The bulk of your control over type comes from the Character palette. This palette gives you access to control over the characters in your text block including basics such as font, size, and weight, as well as important advanced controls like kerning and baseline shift. If you don't see the Character palette icon in the Options bar, choose Window > Character. There's a lot of controls here... all of them essential, so let's take a look at each one.
Setting the font family simply means picking the font you want to use. Nothing too complex, but navigating hundreds of fonts in your Font Family menu can be time-consuming. Here are a few tips to get things done faster:
Certain fonts will have multiple styles or weights; just look at the Font Style menu, which is to the right of the Font Family menu. Click the triangle to access the drop-down menu. This is where you can access variations like bold, italic, and condensed (as long as the font was designed that way.) This is a much better option than using the Type Enhancements buttons at the bottom of the Character palette. The Type Enhancement buttons simply thicken the character (for faux bold) or skew it (for faux italic). It is always better to use the true bold or italic versions created by the font's designer.
Traditionally, type is measured in points. The PostScript standard (which was developed for use by commercial and laser printers) uses 72 points per inch. However, this doesn't hold up very well, as different fonts will have different x-heights.
Instead of worrying about point size, just use it as a "relative" measurement. Increase the point size to make text appear larger, decrease it to reduce the size of the text. If you need to be more precise, such as designing text for the Web, you can measure in pixels.
To switch text to pixels:
Note: Finding Fonts
Here are a few of my favorite Web sites offering free and affordable fonts:
Pronounced "led-ing" as in the metal, not "lead-ing" as in sheep. Leading is the space between lines of type. The name comes from when strips of lead were used on a printing press to space out lines of text. Adjust your leading value to improve readability of your text. Leading works best when you are using Paragraph Text. By default, the leading should be set to Auto, however, adjust as needed to fit text into your design. Just be careful to avoid setting leading too tight, otherwise your ascenders and descenders will collide with negative impact on readability.
The space between individual letter pairs is called kerning. "So what," you say, "why bother?" Design pros always check their kerning. Adjusting the space between letters produces a better optical flow. Think of each word as existing in a stream; you are trying to balance out the spacing so the water flows evenly between each pair.
Taking the extra effort will produce text that is easier to read. This is especially true the bigger your text block gets. Inexpensive fonts and freeware fonts usually have the most kerning problems because it takes a lot of effort for a fontmaker to set proper kerning for every possible letter combination. Cheap or free fonts are just that... cheap or free. While you can adjust kerning using the Character palette, here's a more "organic" method:
Note: Good Kerning
For a more artistic example of good kerning, open the project file Surf Card.psd to examine its construction.
While kerning adjusts the space between pairs of letters, tracking affects all letters in the text block or the selection. Tracking can be adjusted to fit text into a smaller space, for example if you must fit a certain number of characters on a line without reducing point size. Conversely, you might choose a loose track to improve readability (especially if using all caps). Tracking, like kerning, is subjective and can be learned best by studying professional examples and looking for inspiration and guidance.
Need to make the text a little taller? Perhaps you want to make the text look a little skinnier or you are trying to create a stretched feeling. Well, you can adjust from 01000% if you are so inclined. Normally, this causes unintentional fluctuations in font appearance. If you are working on a shared computer, be sure to check this option before designing to avoid unintentional scaling.
Horizontal scale can be used to compress (or expand) the width of text. By scaling down, you can pack more text on a line. Increasing Horizontal Scale can make the text appear "fatter." Normally, this scaling is less desirable, and you should try to find a font that better matches your design goals. Be sure to check if scaling is applied before designing with the Type tool.
Earlier we discussed baseline when we looked at x-height. This is the virtual line that the characters sit on. If you need to create a stairstep approach, adjust the baseline settings. Additionally, you can use this command to reposition elements such as quote marks or apostrophes for design purposes.
By default, text in Photoshop is black. While black is a very functional color (a third of my wardrobe is black or a shade of black) it won't always work for your designs. Click the Color Swatch to load the Color Picker window. Click a radio button for the color model you want to work with, and then adjust the Color slider to taste. Click in the Color Field to choose the color you want. If you need to use a Pantone color (or at least a close equivalent), click the Color Libraries button.
Type Enhancement Buttons
Herein lies a collection of treasures as well as several booby traps. Some of these buttons are truly useful, but others are just plain bad.
Language Selection Menu
Computers should help make the design process easier... in this vein, recent versions of Photoshop ship with a built-in spell-checker. While not every country is represented, you do have obscure options like Nynorsk Norwegian and Turkish to get you through.
When designing text at low resolutions, adjusting your anti-alias settings can improve readability. Anti-aliasing blends the edge pixels of text. This option is most needed when working with complex character shapes. You have five methods to choose from: