Thinking back to when I first learned PSE, the text tool was one of the least intuitive things for me to master.  So here a beginner’s guide to using it, now that I have a clue about what I’m doing.

The text tool is the one with the big letter “T” in your Elements toolbox.  Easy enough so far, right?

It’s one of those tools that has tools hiding underneath it.  When you right click on it in Elements 10, this is what you see:

Elements 9 and prior look like this:

One of the big new features in Elements 10 is the additional text tools, if you didn’t notice.

So, what do each of the text tools do?

  • Horizontal Text makes a traditional left to right row of text
  • Vertical Texts makes your letters go up and down
  • The Horizontal Text Mask creates a selection in the shape of letters that you type horizontally.  In the graphic below, I pasted a photo of pumpkins into the text mask.
  • The Vertical Text Mask creates a selection in the shape of letters that you type vertically
  • Text on a Selection:  create a selection and put text around its edges.  See an example of that here.
  • Text on a Shape:  use the Shape Tool to create a shape and border it with text
  • Text on a Custom Path:  Draw something freehand and then add text to its edges.  You don’t want to see anything I draw freehand, I promise.

To add text using the regular or mask tools, select the appropriate tool and click and drag out your text box.  Choose the font type, size, color and other settings.  Click inside the box so that you can see the text insertion cursor.  And start typing.  If you want to make changes to the text settings after you’ve typed, select part or all of the text and then change the settings for the selected text.

Click the green check box to commit the changes.  You have probably noticed that Elements will beep rudely at you until you do this.

After clicking the green button to commit, you can move the text box by using the Move Tool.  If you want to go back in and edit the text, select the Text Tool, make sure the appropriate text layer is active for editing, and click inside your text box to activate it for editing.

Have you ever noticed that the regular text tools can be persnickety?  You can type away and not see a thing appear in your text box.  This is usually caused by either the size or the color of the text.  To fix it, select all the text by typing control or command A.  Then, use the Text Options to change the size to something much larger or much smaller.

The relative size of any font will change according to the resolution of your image.  So, a font size that works for one file might look much bigger or smaller on another.  Also, make sure the color is not the same color as the background of the file you are working on.

When using the Mask tools, add a new layer before you paste something into the mask.  Elements doesn’t do this for you.  Also, you can’t change the font size after the fact on this one.  You just need to start over.

Using the “Text On” tools is a two step process.  Select the one you want, make your selection, shape or drawing, then commit the changes using the green check mark.  Immediately put your cursor on the marching ants where you want your text to start, click, and start typing.  Your text will generally flow counterclockwise.

Your assignment for the week?  See what you can come up with using the Mask Tools or, for those of you with PSE 10, the Text On tools.  So many of you are way more creative than I am and I’d love to see other ideas for what you can do with these tools.  Would you please post them on Facebook and tag them with @Texas Chicks Blogs and Pics?  Thank you so much!