AE fundamentals


Sooner or later (maybe even right now), you'll need to animate text. In this After Effects Fundamentals lesson, you'll learn all about working with text, including how to create, style, and animate it.

Create Text

Click the Text Tool in the toolbar at the top of the screen, click in the Composition Viewer, and start typing. To get out of the Text Tool, go back to the Selection Tool (mouse cursor icon in the top toolbar).

Text Tool

⌘/Ctrl T

Edit Text

Double click on the text to get into editing mode. OR, go back to the Text Tool and then click and edit the text.

Style Text

The Character panel has everything for your text styling needs.

If you don't see this panel, you can find it under the Window menu which is at the very top of the screen.

Character panel

Add a Stroke (Outline) to Text

To add a stroke, use the color picker in the top right of the Character panel to set a color on the box with the hole in the middle. If you want to adjust the stroke weight, adjust the number next to the three lines icon.

Line vs Paragraph Text

Line Text

If you click in the Composition Viewer with the Text Tool and start typing, your text will be on one line. You can use the return/enter key to create line breaks.

Paragraph Text

To create text that automatically resizes based on the size of its text box, click and drag with the Text Tool to draw out a text box, then start typing.

How to make paragraph text

Resize the Text Box

Click the text with the Text Tool. You should see a red box around your text that you can drag to resize. Or, double clicking with the Selection Tool will also bring up the red box for resizing.

Adjust the text alignment in the Paragraph panel.

How to resize paragraph text with text box

Switch from Line and Paragraph Text or Vice Versa

With the Text Tool, right click on your text. From the pop-up menu, choose either Convert to Point Text (line text) or Convert to Paragraph Text.

Simple Text Animation

You can animate text using the same Transform properties that are available on most layers (this includes Position, Rotation, Scale, and Opacity). One simple, yet effective way to animate text in, is to have it move down slightly as it fades in.

A simple way to animate text by moving it down as it fades in

Text Presets & Animators

After Effects has a bunch of presets that you can apply to a text layer to animate it. One simple one that I find helpful, is the Typewriter preset. You can probably guess what it does–animates in one letter at a time. The easiest way to find the Typewriter preset is to search for it in the Effects & Presets panel.

Text presets in the Effects & Presets Panel

You can find other text presets in the Effects & Presets panel under Presets > Text.

If you want to preview these presets before applying them to your text, click the hamburger menu in the top right corner of the Effects & Presets panel. From the pop-up menu choose Browse Presets. This will open Adobe Bridge and then navigate to the Text folder.

Apply a Preset

There are a couple ways to apply a preset:

  • Drag the preset onto your text layer in the Timeline
  • Drag the preset onto your text layer in the Composition Viewer
  • With your text layer selected, double click the preset

Adjust the Timing of a Preset

Most text presets add keyframes to your layer. Hit U on the keyboard to show these keyframes. You can slide the keyframes on your timeline to retime the animation the preset has created.

Get Creative with Text

Its possible to create your own text animations with text animators, and even save them as presets. That's outside the scope of this lesson, but when I create a tutorial on that, I'll link it here.

There are also ways to use shape layer to creatively animate text. For example, you can have text draw in (like it's being hand written).

Check out my classes on text to learn more:

All the keyboard shortcuts you need, in one place:

Up Next

Now that you know how to work with text, it's time to learn about shape layers in the next lesson.