Format characters

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You can set type attributes before you enter characters or reset them to change the appearance of selected characters in a type layer.

Before you can format individual characters, select them. You can select one character, a range of characters, or all characters in a type layer.


To quickly get up to speed with text-related Photoshop features, see Add words to your picture.

Select characters

  1. Do one of the following to select a type layer:

    • Select the Move tool  and double-click the type layer on the canvas.
    • Select the Horizontal Type tool or the Vertical Type tool . Select the type layer in the Layers panel, or click in the text flow to automatically select a type layer.
  2. Position the insertion point in the text, and do one of the following:
    • Drag to select one or more characters.
    • Click in the text, and then Shift-click to select a range of characters.
    • Choose Select > All to select all the characters in the layer.
    • Double-click a word to select it. Triple-click a line to select it. Quadruple-click a paragraph to select it. Quintuple-click anywhere in the text flow to select all characters in a bounding box.
    • To use the arrow keys to select characters, click in the text, and then hold down Shift and press the Right Arrow or Left Arrow key. To use the keys to select words, hold down Shift+Ctrl (Windows) or Shift+Command (Mac OS) and press the Right Arrow or Left Arrow key.
  3. To select all the characters in a layer without positioning the insertion point in the text flow, select the type layer in the Layers panel, and then double-click the layer’s type icon.

    Selecting and formatting characters in a type layer puts the Type tool into edit mode.

Character panel and dynamic shortcuts overview

The Character panel provides options for formatting characters. Some formatting options are also available from the options bar.

You can display the Character panel by doing one of the following:

  • Choose Window > Character, or click the Character panel tab if the panel is visible but not active.

  • With a type tool selected, click the Panel button  in the options bar.

    To set an option in the Character panel, choose a value from the pop‑up menu on the right side of the option. For options with numeric values, you can also use the up and down arrows to set the value, or you can edit the value directly in the text box. When you edit a value directly, press Enter or Return to apply a value, Shift+Enter or Shift+Return to apply a value and then highlight the value just edited, or Tab to apply a value and move to the next text box in the panel.


Select Show Asian Text Options in the Type preferences for the Set Tsume option to appear in the Character panel.

You can access additional commands and options in the Character panel menu. To use this menu, click the triangle in the upper right corner of the panel.

Dynamic shortcuts are keyboard shortcuts accessible from the Character panel menu only when you are entering point or paragraph type, when type is selected, or when the I‑beam is in text. Dynamic shortcuts are available for type options such as Faux Bold, Faux Italic, All Caps, Small Caps, Superscript, Subscript, Underline, and Strikethrough.

Specify type size and color

The type size determines how large the type appears in the image.

The default unit of measurement for type is points. One PostScript point is equal to 1/72 of an inch in a 72‑ppi image; however, you can switch between using the PostScript and traditional definitions of point size. You can change the default unit of measurement for type in the Units & Rulers area of the Preferences dialog box.

The type you enter is rendered in the current foreground color; however, you can change the color before or after you enter type. When editing existing type layers, you can change the color of individual, selected characters or of all type in a layer.

Choose a type size

  1. In the Character panel or options bar, enter or select a new value for Size  .

    To use an alternate unit of measurement, enter the unit (in, cm, mm, pt, px, or pica) after the value in the Font Size text box.


    To change the unit of measurement for type, choose Edit > Preferences > Units & Rulers (Windows) or Photoshop > Preferences > Units & Rulers (Mac OS), and choose a unit of measurement from the Type menu.

Define the point size unit

  1. Choose Edit > Preferences > Units & Rulers (Windows) or Photoshop > Preferences > Units & Rulers (Mac OS).
  2. For Point/Pica Size, select from the following options:

    PostScript (72 points/inch)

    Sets a unit size compatible for printing to a PostScript device.

    Traditional (72.27 points/inch)

    Uses 72.27 points per inch, as traditionally used in printing.

  3. Click OK.

Change the type color

  1. Do one of the following:
    • Click the Color selection box in the options bar or Character panel, and select a color using the Adobe Color Picker.
    • Use fill shortcuts. To fill with the foreground color, press Alt+Backspace (Windows) or Option+Delete (Mac OS); to fill with the background color, press Ctrl+Backspace (Windows) or Command+Delete (Mac OS).
    • Apply an overlay layer style to the type layer to apply a color, gradient, or pattern on top of the existing color. You can’t apply an overlay layer style selectively; it affects all characters in the type layer.
    • Click the foreground color selection box in the toolbox, and select a color using the Adobe Color Picker. Alternatively, click a color in the Color panel, or the Swatches panel. If you use this method to change the color of an existing type layer, you must first select characters on that layer.

