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Author David Blatner provides in-depth training on InDesign CS5, the print and interactive page layout application from Adobe, in InDesign CS5 Essential Training. The course shows how to create new documents with strong and flexible master pages, precisely position text and graphics, prepare documents for print, and export designs as interactive PDF or Flash SWF files. Exercise files are included with the course.
I get asked this question all the time, how do I put text on a path instead of inside of a path? It's not a foolish question, because InDesign does not make it obvious at all how to do that. But once you see how to do it, you'll find that it's not that difficult at all. First, I need a path, I'm just going to use an Ellipse tool here to drag out kind of a nice shape here, and why don't I use the Rotate widget up here, I'll change that's to 50, and drag this down into more or less position, just so I have a path that I'm going to put my text on.
Now if I choose the Type tool and place the cursor over the edge of this Ellipse, it might look like if I click, I might be putting some text on the side there but in fact that's not the case. If I'd click and start typing, you'll see that the text goes into the frame, not on it, so that's not what I want. So I'm going to undo with Command+Z or Ctrl+Z a couple of times. And I'm going to show you that instead you should use not the Type tool at all, but click-and-hold it just for a moment, and you see there is a whole separate tool called the Type on a Path tool. You can get to that by pressing Shift+T, when you're not editing text.
So now that I have the Type on a Path tool, I can place that near the edge, and I'll see the cursor changed to a little Plus Sign there. That's the indicator that it's safe to click, and now that I've clicked, I can start typing. I'll just type a little bit of text here, and I need to format that text. It's little bit too hard to read. So, I'm going to go to the Window menu, choose from the Styles sub-menu, and choose Paragraph Styles. I have a Paragraph Style all set up here that I can click on called Blue Type on a Path, there we go.
It's just is a nice fast way of formatting text quickly. I'll be covering Styles in a later chapter, but for now that was such a fast way to get the formatting I needed. I'll go ahead, and close that panel and show you more stuff about Type on a Path. So you see the text is going on the path just the way we want, but maybe it's not in exactly the right position. How do I move it back-and-forth on that path? Well, for that I need the Selection tool, so, I'm going to press the Escape key as such a little shortcut to jump back to the Selection tool, and I'm going to zoom in on this a little bit with the Command+Plus, or Ctrl+Plus on Windows, just to see the details of this more closely.
Now, this is a very confusing part about Text on a Path. You see how, there is this weird shape thing with two little squares, and some vertical lines, and so on. Well, here is what's going on? Type on a Path should be treated just like a text frame, which has been wrapped around the path that fits one paragraph. That's what's going on here. It starts at this point where I clicked, and it's wrapping all the way around the path, and it ends here. In any text frame as you know has an inport and then outport for doing threading.
That's what's going on here. The vertical lines are the edges of that frame as it were, and those little white boxes are the inport and outport. Now I can actually drag those lines, if I'm careful. You really have to be careful to look at the cursor. Right now what I'm seeing0-- if you really squint, you'll see this. I'm seeing a cursor with a little tiny line and a left-arrow, and that indicates that if I drag, I'm going to be dragging the left line over. See how that worked? I can do the same thing on this line as well.
Now I see a cursor with a little tiny itsy bitsy right-arrow next to it, and if I drag that, I'm dragging the left edge of my text there. So I can move it back-and-forth along my path by dragging that left edge. I'm going to go ahead and drag this side, the edge of that all the way over to the right here, and you can see that I can even drag it all the way over until the text won't fit inside that path anymore, and I get a little Plus Sign overset mark just like a text frame. And in fact, Text on a Path acts just like a text frame, so I can thread it from one frame to another, or one line to another, I'll show you how to do that? Use the Selection tool to click on the outport, and then come over here and click on this new path, and you'll see that now the text is threaded from this path to this path, and that's pretty cool.
Once I do that, I can adjust that text of course by dragging the endpoints, so I can put more text on this side, and less on this, and so on. I didn't get my extra space in there, so I'm going to double-click with the Selection tool to switch the Type tool temporarily, press Space just so I can fix that, good. Hit Escape to go back to adjusting the object itself, and I'll zoom out to see how it looks with the Command+Minus or Ctrl+Minus on Windows hitting that a few times until I could see more of the page. So that's pretty darn cool, but there is actually one more thing about Text on a Path that I want to point out to you.
I'm going to actually select both of those objects, I just Shift+Clicked over on this Text on a Path as well, so we can see both of those. Now I'll zoom back in, so I can see the text more clearly. Now, I'm going to go to the Type menu, and scroll-down to the Type on a Path sub-menu, and there is a couple of things I need to point out, one is I can delete the Type from the Path, this is how you turn something that has Text on a Path into just Paths. I just selected that, so the text just goes thrown away. That's not actually what I wanted to do, but I wanted to show you that you can do it. Let me undo that, Command+Z or Ctrl+Z on Windows, and instead I'm going to go to Type on a Path > Options, we can move this out of the way.
This is where the power is for really fine-tuning the text on that path. For example, I can turn on the Flip checkbox, and because the Preview checkbox is turned on, I see it take effect immediately. The Type actually flipped over to the inside of the path, instead of the outside of the path. So that's one option, we turn that off. Another thing I can control is what part of the text is going to align to the path. Right now, I'm aligning the Baseline of the text to the path, but I could change this to something else, for example, the Center of the text. And now the Center of the text is aligned along the path.
So, that can give you a slightly different effect. And then if you want to have some fun with this text, try changing the effect. Right now, this is set to Rainbow, which means the text will move along the path like the colors will move along the Rainbow, but if you change this to something completely different like Skew, you get all kinds of wacky effects. This is probably not what we want but it's interesting to play around with these effects to get a sense of what kinds of cool things you can do with Text on a Path. 3D Ribbon makes the text kind of skew and rotate so on around the path. Stair Step is kind of interesting for some effects.
Gravity makes everything kind of warped into the center of gravity, each object has it's own center of gravity which is the center point of the frame itself, and all the text is being sort of pulled into that center of gravity, but you know ultimately all of those are cool, but generally you're just going to be using Rainbow, so that's the one that I'm going to stick with right now, and I'll click OK. So, setting text along a path is a wonderful way to create all kinds of special effects on your page. As we saw, you can even edit that text later, but editing along a path can be well challenging.
Fortunately, that's where InDesign Story Editor comes to the rescue.
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