Friday, September 26, 2014

How to Justify Text in Paint.net

Last week I posted in a general way about how I made my new book covers – this is a technical post about one aspect many of you may not be interested in, but I felt I needed to share what I learned.  For those who may find it helpful.
    Paint.net is a great, easy-to-use graphics program, but it can’t do full justification of text, and I wasn’t satisfied with the solutions I found on the net to get around that.  I find GIMP awkward to use and I wasn’t sure it did a good enough job justifying text.  And taking a screen shot of text justified in Word gives you a blurry, low-resolution image that doesn’t do.  Then I discovered a method that let me do high-quality, nicely justified blocks of text for the back blurbs of my book covers.
    This is an example of what I ended up with – click to enlarge the image.
   
The short version of how I did it is this –
     1) Made my fully justified text in Word.
     2) Printed that text as a high-quality PDF.
     3) Imported that PDF into GIMP.
     4) Exported that PDF as a PNG image.
     5) Opened that PNG image in Paint.net and copied and pasted it where I wanted it to go.

The longer, more detailed explanation is this –
     1) I used the select tool in Paint.net to measure the area I wanted to put some fully justified block of text in.
     2) I created a Word doc with custom paper and margins to suit the size of text graphic I intended to create.  For example, if I meant to make a four-inch by four-inch block of text, I’d use a paper size of five by five with a half-inch margin all around.
     3) I chose the font, indentation, line spacing etc. to create the look of the text I was going for – not forgetting to turn on automatic hyphenation and setting the alignment to full justification.  (Personally, I like to set the advanced options for Word to do full justification the way Word Perfect does it.)
     4) I typed in the text, then played with the font size to get it to fit right in the space I’d made.  (And if you have any flexibility in the space the text can take up, you can also play with the margins to get the justification just the way you want it.)
     5) When I had my block of text just right, I printed it as a high-quality PDF.  (Any way you can set up Word to produce a high-resolution PDF, by saving or printing or exporting, should work.)  Word itself seems to automatically lower the resolution when it saves as a PDF, so you need a program that produces high-quality PDFs – I use doPDF myself.
     6) I imported the PDF in GIMP – and BE CAREFUL, GIMP will want to import it in horribly low resolution, so make sure you change that setting to the resolution you want.  Since I print my PDFs in 300 dpi, that’s how I import them, so that I don’t lose any quality.
     7) I turned right around and exported it as a PNG image.  (Here GIMP defaults to maintaining the resolution when it exports, but it doesn’t hurt to double-check that that box is checked.)
     8) I opened the PNG file in Paint.net, then copied and pasted the text into my main image.  (It retained the white background from Word, so I used the multiply blend mode to make that background transparent, but there are other ways.)
     9) What I ended up with was a nicely justified block of text, right where I wanted it in my picture, with all the crisp, clean resolution I could want for printing my paperback book covers.

If you need to do anything like what I did, I hope this will be helpful.

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