Change the color of individual letters

  1. Select the Horizontal Type tool  .
  2. In the Layers panel, select the layer containing the type.
  3. In the document window, select the characters you want to change.
  4. In the options bar at the top of the work area, click the color swatch.
  5. In the Adobe Color Picker, locate the color range you want using the triangle sliders on the color spectrum bar, and then click the desired color in the color field. The color you select appears in the top half of the color swatch in the Adobe Color Picker. The original color remains in the bottom half.
  6. Click OK. The new color replaces the original color in the options bar and in the selected characters.

    You won’t see the new color in the characters until you deselect them or select something else.

Text treatments in the Character panel

Underline or strike through text

You can place a line under horizontal type, or to the left or right of vertical type. You can also place a line through horizontal or vertical type. The line is always the same color as the type color.

  1. Select the type you want to underline or strike through.
    • To underline horizontal type, click the Underline button  in the Character panel.
    • To apply an underline to the left or right of vertical type, choose Underline Left or Underline Right from the Character panel menu. You can apply an underline to the left or right, but not to both sides. A check mark indicates that an option is selected.

    The Underline Left and Underline Right options appear in the Character panel menu only when a type layer containing vertical type is selected. When working with vertical Asian type, you can add an underline on either side of the type line.

    • To apply a horizontal line through horizontal type or a vertical line through vertical type, click the Strikethrough button  in the Character panel. You can also choose Strikethrough from the Character panel menu.

Apply all caps or small caps

You can enter or format type as uppercase characters, either all caps or small caps. When you format text as small caps, Photoshop automatically uses the small‑cap characters designed as part of the font, if available. If the font does not include small caps, Photoshop generates faux small caps.

  1. Select the type you want to change.
  2. Do one of the following:
    • Click the All Caps button  or the Small Caps button  in the Character panel.
    • Choose All Caps or Small Caps from the Character panel menu. A check mark indicates that the option is selected.

Specify superscript or subscript characters

Superscript and subscript text (also called superior and inferior text) are reduced‑size text that is raised or lowered in relation to a font’s baseline. If the font does not include superscript or subscript characters, Photoshop generates faux superscript or subscript characters.

  1. Select the type you want to change.
  2. Do one of the following:
    • Click the Superscript button  or the Subscript button  in the Character panel.
    • Choose Superscript or Subscript from the Character panel menu. A check mark indicates that the option is selected.

Character styles

A character style includes character formatting attributes, and can be applied to characters, a paragraph, or even a range of paragraphs. You can create Character styles and then apply them later.

Choose Window > Character Styles to open the Character Styles panel. 

  • To apply a character style, select the text or text layer and click a character style.

Type styles are hierarchical: Manual overrides supersede any applied character styles, which in turn replace applied paragraph styles. This hierarchical approach lets you combine the efficiency of styles with the flexibility to customize your designs.

For a video overview, see Paragraph and Character Styles in Photoshop by Julieanne Kost.


Create a character style

  1. If you want to base a new style on the formatting of existing text, select that text.
  2. Choose New Character Style from the Character Styles panel menu.

Note:To create a style without first selecting text, click the Create New Style icon  at the bottom of the Character Styles panel. To edit a style without applying it to text, select an image layer, such as the Background.

Edit a character style

Double-click existing styles to edit them and update all associated text in the current document. Changing the style formatting updates all text to which the style has been applied with the new format. 

To edit a character style, do the following:

  1. Double-click the style in the Character Styles panel.
  2. To specify the formatting attributes, click a category (such as Basic Character Formats) on the left, and specify the attributes to add to the style.
  3. When you’ve finished specifying the formatting attributes, click OK.

Specifying default type styles | Creative Cloud only

Current character and paragraph styles can be saved as type defaults. These defaults are automatically applied to new Photoshop documents and can also be applied to existing documents that don't already contain type styles. For more information, see Paragraph styles.

To save the current character and paragraph styles as the type defaults, do any of the following:

  • Choose Type > Save Default Type Styles.
  • In the Character Styles or the Paragraph Styles panel, choose Save Default Type Styles from the panel menu.

To apply the default Character and Paragraph styles to a document:

  1. Do any of the following:

    • Choose Type > Load Default Type Styles.
    • In the Character Styles or the Paragraph Styles panel, choose Load Default Type Styles from the panel menu.
  2. If you are loading the default type styles into a document that already has an existing type style, the Import Paragraph Styles dialog box appears. You can choose whether or not to replace the existing type style with the default type style.