TextEdit: advanced typography options

I was working recently on a text that my aunt had written to honor my lost grand-father. I wanted to add this text to my web site, and she wanted to make copies for our family. This text being so important to us, it sure deserved to look great. Using new features in TextEdit, I managed to make it appear really nicely.

I’ll go in detail with all those feature I found and showed to my aunt, but start by telling you how simple this was : I just opened the document with TextEdit, and it looked great ! Sure you’ll find plenty of details here, but these are options, with the default options being just perfect !


First, TextEdit in Panther can open Microsoft Word documents. This might be limited to simple documents, but it works. My aunt wrote the text with Word for Mac, but I decided to open it with TextEdit. You might think that I should have get the exact same document that Word presented, but TextEdit offers more advanced features, you can notice immediately :

This is how the text looked like in Word.

This is how it looks in TextEdit.

Basically, the font is the same, and I changed nothing so why is it different? Well, first Mac OS X native applications (called Cocoa) show text with ligatures: that links ‘t’ and other characters with the following character in a subtule but elegant manner. That was even before Panther. Then, the font used in this document (Apple Chancery) contains several style which are somehow “hidden”. With TextEdit, one can vary these styles and make the text appear in a prettier way right after opening the document. By using those advanced features one can obtain very precisely what he wishes.

Simple Design Level :

Elegant Design Level :

Flourished Set A :

Flourishes Set B :

But that’s not all! After choosing style one can set Smart Swashes (like “intelligent” pen movements) at the beginning and the end of the word, the beginning and the end of the line and/or the in the middle of the lines! Here what that gives with the elegant style if I add this option to the beginning and the end of the lines (notice : P on the first line; C and T on the second; N on the last) :

If one adds this option to the middle of the lines, Q are modified in this paragraph :

Still not the end ! For each letter

one can choose between several style among those which you saw here, and even other styles ! Thus, one can put the L straight (as in the simple style) and add legs to Q if it is wished!!!That gives this for the last paragraph:

Notice that once the characters are arranged to your taste, they should appear the same on all computer if you output your document to PDF (using the Print command). The features I presented here are different from one font to another. Apple Chancery is one of my favorite font, but you can try the same with other fonts as well. The panel to play with typographic features looks like this :

You make it appear using the Font panel, using Typography… under the “action” menu (the one on the right of the + and - signs). Enjoy !

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89 Responses to “TextEdit: advanced typography options”

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    […] spell checking, automatic word completion (Option-Excape or F5), text edition with Fonts, Colors, Typography and special Characters palettes, the possibility to copy and past text style (Command-Option-C and […]

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