[Tutorial] Placing text along a curved path (Draw/Impress)

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[Tutorial] Placing text along a curved path (Draw/Impress)

Postby acknak » Fri Jan 02, 2009 11:10 pm

Placing text on a curve in Draw or Impress

This feature is supported by two different methods: one is easy to use but not very flexible, the other is flexible but more difficult to use.

Easy but limited: The Fontwork Gallery
This is the standard, supported, recommended way to create "shaped" text and other graphic text effects. See the
Fontwork Gallery section of the Draw Guide for details on how to use it.

The Fontwork Gallery only supports shaped text; it does not allow you to place text on any arbitrary curved line. For that, you have to use the more flexible method, described below.

Flexible but fiddly: The Fontwork dialog
This is the older method for setting and formatting text along an arbitrary curved line. The Fontwork dialog was removed from the normal menus and toolbars with OOo 2.0, so if you need to use it, you first need a way to open the dialog. The Fontwork dialog is no longer officially supported and it may be removed entirely at some point, but hopefully not until something better is available to replace it.

For general instructions in customizing your menus or toolbars, see Customizing OpenOffice.org in the Getting Started Guide.

The interface item you need to add is named “Fontwork” under the “Format” category, and its icon is a blue letter “A”. In the standard "Galaxy" icon set, the A is on a curve (see inset below); in other icons sets, it is a plain letter. You can add it as a new menu entry, or as a new toolbar item, or both. The sample document attached below contains a customized Drawing toolbar that includes the Fontwork dialog button.

The Fontwork dialog is a non-modal, context sensitive dialog: once you open it, it stays open, and it will toggle between inactive and active depending on whether the currently selected object supports curved text. The dialog window looks like this (click to view full-size):

Creating a curved-text object
Once you have a way to open the Fontwork dialog (not the Fontwork Gallery!), you can create text on a curve by:
  1. Create the curve. You must use a simple curve or polyline, not a shape.
  2. Add your caption text to the curve as a label: double-click on the curve and enter your text, or press the F2 key to toggle label text editing on/off for the selected curve.
  3. Open the Fontwork dialog and configure the settings for the curved text, as described below.
Configuring the curved-text object
With the text-labeled curve selected, open the Fontwork dialog using your custom menu or toolbar item, and click to select one of the text layout options just below the gallery of standard shapes at the top. The first layout option is “Off” which means normal label text; the second is “Rotate” which is the most common way to place the letters of the text along the curve.

You probably also want to toggle the “Autosize text” option (rightmost in the row below the layout options). This will scale the text to fill the entire length of the curve.

  • You can't use the Fontwork dialog to place text on any kind of drawing object except a line, polygon or curve. That means you can't place text along a circle or rectangle (simple shapes) or a “smart” shape (e.g. a diamond or triangle). However, you can convert a shape to a polygon or curve, then use the Fontwork dialog to lay the label text along the outline.
  • Even though the Drawing toolbar looks almost identical among the different OOo applications, it is actually a different toolbar in each. If you add the Fontwork dialog button to the Drawing toolbar in Draw, you won't find it on the Drawing toolbar in Writer. You will need to add it again for each application where you want to use it. You can copy/paste curved text among all the applications, but you can't change the object's settings without an active Fontwork dialog.
  • You may notice that OOo does not do a wonderful job of laying out the characters: the spacing may be uneven, or the characters may appear at awkward angles or overlap. Some settings or options are not supported at all in OOo. If you really need beautiful curved text, use a different tool; e.g., Inkscape is another Open Source drawing tool that supports more options and often gives better results with curved text.
Sample Draw document
(23.5 KiB) Downloaded 1950 times
Last edited by acknak on Mon Feb 02, 2009 1:24 am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Fix typos
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