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The shortcut key for the type tool is T. In Photoshop 5, you'll notice a small arrow on the type tool button in the toolbox. As you know, this means there are additional tools hidden under the type tool.
The default type tool button allows you to create a new type layer. The second button allows you to create a type mask. The third button is for a vertical type layer, and the fourth is for a vertical type mask. You can toggle the four type tools by pressing Shift-T to cycle through them.
To create an ordinary type layer, you would select the type tool, then click once in your document to invoke the Type tool dialog box. Before you click in your document, take a moment to look at the I-beam cursor that appears when you move you mouse into the document area: Notice the small horizontal line that intersects the I-beam. This line indicates the baseline of the type. It is useful for when you need to align the baseline of your type with another object in your document, or for aligning type to a guideline.
Now click in your document and we'll take a look at the Type Tool dialog box.
This dialog contains all the options available for formatting your type. A preview of your type appears in the bottom portion of the dialog box. The dialog box can be resized by dragging on the edges. At the bottom of the dialog box, you have a checkbox for Fit in Window. This causes the text in the dialog box to scale so all the text fits in the dialog box preview. When this option is checked, the magnification controls to the left are disabled. If you have more text than what will fit in the preview area, and you want to view it at actual size, you will have to uncheck the fit to window box and set the magnification to 100%. Then you can use the scroll bars to view the text that falls outside the preview area. When the Preview box is checked, you will also be able to preview your text in the document window simultaneously.
The menus at the top of the dialog box allow you to choose the font and style. If you're not sure what font you want to use, you can highlight the text in the preview area, activate the font menu, and use the arrow keys to browse all your available fonts. The styles available will be dependent on the font selected. In my example, the font selected was Courier, and I have applied a different style to each word. You can change the formatting of individual words by dragging over them in the preview area to select them, then changing options. The color option, however, will be applied to the entire text layer and cannot be edited on an individual character basis.
In the next section of the dialog box, you have options for the size, color, alignment, kerning, leading, tracking and baseline. You set the size of the type by entering a number in the box. The default units are set to points, but you can change this to pixels using the drop-down menu. To change the type color, click on the color swatch and choose a new color from the color picker, or you can pick a color from your document by moving the cursor outside of the color picker window while it is open. The three buttons below the cancel button let you create left, centered, or right aligned text. The rotate checkbox is only available for vertical text. The baseline field lets you move individual letters above or below the baseline. A positive number moves the characters above the baseline, and a negative number moves characters below the baseline. Kerning, Leading and Tracking can be explored on your own with the help of the User Guide, online help, or these resources from About's Desktop Publishing site.
Last of all, there's the anti-aliasing options which we have already discussed, and a checkbox for Fractional Widths (Photoshop 5.5 only). Factional Widths is enabled by default. This option varies the spacing between characters to make it more readable. In some instancessuch as for small type to be displayed on-screenyou may get better results by disabling this option.