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More typefaces are available today than ever before. But sometimes you want your words to look like no one else's. When a headline or logo has to make a unique statement, but you don't have the budget to commission a font, you can customize existing type.

Type customization has long been possible in vector-drawing programs such as Adobe Illustrator and Macromedia FreeHand, though with these programs, you have to export the results as an EPS file for placement in a page-layout program. But you can tweak type directly in QuarkXPress 4.1 (800/676-4575, ) - all you need is the Text To Box command and a willingness to experiment.

You can easily add borders; change a letter's color, position, or shape; and fill letters or entire words with images or text. These techniques don't work on styled text, so if you want all caps, for example, you'll have to create them manually by holding down the shift key as you type instead of relying on font styling.

Before you try any of these tips, begin by typing the word or words you want to modify in a text box. Select up to one line of text with the Content tool, and then go to the Style menu and select Text To Box. A duplicate of your selected text, made up of Bézier lines and without color, will appear below the original. Click on it, and you can start customizing your text.

TERRI STONE is the senior editor of Macworld 's How-to section.

AMY CONGER is a Macworld design associate.

1. Outline and Color All Letters   Once you've converted your type, you can outline and color it as you would any QuarkXPress box. You can easily control the weight and style of the outlining stroke you use.

With the duplicate text selected, go to the Item menu and select Modify (or press command-M). In the resulting dialog box, choose an appropriate box color and shade. Click on the Frame tab, and pick a line width, style, color, and shade A.

By playing with these variables, as well as with the Blend feature available in the Colors palette, you can create many different effects B.

You can easily create a shadow effect by duplicating a word (command-option-D). In the resulting dialog box, give it only a small offset C, and then change its color D.


2. Style Letters   To further customize your type, you can change the color and position of individual letters in subtle or dramatic ways.

To separate letters so you can treat them differently, go to the Item menu and select Split: Outside Paths. Now you have many ways to manipulate the type.

For example, you can create a rainbow effect by giving each letter a different color A. Just select the letter and click on the appropriate shade in the Colors palette.

Or select part of a letter, such as the dot of an i, and give it another color B.

You can also rotate individual letters or parts of letters C without affecting the rest of a word, by selecting the letter or its component and entering any value from 0 to 360 degrees in the Measurements palette.

Once you've finished altering individual letters, select all the letters and choose Group from the Item menu so you won't accidentally lose the look you labored to achieve.

3. Break Apart All Paths   Breaking apart all paths in a letter may not make much sense - until you see what you can do with ornamental typefaces. The results resemble fine art more than they do fonts.

Find a dingbat or ornament you like in a picture font such as Zapf Dingbats. (This example uses the c and p in Pre-Columbian Ornaments One A, a shareware font available on several Web sites.) Apply the Text To Box command.

Select the box with the Item tool, and then go to Item: Split: All Paths.

Apply a fill color, and you'll see all counters (the white spaces inside letters) fill in B. Because you have many individual paths, not a compound path, each letter has the same fill color.

Now the fun starts. Using either the Item or Content tool, click on any path in the letter and style it as you did in the first tip. This is a great way to achieve a colorful effect C. To make a piece "knock out," color it white.

Once you're satisfied with a character's appearance, lock it by selecting all points and choosing Group from the Item menu.

To make the separate paths behave as a compound path again, select them and go to Item: Merge: Combine.

4. Reshape Letters   You may need to go beyond the original letterforms to make your type stand out. Reshaping letters will give yours a look no one else has.

Choose the box, go to the Item menu, and make sure the Shape option in the Edit submenu is selected.

Now click and drag on any point or segment in any letter to push and pull the existing Bézier curves as far as you dare.

You can also convert points and line segments from curved, or smooth, points to straight, or corner, points and vice versa A. To do so, click on a point or segment and go to Item: Point/Segment Type.

If you can't get the effect you want using the existing points, you can add or delete points. Add points by option-clicking on a line segment B. Delete points by option-clicking on existing points. Then push, pull, and convert those points until you get the shape you want C.

5. Fill with Picture or Text   A picture is worth a thousand words, especially when a picture is a word. You can fill any combination of letters with an image or with text.

The Text To Box command automatically creates a picture box, so it's easy to fill an entire headline with an image. Go to File: Get Picture, or press command-E A.

To fill individual letters with different images, go to Item: Split: Outside Paths, and then select a letter. Press command-E to place the picture you want inside the highlighted letter B.

To convert your letter or word to a text box, select it, go to Item: Content, and then select Text. Now you can import text (File: Get Text, or command-E) or type directly in the letter or word C. It may take some experimentation to get an effect that looks good and reads well. Try changing the text inset and column settings until the text flows in a readable manner.

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