Adjusting Text Line Spacing and Letter Spacing in GIMP

Create eye grabbing typography quickly and simply

Typography is an important part of design. A major factor in creating impressive typography is the spacing of your text. GIMP makes it simple to adjust both line spacing, or leading, and letter spacing, a.k.a. kerning, to create eye catching effects. You don't need any special fonts or additional tools. Everything is built right in to GIMP's text tool.

Setting Text in GIMP

GIMP is a popular free open-source image-editing application, but its Text Tool isn't designed for working with text in a significant way. This shouldn't come as a surprise because GIMP is designed for editing images. However, some users prefer to work with text in GIMP. If you're one of these users, GIMP's Text Tools offers a reasonable degree of control for working with text in the software.

Working With GIMP Text Tools

  1. Open up GIMP, and create a project to work in, if you don't already have one.

  2. Select the text tool from your toolbox on the left side of the screen. The icon is the letter A. If you'd prefer a hotkey, its the T key on your keyboard.

    A screenshot of GIMP with the Text tool highlighted
  3. Draw out a text box to work in. Make sure you afford yourself enough space.

    GIMP draw text box
  4. Before you start typing, adjust the text size in the floating control box next to your text.

    A screenshot of GIMP with the Text Size option highlighted
  5. Type some text to work with in the text box.

    GIMP with text entered

Adjusting the Line Spacing

GIMP offers options when working with ​the spacing of text that you can use to adjust how text is displayed on the page. The first of these is leading, which is also known as line spacing. Increasing the space between lines of text can improve legibility and have a positive aesthetic benefit. However, in some cases, space constraints mean that you don't have this option and you need to reduce the leading a little to make it fit. If you choose to reduce the leading, don't overdo it. If the lines of text are too close together, they become a solid block that is difficult to read.

  1. With the text tool active, highlight your text.

    GIMP with highlighted text
  2. Locate the number field to adjust the line spacing. It's the left one on the bottom row of the floating control box by default. When you hover over, it'll display Change baseline of selected text.

    A screenshot of GIMP with the Line Spacing command highlighted
  3. Use the up and down arrows to alter the spacing. If you have a value in mind, you can always enter it into the field, and press Enter to automatically jump to it.

    GIMP change line spacing
  4. With the line spacing adjusted, change to a different tool to get a better perspective of how the final product looks.

    GIMP text with line spacing changed

Adjusting the Letter Spacing

GIMP offers another tool that can also be used to adjust how multiple lines of text display. It changes the space between individual letters.

Just as you can adjust line spacing for aesthetic reasons, you can also change the letter spacing to produce more attractive results. Most common letter spacing can be increased to produce a lighter effect and make multiple lines of text appear less compact, although this feature should be used with care. If you increase letter spacing too much, the spaces between words become indistinct and the body text starts to resemble a word search puzzle rather than a block of text.

  1. Highlight the text you want to work with.

    GIMP text highlighted
  2. Locate the letter spacing field in the floating control box. It's the one to the right on the bottom row. Hover over, and you'll see Change kerning of selected text. Kerning is the technical term for letter spacing.

    A screenshot of GIMP with the kerning option highlighted
  3. Use the arrows to change the letter spacing. Like with line spacing, you can type in your desired spacing, and press Enter too.

  4. While you alter the spacing, you an see boxes appear in your highlighting between the letters. Use this feature to help you visualize the space.

    GIMP change letter spacing
  5. When you're done, select a different tool to get a better perspective on your results.

    GIMP text with letter spacing changed
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