Start your free trial now, and begin learning software, business and creative skills—anytime, anywhere—with video instruction from recognized industry experts.

Start Your Free Trial Now

Animating paragraph type


After Effects: Principles of Motion Graphics

with Ian Robinson

Video: Animating paragraph type

Animating paragraph type is very much like animating point type. The power of paragraph type lies with the paragraph type layout tools, like Every-line Composer or Roman Hanging Punctuation. Now if you don't know what either of those terms mean, don't worry about it; we're definitely going to cover that in this video. But we're also going to cover some basic techniques that I like to use to manipulate large blocks of type. So to see what's going on in the project, let's go ahead and load up a RAM preview.
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 3m 37s
    1. Welcome
      1m 1s
    2. Using the exercise files
      1m 4s
    3. Defining motion graphics
      1m 32s
  2. 11m 11s
    1. Workflow for creating motion graphics
      5m 7s
    2. Organizing projects for motion graphics
      4m 25s
    3. Defining a motion graphics "package"
      1m 39s
  3. 12m 58s
    1. Collecting visual inspiration
      2m 14s
    2. Listening to imagine
      3m 20s
    3. Creating elements for inspiration
      7m 24s
  4. 33m 4s
    1. Essential theories of typography
      6m 34s
    2. Understanding shortcuts for setting type in AE
      7m 27s
    3. Converting type from Photoshop
      5m 51s
    4. Importing type from illustrator
      9m 44s
    5. Creating shapes from text
      3m 28s
  5. 36m 30s
    1. Understanding the role of timing in motion graphics
      8m 1s
    2. Creating and using markers
      7m 58s
    3. Creating animation with markers
      5m 16s
    4. Using audio to create animated graphics
      5m 47s
    5. Editing techniques for graphics and video
      9m 28s
  6. 49m 27s
    1. Understanding different kinds of type in After Effects
      15m 53s
    2. Using animators with type
      7m 59s
    3. Using type presets
      7m 35s
    4. Creating custom type presets
      4m 35s
    5. Animating paragraph type
      13m 25s
  7. 45m 51s
    1. Exploring the use of color in motion graphics
      10m 40s
    2. Creating and using color palettes
      13m 45s
    3. Exploring color correction tools in AE
      6m 46s
    4. Advanced correction with Color Finesse
      8m 30s
    5. Creating custom color presets
      6m 10s
  8. 59m 6s
    1. Exploring textures in motion graphics
      8m 30s
    2. Building an animated background texture
      16m 48s
    3. Creating textures for type
      10m 19s
    4. Animating seamless textures
      15m 1s
    5. Creating custom vignettes
      8m 28s
  9. 38m 25s
    1. Understanding lighting in After Effects
      12m 57s
    2. Intro to lighting techniques
      5m 17s
    3. Using material settings to enhance lighting
      7m 36s
    4. Adding polish to a light setup
      12m 35s
  10. 50m 32s
    1. Animating swoops and swooshes
      12m 37s
    2. Creating repeating light trails with the Vegas effect
      6m 28s
    3. Repeating patterns with shape layers
      8m 11s
    4. Exploring graphic transitions
      10m 37s
    5. Exploring video transitions
      5m 16s
    6. Adding dynamic elements to a video transition
      7m 23s
  11. 22m 23s
    1. Working in 3D
      8m 36s
    2. Rigging cameras for animation
      8m 45s
    3. Working with depth of field
      5m 2s
  12. 50m 54s
    1. Creating storyboards in After Effects
      10m 20s
    2. Creating an animatic
      18m 14s
    3. Polishing the animation and timing
      8m 45s
    4. Applying the final effects
      13m 35s
  13. 47m 53s
    1. Preparing a map for animation
      7m 59s
    2. Animating and styling a map
      8m 24s
    3. Designing a lower-third graphic
      8m 22s
    4. Adding animation to the lower-third graphic
      9m 10s
    5. Creating bumper animations
      13m 58s
  14. 14m 17s
    1. Defining the toolkit
      2m 2s
    2. Preparing templates
      7m 12s
    3. Creating a style guide
      5m 3s
  15. 1m 3s
    1. Next Steps
      1m 3s

please wait ...
Watch the Online Video Course After Effects: Principles of Motion Graphics
7h 57m Intermediate Feb 09, 2011

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

After Effects: Principles of Motion Graphics with Ian Robinson covers some of the core principles used to create motion graphics, breaking them down into smaller groups of applied techniques in After Effects. The course explores everything from gathering inspiration to integrating traditional typography, transitional elements, animated textures, color, and more into motion graphics. Instructions for building a toolkit with templates and a style guide for future projects are also included. Exercise files accompany the course.

