How to Make Text Adjustments in Inkscape

You can master any text with these five options

Graphic designer at work

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Inkscape, the popular free vector line drawing app, adjusts regular attributes for text such as the font style, size, and color​. It also has five other traits related to spacing. Change the spacing values for letters and words for 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, change the letter or word spacing to give it an elongated effect without enlarging the font size or stretching the text. Use these five spacing options to change the spacing between characters and words, rotate characters on an axis, and shift text up or down.

Instructions in this article apply to Inkscape version 0.92.4 for Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, Mac OS X, and Linux. These instructions may also apply to previous versions of Inkscape.

Change the Spacing Between Each Letter

Adjust the letter spacing to change the amount of empty space between characters. This change affects selected characters or every character in a text box, whether there's one word, a sentence, or an entire paragraph.

Reduce letter spacing to make the text fit into a limited space, or to squeeze letters together to produce a strong visual text effect.

  1. Select the Text Tool.

    Text tool in Inkscape
  2. In the document area, click and drag to draw a text box. Or, click the location you want to place the text box.

  3. Click inside the text box, then enter the text.

    Highlighted text in Inkscape
  4. Select the text to be changed:

    • Select the text box to change the letter spacing for every character in the text box.
    • Selected specific characters in a text box to adjust letter spacing for two or more characters only.
  5. Go to Spacing between letters (the icon with a dash between the letters A and D), then use the Up and Down arrows to increase and decrease the spacing.

    space between letters tool in Inkscape
  6. The spacing between the selected text moves in one-hundredths of a pixel by default.

    Increment letter spacing in Inkscape
  7. To specify a certain spacing distance, select the Spacing between letters value field, then enter the spacing.

    Text with space between the letters

When the spacing between letters is a negative number, a backward effect is created and characters may overlap if the spacing is too large.

Change the Spacing Between Each Word

Adjust the spacing between words to make the text fit in a constrained space. Adjust word spacing for aesthetic reasons with small amounts of text. Making changes to large blocks of text may have an adverse effect on legibility.

  1. Select the Text Tool.

  2. Click and drag to draw a text box or click the document area to place a text box. Then, click inside the text box and enter the text.

  3. Click and drag to highlight the words to adjust. To modify all text in a text box, click inside the text box.

  4. Go to Spacing between words, then use the Up and Down arrows to adjust the spacing.

    Space between words tool in Inkscape
  5. To use a specified spacing, select the Spacing between words value field and enter the distance.

    Space between words tool to 50.00

When the spacing between words is increased or decreased, the first word doesn't change its position. Instead, the first word is used as an anchor for the text that follows. If you need the text to be sprawled out from a particular place, 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 adjusts the spacing between specific pairs of letters and is commonly applied to logos and headlines. Use kerning adjustments to make spaces between letters look visually correct.

  1. Select the Text Tool.

  2. Click where you want the text, then enter the text.

    Text entered in Inkscape
  3. Highlight the letters you want to adjust.

    If the cursor is between two letters, the kerning adjustment moves every letter to the right of the cursor. Highlighting moves selected letters only.

  4. Go to Horizontal kerning (the icon with two As), then use the Up and Down arrows to change the value. Increase the number to move the text to the right. Decrease the number to move the text to the left.

    Horizontal Kerning tool in Inkscape
  5. To specify a kerning space, go the Horizontal kerning value field and enter a value. Negative values push the text left of its starting position.

    Horizontal kernng tool to 20.00 in Inkscape

Shift Characters Vertically

Inkscape can change the vertical position of highlighted characters to create a cascade look where the letters appear to fall up or down the page, or for a unique perspective design.

  1. Select the Text Tool.

  2. Click where you want the text, and enter the text.

  3. Place the cursor to the left of the characters you want to shift vertically. Or, highlight the character to shift specific characters. For example, place the cursor after H in HOUSE to move the OUSE up or down, or highlight H to move that letter.

  4. Go to Vertical kerning (the icon is two letter As with one slightly higher than the other) and use the arrows to move the text up and down.

    Vertical kerning tool in Inkscape
  5. Increase the value to move the text down.

    Text kerned vertically in Inkscape
  6. To shift the text an exact amount, select the Vertical kerning value field and enter an amount.

If you highlight multiple letters that are a different vertical position, the letters shift according to their original places. For example, if the H in HOUSE is five pixels above the O, shifting HO up five pixels will place the H 10 pixels above USE, and the O five pixels above USE.

Change a Character's Degree of Rotation

The Inkscape rotation text tool rotates text up to 180 degrees and can be applied to single characters and whole words.

  1. Select the Text Tool.

  2. Click anywhere on the document and enter the text.

  3. Select the characters to rotate. Place the cursor to the left of a character to rotate the characters to the right. Highlight multiple characters to rotate those characters.

  4. Go to Character rotation (the icon shows a skewed letter A) and use the arrows to alter the rotation.

  5. Higher values rotate the text clockwise. Lower and negative values move the text counterclockwise.

    Character rotation tool in Inkscape
  6. Or, enter the degree of rotation. Rotating beyond a certain point might overlap letters, depending on the valhue of the character spacing.