing the bounding box around point type scales the type. Resizing the container rectangle for paragraph type forces the text to reflow within the container; the type maintains its original size and proportion.

Consider point type to be similar to headlines in a newspaper or magazine. It typically occupies one line, but might require two or three lines. To add lines, type to the desired width, press (Return) [Enter] to move to the next line, and continue typing.

Paragraph type, on the other hand, can be compared to the body text of a newspaper or magazine. It flows from one line to the next, and if you go back to the beginning and add a word, the text repositions itself, automatically adjusting the line breaks. This is called reflowing.

Think, if you will, of the difference (or one of the differences) between a typewriter and a word processor. With a typewriter, you must be aware of the warning bell that indicates you've reached the end of a line, the edge of the paper. You then advance the paper, return to the left margin, and begin typing on the next line. With a word processor, you can continue typing and the text will automatically wrap from line to line.

With a typewriter, if you need to go back to the first line to add a word, the length of that line is thrown off. If it's a long word, you can't just erase the top line and retype it; you have to retype the entire paragraph. Adding a word to the opening line with a word processor simply moves all the text to the right and, if necessary, down to the next line—the text reflows. A comparison is shown in Figure 11.5.

Figure 11.1Figure 11.5 Compare the pairs. Observe how adding a single word extends the point type past the acceptable boundary, but simply causes the paragraph type to reflow without affecting the width of the type container.

Working with Type Layers

As long as type remains part of a type layer, it remains editable. You can return to the type layer at any time and make changes to the character and paragraph characteristics, or edit the text itself. After the layer is rasterized or merged or the image is flattened, the type can no longer be edited as type. (You can, of course, edit the pixels, but you cannot, for example, highlight a word with the Type tool and overtype to correct a spelling error.)

In many ways, type layers are comparable to other non-background layers. Layer styles can be applied, type layers can be moved in the Layers palette, they can become part of a layer set, and adjustment layers can be applied (see Figure 11.6).

Figure 11.1Figure 11.6 The Layers palette indicates what effects and adjustments have been applied to the type layers.

A type layer is always indicated by the letter T in place of a layer thumbnail in the Layers palette. Like other layers, you can click on the layer's name and rename it. (By default, Photoshop names a type layer using the first characters of the layer's content.) You can change the blending mode and opacity of a type layer and create layer-based slices from type layers.

Unlike other non-background layers, you cannot add pixels to a type layer. You cannot paint on a type layer, nor can you stroke or fill a selection. The adjustment tools (Blur, Sharpen, Dodge, Burn, Sponge, Smudge) cannot be used on type layers.

Warping Type

Among the most fun tools in Photoshop is Warp Text. You can apply preset distortions to type and customize their effects, and the type remains completely editable. You can apply layer styles to the warped text as well (see Figure 11.7).

The Warp Text dialog box can be opened with the button to the right of the color swatch in the Options Bar (when a Type tool is active) or with the menu command Layer, Type, Warp Text. The dialog box allows you to select any of 15 shapes and then use three sliders to adjust the result (see Figure 11.8).

Figure 11.1Figure 11.7 Each of the five examples is on a separate type layer.


Figure 11.1Figure 11.8 To remove an existing warp effect, select None from the top of the Style pop-up menu.

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