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I find myself having to do this kind of thing fairly often:

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ie have a line of smaller text underneath a bigger one, matching widths.

I usually do this by placing the smaller text directly over the larger, then scaling visually (the text bounding box is often bigger than the actual font pixels themselves), then positioning the smaller text. This can be a slow process when you're doing it a lot - is there a quick way to do it? If not in Illustrator, in InDesign?

  • there is no quick way-not only the font size but also the spacing may vary. I believe a try-n-error approach is inevitable. – Troy Woo Jan 21 '15 at 17:29
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This can be done in a very exact way using the Transform panel:

  1. Open the Transform panel (Window > Transform or Shift+F8);
  2. Lay out your two lines of text in the same font size and ensure that they align at their left side;
  3. Select the top line and read out its width (W) in the Transform Panel. Copy that value or write it down;
  4. Select the bottom line;
  5. Mark the top left corner as the reference point by clicking it in the nine-point diagram in the Transform panel;
  6. Ensure that Width and Height are being kept proportional: the chain icon to the right of those values should be unbroken. If it's broken, click it to fix that;
  7. Enter or paste the Width value you copied earlier into the Width field and press Enter / Return.

That should work, and similarly in InDesign (where the necessary Transform functions are available in the Option bar when you use the Black Arrow tool). However, since it does not account for small varieties in letterforms and tracking, I usually end up not using this method at all. Rather, I'd just draw two vertical guides along the big text, and then resize the small text by eye.

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