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Real World Adobe InDesign CS4: Placing Text on a Path

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Olav Martin Kvern and David Blatner, authors of Real World Adobe InDesign CS4, show you how InDesign can place text on a path, as well as place text inside a path.
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InDesign can place text on a path, as well as place text inside a path (which is what a text frame is, after all). Once you’ve added text to a path, you can select the text just as you would select any other text—select the Type tool and drag it through the characters you want to select, or click the Type tool in the text and use keyboard shortcuts. To select the path, use the Selection tool or Direct Selection tool.

To attach text to a path, follow these steps (see Figure 6-59).

Figure 6.59 Adding Text to a Path

  1. Select the Path Type tool.
  2. Move the tool over a path. The cursor changes to indicate that InDesign is ready to place text on the path.
  3. Click the tool on the path. InDesign places the cursor on the path. The position of the cursor depends on the document’s default paragraph alignment (if the default alignment is left, for example, the cursor will appear at the start of the path). Instead of clicking, you can drag the tool along the path to define the area of the path you want to fill with text.
  4. If InDesign cannot fit all of the text onto the path, the extra text is stored as overset text.

  5. Add text to the path just as you would add text to a text frame—by typing, pasting text from the Clipboard, or importing text from a text file. This creates a new kind of object—not a text frame, not a path, but a blending of the two we’ll refer to as a “path text object” from here on out.

Once you’ve attached text to a path, you can change its position on the path by dragging the Start Indicator or the End Indicator (see Figure 6-60), or change its orientation relative to the path using the Center/Flip Direction Indicator (see Figure 6-61).

Figure 6.60 Changing the Position of Text on a Path

Figure 6.61 Flipping Text on a Path

Like text frames, path text objects feature an in port and an out port you can use to link the text to other text containers (text frames or other text path objects). You can even link text from a path text object to the interior of the path text object. InDesign does not apply paragraph rules to text in path text objects.

Type on a Path Options

You can control both the baseline position of text on a path and the relationship of the text to the shape of the path. To do this, select a path text object (or some of the text on a path) and then choose Options from the Type on a Path submenu of the Type menu (or Context menu). InDesign displays the Type on a Path Options dialog box (see Figure 6-62).

Figure 6.62 Path Type Options

Effect. Do the character shapes distort in some way, or do they remain unchanged? That’s the question you’re answering when you make a choice from the Effect pop-up menu (see Figure 6-63). What, exactly, do these oddly named options do?

Figure 6.63 Path Type Effects

  • Rainbow rotates the center point of each baseline to match the angle of the path at the location of the character.
  • Skew skews the horizontal axis of the character to match the angle of the path at the location of the character, but leaves the vertical axis of the character unchanged.
  • 3D Ribbon skews the vertical axis of each character to match the angle of the path at the location of the character, but leaves the character’s horizontal axis unchanged.
  • Stair Step aligns the center point of each character’s baseline to match the angle of the path at the location of the character, but does not rotate the character.
  • Gravity rotates the center of the baseline of each character to match the angle of the path at the character, skews the horizontal axis of the character to match that angle, and skews the vertical axis of each character around the geometric center point of the path.

Flip. You’ve probably noticed that path text follows the direction of the path—the first character of the text typically appears at (or, if you’ve dragged the Path Type tool, nearest) the first point in the path. Given this, you’d think that you could select the path and choose Reverse Path from the Options menu to make the text read from the opposite end of the path. But you can’t (not without first removing the text from the path, anyway). To do what you’re trying to do, turn on the Flip option (see Figure 6-64).

Figure 6.64 Another Way to Flip Text on a Path

Align. These options control the way the text aligns to the path itself. Choose Ascender to align the top of the capital letters in the text (more or less) to the path, or choose Descender to position the bottoms of the characters on the path. Choose Center to align the text to the path at a point that’s half of the height of the capital characters in the font, or choose Baseline to align the baseline of the characters to the path (see Figure 6-65).

Figure 6.65 Align Options

To Path. The options on the To Path pop-up menu control the way that the text aligns to the stroke of the path. Choose Top to place the alignment point (whatever it was you chose from the Align pop-up menu) of the text at the top of the stroke; or Bottom to place it at the bottom of the stroke; or Center to align the alignment point of the text with the center of the path (see Figure 6-66). For more precise control of the text position, use baseline shift.

Figure 6.66 To Path Options

Spacing. The Spacing field (and attached pop-up menu) control the spacing of text around curves in the path. Enter a value (in points) in this field to tighten or loosen character spacing around curves (see Figure 6-67). Note that this setting has no effect on the kerning or tracking of text on straight line segments.

Figure 6.67 Spacing

Removing Type from a Path

To remove the text from a path type object and convert the object back into a “normal” path, you need to do more than simply delete the text characters. If you do this, the object remains a path type object. Instead, select the path (or some of the text on the path) and choose Delete Type on a Path from the Type on a Path submenu (of the Type menu or Context menu).

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