Flowed text in Keynote

Sunday, January 7, 2007

Here’s the situation: You have a slide with text that has a curved graphic on the right. You’ve designed the slide so that it’s mostly text and have carefully placed line breaks on each line such that the text follows the flow of the curve. However, during the course of making minor updates to the text, you need to move the location of your line breaks. After a few text changes, you’re probably wishing that you could set the curved area as out-of-bounds to the text so that you could change your text willy nilly and it would flow itself. While this is simple in Pages, Keynote wasn’t designed with any functions for flowing text. Luckily, by using the shape editing features, you can create the appearance of text flowing with just few simple steps.

For this tutorial, you’re going to create some simple shapes just to show how the effect works. flow-1.jpgFirst, create two rectangular shapes, a tall one on the left and a short one to the right.

Select the tall one, choose Format -> Shape -> Make Editable then hold down the Option key and click to add two more points on the right side of the tall shape (space them roughly as far apart as the height of the short shape). flow-2.jpg

Click on the higher point and move it to the left approximately to the vertical center of the tall shape. Then, click the lower point and move it to the left as well. It should snap so that it’s lined up vertically with the higher point. Now, you’ve got a tall rectangle with two diagonal lines angling inward. flow-3.jpgHold down Option again and create a new point on the upper and lower diagonals. For the upper point, move it down and to the right until it snaps into place with the right edge and the upper inset point. Do the same with the point you created on the lower diagonal… move it up and to the right until it snaps into place.flow-4.jpg

By the way, If any of these points were created as curves instead of corners, double-click them to convert them to corners (may take two double-clicks).

Now, change the stroke and fill of your tall rectangle to None. (The interface will still show a thin outline around any shape that has it’s fill and stroke set to none so that you won’t lose it!) flow-5.jpgDouble-clicking on the shape should allow you to enter text. As you enter the text, you’ll see that it follows the flow of the shape it’s entered into. Since there’s no outline, it will look like it’s flowing around a shape. Take the short shape you created earlier and move it into the cut-out area that you’ve made. See how it appears that the text is flowing around the shape? This will allow another degree of creativity when dealing with slides that consist of text passages. Try it out with other shapes and curves for even more dramatic results!

I go through the steps outlined above in this presentation.