Adobe After Effects CS5 : Animating Text - Creating and formatting point text

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About text layers

In After Effects, you can add text with flexibility and precision. You can create and edit text directly on the screen in the Composition panel, and quickly change the font, style, size, and color of the text. You can add horizontal or vertical text anywhere in a composition. The Tools, Character, and Paragraph panels contain a wide range of text controls. You can apply changes to individual characters and set formatting options for entire paragraphs, including alignment, justification, and word-wrapping. In addition to all of these style features, After Effects provides tools for easily animating specific characters and properties, such as text opacity and hue.

After Effects uses two types of text: point text and paragraph text. Use point text to enter a single word or a line of characters; use paragraph text to enter and format text as one or more paragraphs.

In many ways, text layers are just like any other layer in After Effects. You can apply effects and expressions to text layers, animate them, designate them as 3D layers, and edit the 3D text while viewing it in multiple views. As with layers imported from Illustrator, text layers are continuously rasterized, so when you scale the layer or resize the text, it retains crisp, resolution-independent edges. The main differences between text layers and other layers are that you cannot open a text layer in its own Layer panel, and that you can animate the text in a text layer using special text animator properties and selectors.

Creating and formatting point text

When you enter point text, each line of text is independent—the length of a line increases or decreases as you edit the text, but it doesn’t wrap to the next line. The text you enter appears in a new text layer. The small line through the I-beam marks the position of the text baseline.

In the Tools panel, select the Horizontal Type tool ().

Click anywhere in the Composition panel, and type Road Trip. Then press Enter on the numeric keypad to exit text-editing mode and to select the text layer in the Composition panel. Or, you can select the layer name to exit text-editing mode.


If you press Enter or Return on the regular keyboard instead of on the numeric keypad, you’ll begin a new paragraph.

Using the Character panel

The Character panel provides options for formatting characters. If text is highlighted, changes you make in the Character panel affect only the highlighted text. If no text is highlighted, changes you make in the Character panel affect the selected text layers and the text layers’ selected Source Text keyframes, if any exist. If no text is highlighted and no text layers are selected, the changes you make in the Character panel become the new defaults for the next text entry.


To open the panels individually, choose Window > Character or Window > Paragraph. To open both panels, select the Horizontal Type tool and then click the Toggle The Character And Paragraph Panels button in the Tools panel.

Choose Window > Workspace > Text to display only those panels you need while working with text.

Select the Road Trip text layer in the Timeline panel.

In the Character panel, choose Myriad Pro from the Font Family menu. If you don’t have Myriad Pro, then choose another heavy sans serif typeface, such as Verdana.

Choose Bold from the Font Style menu. If Bold isn’t available, click the Faux Bold button () in the lower-left corner of the panel.

Set the Font Size to 90 pixels.

Leave all other options at their default settings.


To select a font quickly, begin typing its name in the Font Family box. The Font Family menu jumps to the first font on your system that matches the letters you’ve typed. If a type layer is selected, the text in the Composition panel takes on the newly selected font.

Using the Paragraph panel

Use the Paragraph panel to set options that apply to an entire paragraph, such as alignment, indentation, and leading. For point text, each line is a separate paragraph. You can use the Paragraph panel to set formatting options for a single paragraph, multiple paragraphs, or all paragraphs in a text layer. You just need to make one adjustment in the Paragraph panel for this composition’s title text.

In the Paragraph panel, click the Center Text button (). This aligns horizontal text to the center of the layer, not to the center of the composition.

Leave all other options at their default settings.

Positioning the type

To precisely position layers, such as the text layer you’re working on now, you can display rulers, guides, and grids in the Composition panel. These visual reference tools don’t appear in the final rendered movie.

Make sure the Road Trip text layer in selected in the Timeline panel.

Choose Layer > Transform > Fit To Comp Width. This scales the layer to fit it to the width of the composition.

Now you can position the text layer using a grid.

Choose View > Show Grid and then View > Snap to Grid.

Using the Selection tool (), drag the text up in the Composition panel until the base of the letters sits on the horizontal gridline in the center of the composition. Press Shift after you start dragging to constrain the movement and help you position the text.

When the layer is in position, choose View > Show Grid again to hide the grid.

This project isn’t destined for broadcast TV, so it’s okay that the title extends beyond the title-safe and action-safe areas of the composition at the beginning of the animation.

Choose Standard from the Workspace menu at the top of the application window to return to the Standard workspace, and then choose File > Save to save your project.
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