Topics include:
  • Converting type from Photoshop and Illustrator
  • Creating shapes from text
  • Using markers in animation
  • Editing techniques for graphics
  • Using type presets
  • Animating type
  • Exploring color correction tools
  • Building animated textures
  • Creating custom vignettes
  • Understanding Lights and Material settings
  • Adding dynamic transitions
  • Rigging cameras for animation
  • Working efficiently in 3D space
After Effects
Ian Robinson

Animating paragraph type

Animating paragraph type is very much like animating point type. The power of paragraph type lies with the paragraph type layout tools, like Every-line Composer or Roman Hanging Punctuation. Now if you don't know what either of those terms mean, don't worry about it; we're definitely going to cover that in this video. But we're also going to cover some basic techniques that I like to use to manipulate large blocks of type. So to see what's going on in the project, let's go ahead and load up a RAM preview.

And as you can, see about every couple of seconds the background changes. So let's select layer 2 and press U to open up all the keyframes on the layer. As you can see, we just have some position keyframes that are set to hold, and that creates this kind of interesting paper animation. Now this crinkled-up paper was pretty easy to create because all I did was used my digital camera and imported the photograph into After Effects. Now since Paper1 is all set up, let's go ahead and just lock that off, and what we want to do is manipulate the text layer.

If your interface doesn't look like this right now, I want you to go up to the Workspace and make sure that Text is selected. Then you should be able to see the Character panel and the Paragraph panel on the right-hand side. So, first things first. Let's divide up this paragraph into two separate sections. I just want to give it a little bit more visual interest. Press Command+T to grab your Type tool and click right at the end of the sentence where it says "morning." Now to make sure there's no space, go ahead and keep deleting until you see a character disappear.

I'll make sure that period reappears. And now we can press Return. Whenever you add a return in paragraph type, it's telling the software that you want a new paragraph. I can't really see that many visual cues letting me know that this is a paragraph. So what I'm going to do is just grab my Selection tool, making sure my Type layer is selected, I'm going to look at some of the options in the Paragraph panel. First thing, I want to adjust the space between the paragraphs, and you can do that by clicking and dragging on this parameter right here.

So we'll just add a little bit of space. Let's drag it out to around 20. Now if we open up our text layer, under the Text options, notice Source Text has been highlighted. What this is telling me is that anytime I change any of these parameters, it's going to allow me to add a keyframe under Source Text. Now it is interesting. Source Text will keyframe all of these individual parameters as one keyframe. So if I keyframe Source Text right now and move my playhead a little further down the Timeline and the adjust another parameter like the one to the right here, this Indent parameter, now notice as I drag that to the right, I have got a second keyframe.

So if we move my playhead back to the beginning and scrub through, you notice I have the line kind of bouncing back and forth. We could sit here and keep tweaking till the cows come home, but I want to cover a few more things in the Paragraph panel, and then we'll actually get to animating the appearance of the type and flying things around the screen. So move your playhead down the Timeline to around two seconds, and let's open up the flyout options in the Paragraph panel. First thing I want you to look at is this Adobe Single-line Composer versus Every-line Composer.

Click on Every-line Composer, and as you can see, not much changed in the scene. But what I want to tell you is the Single-line Composer and the Every-line Composer analyzes the paragraph slightly differently, and basically when you choose Every-line Composer, it's a little more processor-intensive because the software is analyzing character by character and trying to help decide exactly how the text is to wrap through the specific bounding box. So a lot of times, if I'm not getting a layout I like, I'll go in and adjust this composer first.

Now another thing I want you to pay attention to is this Roman Hanging Punctuation. Now to really see Roman Hanging Punctuation, I am going to select all my keyframes and drag them way over to the right, just so my text is the way it was originally, left justified. Now if we go in and select Roman Hanging Punctuation, look at the quotes in front of the first line. Notice they jumped to the outside here.

If I zoom in on the canvas--I'm just using my scroll wheel and I pan over pressing the Spacebar to grab my Hand tool-- you'll notice the quotes are now outside of the bounding box. That's a really nice option, especially when you're doing animation of quotes, because then you can lay out the type very specifically and just really have the quotes frame the type, as opposed to being an integral part of the layout. If you go through and make all these adjustments and really don't like what's going on, you can always click on the flyout menu and choose Reset Paragraph.

