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Introducton to Adobe Photoshop
About The Text Tool  

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Photoshop Standard Text Dialog Box

Photoshop Text Requester

PhotoTools™ Text Dialog Box
PhotoTools Text Requester

PhotoText is surrounded by an array of tools to add, manipulate and position text. The editing is done in text blocks of any size and number.

Color Picker

Color Picker

Use it to pick a color directly off the image. It also has a magnifier to zoom in to find that exact color.

The RGB read-out gives exact values. Switch back to the pointer and the RGB read-out changes to precise X and Y coordinate values.

Text Type

Point Size

The height portion of a type face determines the point size. Ascenders, descenders, and width are not considered. So depending on these other factors, type can be taller, shorter, wider, or narrower.

Text Size

  • Helvetica 23 point Font

  • Times New Roman 23 pt. Font

  • Brush Script MT Italic 23 pt. Font
  • Microsoft created Arial to replace the classic Helvetica.


Times New Roman 12 point font is considered a good default size for body copy. Notice that if Helvetica or Brush Script MT Italic 12 point fonts were used in place of the Times New Roman, the body copy area would change affecting the layout.

Many children, senior citizens, and adults with reading glasses prefer a larger type size than Times New Roman 12 points for their body copy.

  • 12 points in a pica
  • 6 picas in 1 inch


Kerning: Tracking or Character Spacing

Text Kerning

Kerning is an aesthetic regard for the negative space between characters. Study the two kerned samples to the left. The difference is subtle.

I prefer the letter spacing of the lower sample but kerning is a personal judgment call. The only difference between them is the kerning pair "Ty".

Most computer fonts today are proportionally spaced, meaning they are pre-kerned. Custom kerning is very labor intensive and it is usually reserved for use on large display type. Courier is the infamous non-proportional type carried over to PC's from the typewriter.

Many DTP applications use the term "tracking" for kerning. Microsoft Word™ refers to kerning as "character spacing."

Unfortunate Discovery

When I began this tutorial, I was using PhotoTools™ 1.0. Extensis gave me an upgrade to PhotoTools™ 2.0 after I discovered a bug.

Unfortunately, it still has a critical flaw. It discounts the font's kerning pair information. This cripples the power of PhotoText. Extensis is working to correct the problem in future upgrades.

The PhotoText example given at the beginning of this Text section still gives a strong idea for how text might be handled in future Photoshop upgrades. I still recommend Extensis™ PhotoTools™ for their other power packed components:

  • PhotoBevel
  • PhotoEmbos
  • PhotoGlow
  • PhotoCastShadow
  • PhotoButtons, and more.


The space between lines of type, measured base-to-base in points. A 14-point type has a standard leading of 18 points (120%). Leading is a term left over from the hot-metal typesetting days, in which strips of lead were inserted between lines of type.


A typeface can include many fonts. Helvetica is a typeface. A 16-point Helvetica is different from a 24-point Helvetica and from a 16-point Helvetica Italic. A font includes all of the type capitals and lowercase letters, numerics, and punctuation marks of one typeface in a specific point size.

Serif and Sans Serif Fonts

Serif and Sans Serif

Serifs are the ornamental finishing strokes at the end of the main strokes, such as the "feet" at the bottom of the Times New Roman "F".

Sans is the French word for "without". It is a blend of Latin sine and absentia, in the absence of. It also has another name, Gothic. Compared to Gothic, Serif has more of a Romanesque presence. This sans serif example is Helvetica.


Left justified This is a text block. This a a left justified text block. This a left justified text block.

Center justified This is a text block. This is a center justified text block. This is a center justified text block.

Right justified This is a text block. This is a right justified text block. This is a right justified text block.

Fully justified type has all
its .lines . the .same . length
(unless they're . indented or
end of a paragraph.), ..pro-
ducing even left . and . right
margins.The word spacing
varies, .and hyphenation is
used as necessary.

Comment: As a graphic element, fully justified type looks great. Unfortunately, it is hard to read. The default ragged left justified setting works for most general purpose uses. Compare and make your own judgment.

This completes this section. The next section is the Real World Example. You might take a breather before moving on. The following section is fun but intense.

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