Vertical text is a fantastic technique for giving posters and other layouts a dramatic typographic look. This quick tutorial will show you how to create and format vertical text in InDesign. Try it out for your next design project to really give your layouts the wow factor.
How to Create and Format Vertical Text
I’ve prepared a single-page document in InDesign, set to a standard ‘Architectural D’ poster size, 610 mm (24 in) in Width and 914 mm (36 in) in Height, with a 5 mm Bleed around the edges of the page.I’ve also placed an image of a ballet dancer onto the page, and locked this layer, creating a new layer above from the Layers panel (Window > Layers). When creating your own vertical text effect, you may also want to edit this on its own layer, so you don’t mistakenly move around any other elements sitting below.
Once you have your page and layers prepared, you can get started with creating your vertical text effect.
From the Tools panel select the Line Tool (\) and, holding down Shift, drag your mouse down from top to bottom, creating a vertical line.
Select the Type on a Path Tool (Shift+T), which you can find in the Type Tool’s drop-down menu in the Tools panel.
Click once onto the top of the line to convert the line into a text path. Now you can type in the text you want to appear vertical.
Using the Type Tool (T), you can highlight the text and apply formatting like font, size and color from the Character Formatting Controls panel (running along the top of the workspace) and the Swatches panel (Window > Color > Swatches). The font used here is Charlevoix Pro.
You can also remove the automated black color of the line by selecting the line with the Selection Tool (V, Escape), and choosing [None] from the Swatches panel.
Open the Paragraph panel (Window > Type & Tables > Paragraph), highlight the text with your type cursor and set the alignment to Justify All Lines. This will pull the text across to fill the full length of the line. You can adjust the height of the line by dragging the horizontal lines which appear at the top and bottom of the line when the Selection Tool is active.
To switch the text to a vertical orientation, head up to Type on the top menu and choose Type on a Path > Options.
Under Effect, choose Stair Step. From the Align options choose Center. Click OK to exit the window.
Now your text is aligned vertically you can tweak the formatting to suit your layout.
Here, I’ve adjusted the kerning between certain characters to reveal the dancer’s face on the poster and create a more interesting typographic effect. You can adjust this from the Character panel (Window > Type & Tables > Character).
I’ve also created a faded effect to the text by repeatedly copying and pasting the vertical text line, and reducing the opacity by going to Object > Effects > Transparency.
I also applied a gradient (Object > Effects > Gradient Feather) running at a 0 degrees angle to enhance the fade effect.
Building a complete layout around your vertical text effect can be really fun—try teaming vertical text with rotated type and standard left-to-right text to create contrast and interest. Alternatively, creating a layout solely with vertical text can look amazing, and is a technique that was often employed by the Swiss School, who were interested in the qualities vertical text brought to grid-based layouts.