But I sort of like what's going on in the scene, so I'm going to leave this alone. Now it's time to actually animate the appearance of this type, so before we do that, I am just going to move this one keyframe down the Timeline because basically, I want to have a very organized animation of the type appearing on the screen, and then towards the end of the animation, I want the text layer to actually kind of freak out and do some different changes. So let's move our playhead back to the beginning by pressing Home and select our Type layer.

Since I want this type to appear on the screen like it is being typed by a typewriter, I am just going to go up under Animation and choose Browse Presets. Under Browse Presets, let's go to Text and Animate In and look for the Type option. Typewriter. Sure enough, that's exactly what I am looking for, so let's double-click it and now I'll apply to the overall paragraph. If I open up Animator 1 and open up the Range Selector, you can see here, I have two keyframes, and if I drag, the entire paragraph is typing on within two seconds.

Well, I don't really want to do that. What I want to do is have a little bit of the Text type on and then pause for a minute and then a little more and then pause for a minute. So the easiest way to do that is decide the overall length of the Type animation. Let's drag the second keyframe down the Timeline until just before our set of freak-out keyframes appear. So now, if I scrub through, you'll notice the text is typing on the screen, and let me go ahead and refit the canvas.

You'll notice the text is typing on the screen and it will type on over about seven seconds. Now, in order to get the pauses in here, go ahead and scrub your playhead in the Timeline until you get to a place where you want to actually stop. Then if you want the typing to stop, go ahead and click this keyframe, Add keyframe button right here on the left-hand side of your Timeline. Now, we have a keyframe for this specific point in time. Now, if I move my playhead, it's just going to keep typing.

If you want it to pause, with this second keyframe highlighted, all you have to do is just Command+C to copy, Command+V to paste. And now when the type types on the page, it'll type and then pause, and then it won't continue until it hits the next keyframe. So let's go ahead and make the pause a little longer, and we'll have the type appear all the way to the end of this sentence, earth. Now, if you're having a hard time with specific characters appearing, just get up relatively close and then scrub the actual parameter. So here, I'll scrub this.

It's between 26 and 27. So let's say 26. No, it's between 25 and 26, so 25. Okay, 25.6. And yes, this is not an exact science, even though it is kind of exacting. All right, so here we've got it typing and then going to the next one and again we want this to pause, so we'll copy and paste. Sure enough, there we go. So that looks pretty good.

Now it's time to actually position the text layer around the screen as these lines type on. So to do that, let's move our playhead back to the beginning, and I want to add a null object to the scene. To do that, go up under Layer and choose Null Object. Now if you are unfamiliar with null objects, it's a great way to add more control to your animations because you can add keyframes to the null objects and you're technically not adding anything to the scene that you're going to see in the actual render.

You're just adding, in essence, a controller. So this null object I want to control the Type layer. So I need to select the Type layer and make sure the Parent panel is visible. If you're not seeing it, right-click right next to the source name and under Columns, make sure Parent is selected. With the Type layer selected, go ahead and click on the parent pick whip and choose Null 1. With Null 1 selected, as I move Null 1 around the page, the type will move around the page.

I am not seeing that because the type hasn't started typing it. So let's go ahead and get to our first pause. To zoom in on a specific area, what I am actually going to do is unparent the null object and reposition it. I'll just click position here, so we can see what's going on. Move the null object right up to where your type is that's on the page. That way when you go ahead and parent the text to it, you'll actually be moving the text right next to the null object.

So with the null object selected right here, what I want to do is position it in the screen and add a keyframe, and just so I know in reference to the typing, let's go ahead and select the Type layer and press U, and that way we can see the typing that's actually happening. So okay, I'm set for position, but what I want to do is actually add a Scale parameter to the null. So let's select the null object, Shift+ S to open up scale, while keeping the position open, and now we can scale this up.

If I really wanted to get precise, I could scale this up and then keyframe the position sliding back and forth as the type appears, but we're not going to get that crazy right now. Let's just go ahead and zoom in a little bit, so we have a little bit larger type on the screen. So now the type starts appearing and then it pauses, and then just as the type starts typing again, let's go ahead and start moving the type up the screen. So to add another keyframe to the position data, just click right here between the navigation markers, and now we've added a new position keyframe, and let's move down to when the type has stopped typing and just move the null object up on the page.

