Wow, that title sounds like a bad talk show. LOL! A text myth is information you hear about when working with words and fonts in the Silhouette Studio software that simply isn’t true. It’s not that the person saying it is trying to mislead you. They just don’t know all the nuances of the software and so pass along inaccurate info. You may even believe some without realizing it. Or have you ever wondered why your text size does not equal the size of your cut out letters? There’s actually a very good reason why that’s the case, but you need to understand it in order to get your finished product the right size.
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In this 6-part series, I’m going to go over 30 different text myths in Silhouette Studio. For each text myth, I’ll tell you why it’s not true and show you what is true. In other words, I’ll make you a text expert and save you lots of frustration.
We’ll start with the first 5 today. These all relate to the sizes of text boxes and letters, which is something that really confuses folks in Silhouette Studio. And I’ll show you it makes a difference when you’re trying to get your projects aligned and level. Understanding these will be an immense help in figuring out your true text size.
Text Myth #1
“The text size = the letter size”
This is hands down the most confusing thing about text size for beginners (and even veterans). If you type a capital letter M, and resize your text box to 1” x 1”, when you cut your letter out it will be smaller than that 1 square inch. You can see here that although my box on my text size is 1″ x 1″, my letter isn’t (my grid lines are at 1″ intervals).
What in the world is happening? Fonts are made so that they take into account things like letters that are taller (like capital vs. lowercase), letters that dip below the line, superscript, spacing between lines, etc. So, a text box itself will have blank space around the letters to leave room for these. What that means is that if you make your box 1” tall, your letters are shorter than that so that there’s room in there for writing something like X2. If you type “a,” there’s room in the box for “A” or “h.” You don’t see that when you use a word processor because you aren’t looking at the box surrounding the letters as part of the text size.
Don’t trust the info from Silhouette America on this
I find the Silhouette User’s Manual and Handbook misleading on this issue (not intentionally — just imprecise). They both state,
Text size will always default to 72 point size… Though (sic) fonts vary as they are programmed by a wide variety of sources, this will generally equate to roughly a one (1) inch height (or 25 mm).
The default font, which is Arial Unicode MS, does not even have a text box height of 1.” Letters you type without changing anything will have a text box height of 1.340”. The capital letters themselves within that default text size are nowhere near that tall, and the lowercase letters that don’t reach up or dip below the line are even shorter. Plus, the height of the text box with a 72 pt font size selected is different for each font. Therefore, don’t rely on 72 pt = 1″ text size height as a precise standard default.
This also affects alignment. When you use the alignment tools, the software will look at the edges of the bounding box, not at the edges of the words.
So how do you figure out the real text size of your letters? Read on, my friend.
Text Myth #2
“Because of Text Myth #1, there’s no way to know the actual size of the letters”
There are actually several ways to figure out the true text size of your words. Make sure to read the warning, because some of these affect your ability to work with the letters as text.
- Use lines as a reference. You can turn on the grid, reveal the cutting mat or use guidelines. Resize the text box — in both height and width — until the letters touch the lines.
- Draw a rectangle that’s the height and/or width you need for your letters and, as with the previous method, resize the text to fit within the rectangle. Just make sure to delete the rectangle before you cut, or set it to No Cut.
- Ungroup your letters or use Convert to Path to get a very precise text size. When you type a word, what you are creating is a set of individual letters that are grouped together. Ungroup will separate them. You can do this even on a single letter. That extra space around the letters is gone and the box for the text size is now right at the edges of the letters. That gives you the real size of each individual letter.
Convert to Path separates the letters themselves from the extra space of the text box, but keeps them together in a group. That gives you the size of an entire word or phrase.
BUT BE WARNED!
When you do any modification like ungrouping or convert to path (or use any modify options) on text, IT CHANGES FROM TEXT TO IMAGE. It’s now a regular shape and not words. What that means is that you can no longer edit the text, change the font or identify the font. Because of that, I recommend before you do anything that will change you text to image you do 1 of 2 things:
–Make a copy of the text box and pull it off to the side.
–Create a sticky note with the name and size of the font and any other alterations you’ve made.
Again, you can use these techniques to align your text with shapes as well.
