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Tweaking Typography

TextEdit doesn’t offer the same range of typography tools that high-end word processors or page layout programs do, but it has some of the basics. Kerning (that is, how tightly individual characters are packed on the line) is controlled by using the Kern options in the Font submenu under the Format menubar item. There are only four options (Default, None, Tighten, and Loosen), and there’s no way to actually see what each of them is doing beyond experimentation.

Still, these options can be used quite effectively in situations in which the typeface used or the size of the font mean that the default settings aren’t perfect, as might be the case when crafting banners or titles for newsletters. Spacing between lines is set using its own pull-down menu at the top of the document window. As well as plain single and double-spacing, by selecting Other from the menu, you can tailor-make your own spacing settings as required.

Figure 7

Figure 7 The range of tools offered is small but adequate, and provides plenty of scope for creative and attractive typography, including drop shadows and the use of non-Roman alphabets.

Extra features are accessed through the Font palette (Command+T). The features available here are actually standard across OS X applications generally, but a few are worth recalling because of how much they expand TextEdit.

The gearwheel icon brings up a menu that activates a variety of extra tools, one of which is the Characters palette. This tool is great for adding non-Roman alphabet characters and symbols. The Typography palette is most useful with fonts such as Zapfino that have extra characters (known as glyphs) for each letter as well as built-in ligatures. If you select a word in TextEdit, the Typography palette will display the glyphs in use and enable you to quickly change them to different ones, so that you can tweak things such as titles to make them more eye-catching than before.

Playing with the color and drop shadow options in the Fonts palette is especially valuable when creating documents for print and distribution by PDF.

Figure 8

Figure 8 The Typography palette really shines with pro-level fonts that come with multiple glyphs, ligatures, and other niceties.

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