Written by Steve Patterson. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, yet sometimes, the picture alone may not be enough. Often, we need to add a word, phrase or caption to an image to help convey a certain message. Or we may be designing a print or web layout and need text for headings, banners or buttons. And of course, sometimes we just want to create cool looking text effects. As a photo editor and graphic design tool, Photoshop is probably not the software you want to be using if your goal is to write the next great novel, or if you want to update your resumé (in case the writing thing doesn’t work out). Yet it does have many of the same type features found in other programs like Illustrator and InDesign, making it more than capable of adding simple and stylish text to our images and designs. In this tutorial, we’ll cover the basics and essentials of working with text in Photoshop!
There’s two main kinds of type that we can add in Photoshop – point type and area type. By far the most commonly used of the two is point type which is what we’ll be looking at in this tutorial. In the next tutorial, we’ll learn the difference between the two and how to add area type to our documents.
The Type Tool
Whenever we want to add any sort of text to a document, we use Photoshop’s Type Tool which is found in the Tools panel along the left side of the screen. It’s the icon that looks like a capital letter T. You can also select the Type Tool by pressing the letter T on your keyboard:
With the Type Tool selected, your mouse cursor will change into what’s commonly referred to as an "I-beam". I’ve enlarged it a bit here to make it easier to see:
Choosing A Font
As soon as we select the Type Tool, the Options Bar along the top of the screen updates to show us options related to the Type Tool, including options for choosing a font, a font style and the font size:
To view the complete list of fonts that are available to you, click on the small down-pointing triangle to the right of the font selection box:
This opens a list of all the fonts you can choose from. The exact fonts you’ll see in your list will depend on which fonts are currently installed on your system:
Changing The Size Of The Font Preview
If you’re using Photoshop CS2 or higher, Photoshop lists not only the name of each font but also a handy preview of what the font looks like (using the word “Sample” to the right of the font’s name):
We can change the size of the font preview by going to Photoshop’s Preferences settings. On a PC, go up to the Edit menu in the Menu Bar along the top of the screen, choose Preferences, and then choose Type. On a Mac, go to the Photoshop menu, choose Preferences, then choose Type. This opens Photoshop’s Preferences dialog box set to the Type options.
The last option in the list is Font Preview Size. By default, it’s set to Medium. You can click on the word “Medium” and choose a different size from the list. I’ll choose the Extra Large size:
Click OK to close out of the Preferences dialog box, and now if we go back up to the Options Bar and bring up the list of fonts again, we see that the font previews now appears much larger. The larger size makes the previews easier to see but they’re also taking up more space. Personally I prefer to stick with the default Medium size but it’s completely up to you. You can go back to the Preferences and change the preview size at any time:
Choosing A Font Style
Once you’ve chosen a font, choose the font style by clicking on the triangle to the right of the Style selection box:
Select the style you need (Regular, Bold, Italic, etc.) from the list that appears. The style choices you’re given will depend on the font you’ve chosen since some fonts have more styles available than others:
Setting The Font Size
Choose a size for your font by clicking on the triangle to the right of the Size selection box:
This will open a list of commonly-used preset sizes that you can choose from, ranging from 6 pt up to 72 pt:
If none of these sizes suit your needs, you can manually enter any value you want into the Size box. Simply click and drag over the existing size to highlight it, type in the new size, then press Enter (Win) / Return (Mac) on your keyboard to accept it. I’ve manually changed the size to 120 pt here just as an example (don’t worry about adding the "pt" at the end of the number because Photoshop will automatically add it when you press Enter / Return):
Choosing The Text Color
The Options Bar is also where we choose a color for our text. A color swatch appears near the far right of the options. By default, the color is set to black. To change the color, click on the swatch:
Photoshop will pop open the Color Picker where we can choose a different color for the text. For now, I’m going to leave mine set to black so I’ll simply click the Cancel button to cancel out of the Color Picker. If you do select a new text color, click OK when you’re done to close out of the Color Picker:
Adding Type To The Document
As I mentioned briefly at the beginning of the tutorial, there’s two different types of, well, type, that we can add to a document in Photoshop. We can add point type (also known as character type), and we can add area type (also known as paragraph type). The difference between them is that point type is mainly used for adding small amounts of text to a document (a single letter or word, a heading, etc.) while area type is used for adding larger amounts of text inside a pre-selected area. The one we’re looking at here is point type because it’s the most straightforward of the two and the one you’ll use most often.
To add point type, simply click with the Type Tool in the spot where you want your text to begin. A blinking insertion marker will appear letting you know that Photoshop is ready for you to start typing, but as soon as you click, before you even begin typing, Photoshop will add a special kind of layer known as a Type layer to your document, which we can see in the Layers panel. It’s easy to spot Type layers because they have a capital letter T in their thumbnail. Any time we add text to a document, it’s placed on a Type layer. Photoshop will initially give the new Type layer a generic name like "Layer 1", but the name will actually change once we’ve added our text, as we’ll see in a moment:
Once you’ve clicked in the document with the Type Tool and you have your blinking insertion marker, you can begin typing. Here I’ve added a short sentence to my document:
Moving Text As You’re Typing
If you realize as you’re typing that your text needs to be repositioned, you can easily move it into place without needing to cancel out of it and start over again. Just move your mouse cursor away from the text until you see the cursor change from the Type Tool’s I-beam into the Move Tool‘s icon. Click and drag the text into its new location, then continue typing:
Accepting The Text
To accept the text when you’re done, click on the checkmark in the Options Bar:
If you have a keyboard with a numeric keypad, you can also accept the text by pressing the Enter key on the numeric keypad (usually in the bottom right corner of the keypad). Or, if you don’t have a numeric keypad on your keyboard, you can press Ctrl+Enter (Win) / Command+Return (Mac) to accept the text.