Text Myth #3
“All capital letters in a block font are equal in height”
This is a tricky one. Letters with curves at the top or bottom typically extend higher and lower than letters with flat tops and bottoms. That means a “C” is taller than an “M” in a block font. Look at this example where I’ve typed those letters and added some guidelines. You can see the difference in the text size.
Why does this matter? Because if you are trying to fit your letters inside a specific area on your project, you need to base your measurements on the curved letters and not the flat ones. And Text Myth #4 gives you another reason you need to understand this.
Text Myth #4
“All letters in a given font sit on the same horizontal line”
This is another tricky one. Because of the principle we learned in the previous myth, curved letters sit lower (and extend higher) than flat letters. Why is it important to know that? Because when you are aligning pieces on your project, you need to use the flats as your reference.
Let me give you an example. Here’s a large project I did for one of the walls in my church. We mixed 3 colors (there’s a navy and a dark gray, although it’s hard to see that in the photo) and a variety of sizes on the text. That means we had multiple pieces to align correctly.
Let’s look at some different challenges I faced. (Yep, I had to teach my husband this principle as he was helping me.)
If I try to put the vinyl word “EVERYTHING” on the wall and I make the “E” the same distance off the floor as the “G,” I won’t be level.
I cut the words “nothing” and “EVERYTHING” from 2 different pieces of vinyl. In order to align them evenly, I can’t base my level line on the “n” and “G.”
Look at the words “Faith” and “alone” at the very end. If I assume the “F” with its flat bottom and the “e” with its curved bottom are sitting on the same horizontal line, and then try to align the bottoms of the words that way, they will be slightly angled instead of level.
Special font features that affect alignment
Now let’s look at some script text. Notice that the capital letters at the beginning of each line dip lower than the lowercase letters. This is a design element of the font itself (it’s called a “bounced” font). It’s easy to see that on the capital “G,” “L” and “S.” But what if I didn’t realize that with the capital “C”? If I tried to use the bottom of the “C” and the bottom of the “h” at the end of the word as my level line, I’d be off kilter.
Some fonts are made in such a way that the bottoms of the letters are obviously not sitting on the same horizontal line. Magnolia Sky is one of those currently popular, handwritten fonts. Here’s my name typed on in that font.
Or how about this one by Lori Whitlock. It’s a block font, but in order to give it a more casual look she varied where she put the bottom of each letter.
That makes it even harder to figure out your level line. Here are a couple of tips:
- Sometimes, it doesn’t matter. That’s the beauty of the handwritten fonts. They look great even when slightly slanted. Because I am MISERABLE at getting things lined up on something like a t-shirt, Magnolia Sky is one of my go-to fonts. You’d have to get a square-up ruler out to notice if it’s slightly off level.
- Try to use the bottoms of like letters. For example, here’s that Magnolia Sky font on a phrase. In the first line I’ve got 3 “e”s and on the second line I have 2. Those are definitely sitting on the same horizontal line, so they work well as my level. Use those letters that are closest to the ends.
- Use the grid or guidelines to gauge which letters are sitting on the same horizontal line. For example, here I can see that the middle dip in my “m” and the bottom of my “e” are on the same level line. That’s my guide.
- If you are mixing fonts, try to use easier fonts to help you align more difficult ones.
- When working with adhesive vinyl, draw level lines on your transfer media to assist you. You can find out more about that in this post.
Text Myth #5
“The only unit of measurement for text is points”
Again, this is a little-known nuance of the software. You can choose a unit of measurement other than points when working with text size.
At the top of the Text Style panel, you’ll see your current font choice and text size. After the arrow for the size, you’ll see “pt,” which stands for “points.” That’s the standard unit of measure for fonts.
If you click on the “pt,” you’ll notice that you can choose “in” instead, which stands for “inches.” That means you can choose your size based on inches rather than points. Just remember: as we discussed in Text Myth #1, that’s a measure for the text box height not the letter height, and it’s only approximate (varies with each font).
HINT: If you prefer to use metric measurements rather than inches, you can change the unit of measurement type in Preferences>General>Unit of Measurement.
Those are the first 5 text myths busted, and they’re some biggies! Next time, we’ll talk about 5 more. Those all have to do with fonts.
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