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InDesign: How to Type on a Path?

Q: How to Type on a Path?

A:
Not only can text be set in frames of any shape, it can also be set around frames of any shape, on any open or closed path. Figure below shows a few different examples of type on a path. The concept of Type on a Path isn’t new—illustration applications and many page layout programs have had the ability for decades now. InDesign does it as well as any other application, and it has a few features you might be surprised to see in a page layout application.

Setting Type on a Path
Let’s start with a little hands-on.
1. With the Pen tool, draw a meandering open path. I’m going to use a gentle S curve see Figure , but any shape will do.
2. On the Tools panel, click and hold on the Type tool to reveal the Type on a Path tool behind it. The Type on a Path tool looks rather like a T sliding down a log flume ride.
3. Position the Type on a Path tool cursor near the beginning of the path. When you’re close enough, a little plus sign will appear in the upper-right quadrant of the cursor. Click.
4. You should now see a flashing I-beam cursor on the path itself. Type something and watch as your type follows the flow of the path (see Figure).
One of the differences between the way InDesign and other applications do type on a path is the fact that InDesign does not automatically strip the fill or stroke colour from the path. Notice the line stroke is still visible. This can be a good thing or a bad thing. To hide the path stroke, just remove it on the Swatches panel.

Editing Type on a Path
The text in the type on a path object is just standard text. You can style it however you like, including applying paragraph and character styles. Spell check, Find/Change, Autocorrect, and all the other text features of InDesign work on, and apply equally to, text in type on a path objects as framed type. They can even contain (or be) anchored objects. If your typing went too far, placing more text than will fit on the path, the text will overset just like a text frame. You can see in Figure
the little red plus sign indicating overset text after I increased the size of the type but not the size of the path on which it rides. The overset indicator appears in the outport of the type on a path object. If you look toward the other end of the path, you’ll also see a matching inport. Yes, you can thread multiple type on a path objects together, running text from one to the other just like you can with text frames. You can change text alignment by using the alignment buttons on the Paragraph panel (left, right, center, justified, and so on). On the same panel, the left and right paragraph indentation fields are also available, enabling you to build some padding into the beginning or end of the path. Alignment occurs within the total length of the path less any indentations you’ve set. There’s another way to control the indentation of type on a path, which, conveniently, is similar to the way you alter the center point and flip type from the top to the bottom of the path and vice versa.

Type on a path objects have three special indicators
---the start point,
---the center point,
---the end point indicators.
With the black arrow Selection tool, select the type on a path object and position the cursor over any of the three indicators. When you’re close enough, the cursor will change to the one in Figure.
Once you see that, click and drag the indicator. Dragging the start or end point indicators inward will create padding on that end, enabling the path to continue but limiting the text to the position of the indicator. The center point indicator can go either way and will alter the horizontal center of the line of text. It can also flip text from one side of the path to the other—just drag the center point indicator across the path and the text will follow. Note that the text changes direction as well; if you just want to push the text below the path without changing direction, use the Align and To Path fields in Type on a Path Options. See Figure.
The path remains completely editable at all times, incidentally. Just grab the Direct Selection or any other path editing tool and change the path shape; the text will reflow to follow. If you’ve changed your mind and want to remove type from the path, that’s easy. To keep the type, select it with the Type or Type on a Path tool and cut; paste the text elsewhere. If you’d also (or instead) like to preserve the path without text, select the type on a path object and choose
Type >Type on a Path >Delete Type from Path.

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