Take the 2-minute tour ×
Graphic Design Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for professional graphic designers and non-designers trying to do their own graphic design. It's 100% free, no registration required.

This question is based on the comments on this answer to another question.

What is the technical difference between text that is "wrapped around" a shape as opposed to text that is "constrained by" a shape?

Is this just 2 different ways to describe the same thing or are they opposing methods to conquer a similar obstacle?

share|improve this question
add comment

2 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

The difference is really seen in line breaks, capabilities, and edit ability.

Text wraps are self aware. They see the object being wrapped and adjust when that object changes. Increase the dimensions of a wrapped object and the text reflows to work around new dimensions. Most apps also provide a method to adjust the offset of wrapped text. So you can easily control the distance text leaves around the wrapped object.

Text Constrains are dumb. They see nothing but their own container. And, even then, only the outer aspects of their own container. Often this is not an issue if you are constraining text to some odd outer edge. However, you can't constrain text around an entire object. A text constraint doesn't see any "holes" or "counters" in the constraining shape.

A quick example.... Photoshop CS5 constrained text. 12pt Times New Roman. The red line indicates the constrained shape (a shape layer).

Text Constraint

Note how, in the bottom image, although the original shape has a counter in it, the text completely ignores that hole and simply flows right over it.

Now a text wrap in Indesign. 12pt Times New Roman. The blue line indicates the text box. And I've set the wrap offset to 0.2pt to mimic Photoshop's constraint distance.

Text Wrap

The obvious difference is the complete wrap in the lower image. You simply can't do that with text constraints and a single constrain shape. It would require two shapes and you would not be able to span text across both shapes. Granted, this particular example is an extreme. It's rare you'd want to have text flow from one side of an object to the other. But there are instances where you may want to wrap an odd shape - such as an arm or something thin which would not disrupt the readability if text were to flow on either side of the object. With a constraint you would have to resort to chopping text and copy/pasting sections of text in each constrain shape accordingly.

Now if I overlay the wrap on the constraint.....

Both

You'll see that visually the top image looks pretty similar. For this reason if you need to fake a text wrap via a text constraint, you may be able to use the constraint if you are able to draw a shape which only alters an outside edge. However, should you need to prevent text flowing over an internal item, and occasionally some odd shapes at the edges, the text constrain will fail in many instances.

In addition to all this there's ease of editing. A text wrap can generally be adjusted with 3-5 mouse click or key inputs. A text constraint requires the user to manually move anchors, paths, and handles to change the shape of the constraint.

In the end.. Can you fake a text wrap with text contraints? Yes. Absolutely in some cases.

Are text wraps and text constraints the same? Absolutely not.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Text wrap, strictly speaking, is "controlled" by the object being wrapped around. In Illustrator or InDesign text wrap is a property of an object, such as an image, that is honored by text objects when they hit its wrap border. If you move the image or the text object, the text automatically adjusts, under the control of the wrapped object.

Constrained text is what the name implies. You create a shape and fill it with text, which is constrained by the shape it's in. The edges of the containing shape control how the text flows.

It's possible to have constrained text (in a circle, let's say) that is also affected by text wrap from an overlapping image.

At a gross level, there is no visible difference between text that "wraps" around an object in Photoshop because it is constrained by a shape, and actual text wrap done in Illustrator or InDesign. The experience in the authoring tool is entirely different, however.

As an aside, one web authoring tool that offers text wrap in its WYSIWYG editor is Xara. Adobe's Muse beta has the same capability, although it is implemented rather better than Xara's, which uses absolutely positioned spans (I kid you not) for every line of wrapped text.

share|improve this answer
    
"Absolutely positioned spans"? Does it also provide elves to run to every browser which opens the page to hold up the words so they fall in the correct spot each time? –  Lauren Ipsum Feb 24 '12 at 11:06
    
They tell me that kerning and leading elves will be supported in HTML5. –  lawndartcatcher Feb 24 '12 at 18:30
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.