Premiere Pro CC 2015: Make Your Text Look GREAT!

logo_Premiere_CC.jpgTitles and text set an emotional tone for your project as much or more than your visuals. However, working with text in video is not the same as text on the web or in print. Video has much less resolution and is often viewed at smaller than actual size.

Working at Bitstream, a Boston type-foundry in the 1980’s, taught me my love of type. Since then, I’ve written about type a lot; for example, these three articles:


A few years ago, I wrote my ten rules for text in video:

  1. Readability is everything. If the audience can’t read the text, you’ve picked the wrong font.
  2. Always add a drop shadow to text you want the audience read.
  3. Hold text on screen long enough for you to read it twice. (If you are using really fanciful fonts, hold them on screen even longer.)
  4. Given the same amount of screen time, horizontal text is more readable than text at an angle or vertical.
  5. Don’t make your text too small. In general, for HD fonts, avoid point sizes smaller than 20 points. For SD video, avoid point sizes smaller than 24 points. Slightly larger is better.
  6. Avoid fonts with very thin bars or serifs, unless they are sized very large.
  7. Avoid highly curved fonts, unless they are sized very large.
  8. When creating projects for broadcast or cable, avoid fonts containing highly saturated colors or white levels greater than 100%.
  9. When creating projects for broadcast or cable, keep all text inside Title Safe. When creating projects for the web, keep text inside Action Safe. Even today, not all displays show the entire image.
  10. When creating text you want the audience to read, be sure the text contrasts in shape, texture, color and gray scale from the background.

NOTE: Click here to see examples for each of these ten rules.


The Title Editor in Premiere provides one of the most robust titling interfaces I’ve ever worked with. While you can’t use it to create animated titles, it has features that even exceed Photoshop.

All the standard text controls – font, size, alignment and letter spacing – are in the toolbar at the top. But you already know how those work. Let me showcase a few controls that you may not have played with yet.

By default, as soon as you create a new Title in Premiere (Cmd+T) the Title Editor opens and displays a window containing the timeline frame under the Playhead ready for you to start entering type.

Click and drag the timecode indicator at the top of the window to change the image displayed in the window. (You could also just move the playhead, but how boring is that?)

Premiere doesn’t have a Layers panel, as does Photoshop, allowing you to see all the different elements in your title. However, using keyboard shortcuts or menu choices, you can easily move between elements in different layers. You’ll find these options in Title > Select.

The blue rounded rectangle shown above is one of eight shapes that we can draw directly. Click the shape you want to draw – in this case a triangle – and drag the cursor to create it. The shape automatically inherits all the settings you applied to the last selected object.

There are 11 different shapes that you can draw. To change them, click the Graphic Type menu under Properties on the right side of the Title Editor window.

NOTE: To delete an object, select it and press the big Delete key.

I continue to be VERY impressed with the number of formatting settings we can apply to any selected object – text, shape, path or graphic – in the Title editor; literally dozens!

I STRONGLY recommend that you add drop shadows to all text that you want the audience to read. My standard settings are:

Another feature that I find very useful are the Title Styles at the bottom of the Title Editor. (To see more styles, either enlarge the window or drag the horizontal dividing line up between the image of the title and the Title Styles palette.)

To apply a Style, select the text to which you want to apply the Style, then click the name of the Style from the Title Styles palette.

The selected text is instantly reformatted.

NOTE: If you don’t like the change, immediately Undo it. If you want to reset the text later, select it and click the style in the top left corner. This changes the font to Adobe Caslon and turns off all special settings. While Caslon is not a particularly good choice for video text, the ability to quickly reset all settings to a default is very handy.


The Actions menu on the lower left edge of the Title Editor, allows us to quickly align, center or evenly distribute all selected elements in a title. Press the Shift key to select multiple elements in the same title.

Another feature that I like a lot is the ability to create copies and templates from an existing title.

If you need to make multiple versions of the same title – say a variety of lower-thirds for the same project – click the New Title based on Current Title button in the top left corner of the Title window. This works great for creating multiple titles in the same project.

For titles that you want to use across multiple projects, create a template. To create a template:

The template appears in the User Templates list ready to reuse in any future Premiere project.


Premiere allows us to easily create multi-layer titles with graphics, shapes, paths and other elements. The formatting controls are extensive and the ability to create copies and templates makes this a powerful tool.

The only limitation is that it can’t create animated titles. However, that is what Live Text and the dynamic link to After Effects is for.

If you’ve only been using simple text in your projects, allow yourself a few minutes to play and discover some of the amazing flexibility Premiere’s Title Editor provides.

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2 Responses to Premiere Pro CC 2015: Make Your Text Look GREAT!

  1. Peter Tours says:

    Also if you right click in the type window
    You can import a graphic file and add attributes just like text?

  2. Mark says:

    Great article – thanks!
    Titles are great – but caption formatting is non-existent in Premier Pro CC. I’m not sure why this is so?

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