How to Make Text Adjustments in Inkscape

You Can Master Any Text with These Five Options

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Inkscape, the popular free vector line drawing app, lets you adjust not only regular attributes for text like the font style, size, and color​ but also five other traits related to spacing. You can do it all from the text tool's options panel.

Changing the spacing values for letters and words gives you finer control over how words appear on the canvas. For example, if you want a word to stretch across the title area of a poster, you can change the letter or word spacing to give it an elongated effect without enlarging the font size or stretching the text.

The five spacing options let you change the spacing between specific characters and specific words, rotate individual characters on an axis, and shift text up or down away from the rest.

Change the Spacing Between Each Letter

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Adjust the spacing of your letters or words.


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Adjusting the letter spacing changes the amount of empty space between each character of a word. When applied, it affects every single character in the text box, whether there's just one word, a sentence, or an entire paragraph.

Reducing letter spacing is used mostly as a technique for making text fit into a limited space, but there may be occasions when you want to squeeze letters together to produce a strong visual text effect.

  1. Select the text tool
  2. Decide which letters or words should be changed.
    1. If you click in the text box, it'll change the letter spacing for every character. To adjust letter spacing for two or more characters only, highlight those characters.
  3. Adjust the spacing value in the first input field of the text tool's menu.
    1. You can do this by clicking the arrow buttons up or down to increase or decrease letter spacing, or enter a value manually.

Be careful to avoid reducing the letter spacing so much that you enter into negative numbers, or you'll create a backwards effect.

Change the Spacing Between Each Word

Adjusting the spacing between words is another way to tweak text in Inkscape to make it fit into a constrained space. You could adjust word spacing for aesthetic reasons with small amounts of text, but making changes to larger volumes of text will likely have an adverse effect on legibility.

  1. Select the text tool.
  2. Click inside the text box.
  3. Adjust the value in the second input field of the text editing menu.
    1. You can also use the arrow keys to change the value pixel by pixel.
    2. Note: If the text isn't changing, it's most likely because you've highlighted the text, which won't work when changing word spacing. 

When you increase or decrease the spacing between words, the first word doesn't change its position but is instead used as an anchor for the other words. If you need the text to be sprawled out from one particular place, be sure to place the text box exactly where you want the text to start, and it will stay put no matter the word space values.

Change the Horizontal Kerning Value

Horizontal kerning is the process of adjusting the spacing between specific pairs of letters. You can use kerning adjustments to make spaces between letters look more visually "correct," a technique commonly applied to logos and headlines. 

  1. Select the text tool.
  2. Highlight the letters you want to adjust.
    1. If the cursor is put between two letters without highlighting them, the kerning adjustment will move every letter located to the right of the cursor. Highlighting moves those letters only.
  3. Change the value in the second input field of the text editing menu.

For example, consider the word HOUSE. To increase the space between the O and U, select USE and change the kerning value to a greater number. Highlighting just the O or just the U, and adjusting the kerning for those letters, will push them closer to the H and the S, creating a non-uniform look.

Shift Characters Vertically

Inkscape lets you change the vertical position of any highlighted character(s). You might do this if you're after a cascade look where the letters appear to fall up or down the page, or maybe you're going for a unique perspective design.

  1. Select the text tool.
  2. Place the cursor to the left of the character(s) you want to shift vertically.
    1. You can also highlight the character, which is necessary if you're shifting specific characters. In other words, placing the cursor after H in HOUSE will move the OUSE up or down, but highlighting H will move just that letter.
  3. Adjust the fourth input field in the text editing menu. 
    1. A positive value moves the character(s) down, while a negative one shifts everything up.

If you highlight more than one letter, and they're both currently at a different vertical position, they will shift according to their original places. For example, if the H in HOUSE is already five pixels above the O, shifting HO up five pixels will place the H 10 pixels above USE, and the O five pixels above.

Change a Character's Degree of Rotation

The final spacing option in Inkscape's text tool is for rotating. This option maxes out at 180 degrees and can be applied to single characters and whole words.

  1. Select the text tool.
  2. Select which character(s) to rotate.
    1. Placing the cursor to the left will rotate the single character to its right, whereas highlighting rotates just those characters.
  3. Adjust the value in the fifth input field of the text tool's menu.
    1. A negative value rotates counterclockwise, while a positive one pushes the rotation clockwise.

Rotating beyond a certain point might mash the letters together, depending on the value of the character spacing.