As you click and drag, if you hold Shift as you start dragging, you can make sure that the object is snapping on a particular axis, in this case the Y axis. So now you'll notice the type comes on the screen, and then when it starts typing again, we have it moving up the screen. We can do the same exact thing again once the type starts typing the rest of the way, by just adding another position keyframe as well as adding another scale keyframe, and let's move down the Timeline till we get to our last keyframe for the type effect. And let's scale this down and reposition our type on the page.

It's important not to forget: whenever you have type on the screen, make sure your Title/Action Safe guidelines are open. So now with the guides up, I can go ahead and scale this down and reposition this layer just a little bit, so I know that all the text is inside of Title/Safe. Now if we move our playhead back to the beginning and do a RAM preview, we've got some pretty cool type animation, as well as a little bit of some paragraph animation happening at the end of our composition.

But all in all, I hope you learned a little bit about parenting and controlling type and more importantly, some of the neat options available to you in the Paragraph panel.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about After Effects: Principles of Motion Graphics .

Expand all | Collapse all
please wait ...
Q: How do I transition from one piece of animated type to another in After Effects?
A: There isn't an effect that can create these types of transitions. It's really a matter of animating the type and camera, using basic keyframing and positioning.
If you understand the basics of moving the anchor point of a type layer, animating the parameters of that layer (Scale, Rotation, Position, etc.) and then separately animating the camera around the type layers, you can achieve different types of transitions.  Check out the following videos for more information:

Share a link to this course

What are exercise files?

Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course. Save time by downloading the author's files instead of setting up your own files, and learn by following along with the instructor.

Can I take this course without the exercise files?

Yes! If you decide you would like the exercise files later, you can upgrade to a premium account any time.

Become a member Download sample files See plans and pricing

Please wait... please wait ...
Upgrade to get access to exercise files.

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

Learn by watching, listening, and doing, Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course, so you can download them and follow along Premium memberships include access to all exercise files in the library.

Exercise files

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

For additional information on downloading and using exercise files, watch our instructional video or read the instructions in the FAQ .

This course includes free exercise files, so you can practice while you watch the course. To access all the exercise files in our library, become a Premium Member.

Join now Already a member? Log in

* Estimated file size

Are you sure you want to mark all the videos in this course as unwatched?

This will not affect your course history, your reports, or your certificates of completion for this course.

Mark all as unwatched Cancel


You have completed After Effects: Principles of Motion Graphics.

Return to your organization's learning portal to continue training, or close this page.


Upgrade to View Courses Offline


With our new Desktop App, Annual Premium Members can download courses for Internet-free viewing.

Upgrade Now

After upgrading, download Desktop App Here.

Become a member to add this course to a playlist

Join today and get unlimited access to the entire library of video courses—and create as many playlists as you like.

Get started

Already a member ?

Exercise files

Learn by watching, listening, and doing! Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course, so you can download them and follow along. Exercise files are available with all Premium memberships. Learn more

Get started

Already a Premium member?

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

Ask a question

Thanks for contacting us.
You’ll hear from our Customer Service team within 24 hours.

Please enter the text shown below:

Exercise files

Access exercise files from a button right under the course name.

Mark videos as unwatched

Remove icons showing you already watched videos if you want to start over.

Control your viewing experience

Make the video wide, narrow, full-screen, or pop the player out of the page into its own window.

Interactive transcripts

Click on text in the transcript to jump to that spot in the video. As the video plays, the relevant spot in the transcript will be highlighted.

Learn more, save more. Upgrade today!

Get our Annual Premium Membership at our best savings yet.

Upgrade to our Annual Premium Membership today and get even more value from your subscription:

“In a way, I feel like you are rooting for me. Like you are really invested in my experience, and want me to get as much out of these courses as possible this is the best place to start on your journey to learning new material.”— Nadine H.

Start your FREE 10-day trial

Begin learning software, business, and creative skills—anytime,
anywhere—with video instruction from recognized industry experts. provides
Unlimited access to over 4,000 courses—more than 100,000 video tutorials
Expert-led instruction
On-the-go learning. Watch from your computer, tablet, or mobile device. Switch back and forth as you choose.
Start Your FREE Trial Now

A trusted source for knowledge.


We provide training to more than 4 million people, and our members tell us that helps them stay ahead of software updates, pick up brand-new skills, switch careers, land promotions, and explore new hobbies. What can we help you do?

Thanks for signing up.

We’ll send you a confirmation email shortly.

Sign up and receive emails about and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

Keep up with news, tips, and latest courses with emails from

Sign up and receive emails about and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

submit Lightbox submit clicked
Terms and conditions of use

We've updated our terms and conditions (now called terms of service).Go
Review and accept our updated terms of service.