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Type Basics: The Paragraph Palette

Nested by default with the Character palette, the Paragraph palette (shown in Figure 5) can be shown and hidden from the collapsible palette dock, using the button in the Options Bar, through the Window menu, or with Cmd-T (Mac) or Ctrl+T (Windows) while editing or inputting type. This palette and its menu govern the appearance of a body of type. Photoshop considers a paragraph to be any amount of text followed by a return. Point type that appears on a single line without a return at the end is considered to be a paragraph for Photoshop's alignment options. (The difference between area type and point type are discussed in Part 1 of this series.)

Figure 5

Figure 5 Photoshop’s Paragraph palette give you control over area type.

All of the options in the Paragraph palette can be set individually for each paragraph. The entire paragraph need not be selected; simply click with a type tool in a paragraph to indicate that it's the target of the changes. You can highlight one or more characters from several paragraphs to select them all. If you don't click in the text, Photoshop will assume that changes made in the Paragraph palette should be applied to the entire type layer. If no type layer is active in the Layers palette, changes made will be used the next time the Type tool is used.

Alignment and Justification

Across the top of the palette are seven buttons that govern alignment and justification of paragraphs. What they do to a paragraph of text is apparent from the button icons. The first three buttons are alignment, arranging the text to have an even margin on the left, have each line centered, or have an even margin to the right. In each case, the text remains within the boundaries of its rectangle. The criteria by which Photoshop justifies are set using the dialog box opened with the Justification command in the Paragraph palette's menu.

The four remaining buttons at the top of the Paragraph palette determine justification. Justified text has even margins on both the left and right. These four options govern the last line of a paragraph. When the final line is not full (it does not naturally stretch from left to right margins), Photoshop offers several options. The final line can be aligned left, centered, aligned right, or justified. To justify the final line, space is added between words and, if necessary, letters. Should the final line be substantially shorter than the others, the amount of white space added can be unsightly and interfere with legibility. Note the difference in the final line of each paragraph. (The three alignment buttons are also used with Photoshop’s point type, but point type cannot be automatically justified.)


The second section of the Paragraph palette governs indentation. Entire paragraphs can be indented either to the left or the right or both (the upper pair of buttons) and you can specify separately indentation for the first line of a paragraph (the lower button in the middle section of the palette). By default, the unit of measure for indentation is points. That can be changed in Photoshop's preferences under Units & Rulers. (The Paragraph palette uses the unit of measure specified under Type.)

Figure 6

Figure 6 Using the Paragraph palette, you can simulate extending the first line of a paragraph to the left.

Paragraph Spacing

Also available in the Paragraph palette is paragraph spacing. Using the lowest set of buttons in the Paragraph palette, you can specify spacing before a paragraph (left), or space can be added after a paragraph (right). Like indentation, the Type unit of measure preference is used.


At the bottom of the palette is a checkbox that turns on and off hyphenation in the paragraph. Like the other Paragraph palette options, Hyphenation can be set on a paragraph-by-paragraph basis. Specific rules for hyphenation are set using the Paragraph palette's menu command of the same name (discussed in the following section).

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