InDesign FX: How to create vertically oriented text in Adobe InDesign

Published by | Thursday, January 31st, 2013

In this week’s InDesign FX video, I show you how to create vertically oriented text in Adobe InDesign.

Example of vertical text similar to the text effect in The Matrix movie

Normally, InDesign doesn’t allow you to set text vertically inside of a text frame. You could fake it by inserting line breaks after each letter, but that’s pretty tedious and it breaks up the words.

Example of trying to fake the vertical text by using line breaks

But if you place your text on a path, you can set vertical text quickly and preserve it as actual words. The key is to use the Type on a Path option called Stair Step.

The Stair Step option keeps each letter oriented vertically at its position along the path. If you use Stair Step with a straight diagonal path, you get text that looks like it could be walking up or down stairs.

Example of stair step text

If you use it with a curved path, you can create some interesting effects where text slides and swirls around the page, but remains very readable because the letter shapes don’t rotate with the path.

Example of text on a curved path

Another example of text on a curved path

And, as I show in this week’s video, to create perfectly vertical text, you only need to use a perfectly vertical line.

Final example of vertical text in InDesign

I also have a member-exclusive video in the library this week called Achieving a developing Polaroid effect. It shows how to add some old-school fun to an image by adding a Polaroid-like border and then animating the image so it slowly becomes visible.

Achieving a developing Polaroid effect

See you here again in two weeks with another InDesign effect!

Interested in more?
• Start a free trial membership at
• The entire InDesign FX biweekly series
• Courses by Mike Rankin on
• All InDesign courses on

Suggested courses to watch next:
InDesign Secrets
InDesign CS6 Essential Training
• InDesign CS6 New Features

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