Once you’ve accepted your text, Photoshop renames the Type layer using the first part of your text as the new name for the layer, which can be very helpful if we start adding multiple Type layers to our document:
Adding A Line Break
You may be thinking that you should just be able to press the normal Enter (Win) / Return (Mac) key on your keyboard to accept the text, but that actually won’t work because instead of accepting the text, it adds a line break to the text, allowing you to continue typing on a new line below the initial one:
Again, when you’re done typing, accept the text either by clicking the checkmark in the Options Bar, by pressing the Enter key on a numeric keypad, or by pressing Ctrl+Enter (Win) / Command+Return (Mac).
Cancel Or Delete Text
If you haven’t yet accepted your text and simply want to cancel out of it, press the Esc key on your keyboard. This will clear the text you were typing and will delete the Type layer that Photoshop added for the text. If you need to delete text that you’ve already accepted, click on its Type layer in the Layers panel and drag it down on to the Trash Bin:
The Text Alignment Options
Also found in the Options Bar are three common text alignment options – Left Align Text, Center Text and Right Align Text. By default, the Left Align Text option is selected, which means that as we type, the text is added to the right of the insertion point. Choosing Right Align Text will add the text to the left of the insertion point, while Center Text will extend the text out in both directions equally from the insertion point. It’s best to make sure you have the correct alignment option chosen before you begin typing, but you can go back and change the alignment of text that you’ve already added by first selecting its Type layer in the Layers panel, then, with the Type Tool selected, simply choose a different alignment option in the Options Bar:
Up next, we’ll learn how to select and edit text after it’s been added to the document!
Selecting And Editing Text
We can easily go back and edit our text at any time, just like we could in a word processing program. Here’s some text I’ve added with a couple of obvious spelling mistakes:
The first word, "speling", should have two letter l’s in it. To fix the problem, I’ll first make sure I have my Type Tool selected, then I’ll move my mouse cursor over the word and I’ll click to place my insertion marker between the letters "e" and "l":
With the insertion marker in place, all I need to do is press the letter “l” on my keyboard to add it to the word:
If you click in the wrong spot and place your insertion marker between the wrong letters, use the left and right arrow keys on your keyboard to easily move the insertion marker left or right along the text as needed.
The second word in my text, “mystakes”, should be spelled with an “i” instead of a “y”, so this time, I’ll click with my Type Tool between the letters “m” and “y” and with my mouse button still held down, I’ll drag across the letter “y” to highlight it:
With the letter highlighted, I’ll press “i” on my keyboard to make the change:
We’ve seen how to select a single letter by clicking and dragging over it. To select an entire word, there’s no need to click and drag. Simply double-click with the Type Tool on the word to instantly highlight it, at which point you can delete it by pressing Backspace (Win) / Delete (Mac) on your keyboard or you can type a different word to replace it:
To select an entire line of text, triple-click with the Type Tool anywhere on the text:
If you have multiple lines of text separated by line breaks, and all of the text is on the same Type layer, you can quickly select it all by double-clicking on the Type layer’s thumbnail in the Layers panel:
This will instantly select all of the text on the layer:
Changing The Font, Style And Size
We can also go back at any time and change the font, font style or font size, and we don’t need to select any text in the document to do it. Here I have some text that was added with my font set to Arial, the style set to Regular, and the font size set to 48 pt:
Make sure you have the Type Tool selected, then select the Type layer in the Layers panel:
With the Type layer selected, go back up to the Options Bar and make any changes you need. I’ll change my font to Futura, the style to Medium and the size to 36 pt:
Photoshop will instantly update your text in the document with the changes:
Changing The Text Color
We can change the color of our text just as easily. Again, make sure the Type Tool is selected and that the Type layer for the text is selected in the Layers panel. Then, click on the color swatch in the Options Bar:
Photoshop will re-open the Color Picker for us so we can choose a new text color. I’ll choose red:
Click OK when you’re done to close out of the Color Picker, and the text is instantly updated with the new color:
If you want to change the color of just a single letter or word, highlight the letter or word with the Type Tool:
Then, just as we saw a moment ago, click on the color swatch in the Options Bar to bring up the Color Picker and choose the color you want. Click OK to close out of the Color Picker once you’ve chosen a color and Photoshop changes the color of just the text you highlighted:
And that’s the basics of adding text to our documents in Photoshop! In this tutorial, we learned how to add short, simple text using point type. In the next tutorial, we’ll learn how to add larger amounts of text inside a pre-selected area using area type, and we’ll look at some additional type options that are available in Photoshop’s Character and Paragraph panels!