Aligning Alphas For Your Page Titles

Continuing our foray into alphas and fonts this month, I wanted to have a little chat today on page titles. Coming from a traditional scrapbooking background, I still remember pulling out my sheets of alphas and then my ruler to carefully place every single, individual letter on a nice straight line. It was a time-consuming and somewhat cumbersome process. With my stuck-down traditional alphas, if I had not lined everything up correctly, well, once put down on a layout, there really wasn’t that much of an opportunity to make a correction. Did you know there’s an easy one- or two-click process in digital scrapbooking that will correct this for you? Let’s explore the Align function to take the guesswork out of aligning your scrapbook titles.


The Align options might be hidden from view at first. However, when you click on the Move Tool, they magically appear at the top of your screen. The icons may also be grayed out or inactive, but that’s because we have yet to select some layers to play with. In Photoshop Elements, you will have labels or menu names; in my version of Photoshop CS, they are simply shown as icons. I’ve added some alphas to my page and deliberately mis-aligned them so we can see how each of the tools in this menu might work – and I will tell, not all of them are suitable for my needs.


Aligning text for page titles


By hovering my mouse over each icon, I can see what function each serves – Align Top Edges, Align Vertical Centers, Align Bottom Edges, Align Left Edges, Align Horizontal Centers, and Align Right Edges. If you’re working in Photoshop Elements, the Align drop-down menu will have each of these functions listed (vs. an icon). So let’s see what works with my goal here to line up all of my individual letters.


Because my alpha characters are all approximately the same size, I can use any of the first three options.  The letter “G” is slightly larger in this case, so I’m going to choose the Align Vertical Centers option.  Simply select all of the individual layers to make them active (hold down the Shift key and click on the first and last layer in your group, or hold down the Control key and select the individual layers), and click.


Aligning alphas for page titles


The options that would not have worked in this instance were any of the last three – Align Left Edges, Align Horizontal Centers, and Align Right Edges – as they would have stacked my individual alphas on top of each other. Let me show you what that would look like:


Aligning alphas for page titles


Not what I was going for. Now, don’t discount these functions as they do have a place in your digital toolbox. If you are working with scrapbook page title that is vertical, they’d be perfect!


With my alphas now all nicely lined up, there’s just one thing left to do, and that’s fix the spacing between the letters. Some slight nudging with the move tool and voila!


Aligning alphas for page titles


On a side note, you may have noticed that there is a Distribute menu option right next to Align, and perhaps you thought that might be a way to space out my letters? No, not really. Distribute serves a slightly different function.  If you have multiple, individual lines of text for a heading or page title, the Distribute option can help you evenly space out the text – line for line, not on a character basis. It is similar to the line spacing options that you have in your font or character menu. But you know what? I’ll let you explore that one on your own.


Wrapping up, I did want to say that the Align function does not necessarily work every time – and here’s why. In my example, I’ve used an all-cap alpha, which means all the individual characters are the same size (give or take some minor sizing variations). However, if you are using a combination of upper- and lower-case characters, you may run into a few challenges because letters like “d”, “h”, “g”, etc., have “tails.” For example, if you tried to align all the letters using the top edge, a lower-case “d” would be aligned based on the very top the vertical line in the character.


Limitations aside, the Align function is a great way to take the guesswork out of aligning your scrapbook titles, and it really is as easy as select the layers and click. For me, page titles are some of the most challenging pieces on my layouts … so why not make the process as simple as possible, right?

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