How to Intertwine Text in InDesign

By Elizabeth Mott

Intertwined or overlapping type simulates 3D effects.
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Adobe InDesign's tools and commands enable you to create subtle, sophisticated text treatments that feature drop shadows and other effects. With a little work, you can make letters, numbers or punctuation overlap and intertwine the characters so the overlapping parts look as if their intersection influences their fill color. This illusion can enhance the appearance of headlines and other large typographic elements, or dress up a pull quote, sidebar or subhead with an eye-catching effect.

Press "T" to select the Type tool or click on it in the Adobe InDesign toolbox. Click and drag on a document page to draw a text frame.

Type your character combination. Select the characters and press "T" to open the Character panel so you can set their typeface, style and size. For best results, use a bold typeface at a large size and set the tracking value to a large negative number, starting at -100 and increasing it if necessary until your characters overlap. Press "F6" to open the Color panel or "F5" to open the Swatches panel so you can set the color of your text characters.

Press "Shift-Ctrl-O" to convert your text to outlines. This produces a set of vector objects that no longer constitute live type. Whereas the characters in the live type overlap with each successive character in front of the previous one, the converted characters intertwine in the opposite direction.

Press "Shift-Ctrl-G" to ungroup your converted type. Press "V" to switch to the Selection tool so you can click on the first and Shift-click on the second converted character you want to intertwine.

Press "Ctrl-C" to copy the selected converted characters to the clipboard. Press "Alt-Shift-Ctrl-V" to paste a duplicate of your selection exactly on top of the original converted characters.

Open the Pathfinder panel and click on the "Intersect" button in the Pathfinder row. The resulting shape represents all and only the intertwined parts of the characters you selected. Switch to the Color or Swatches panel and change the color of the shape you created from the intersection of the converted characters so the object contrasts with the full shapes.


Before you convert your type to outlines, copy and paste a duplicate of the text frame and set it on the pasteboard as a backup in case you need to start over.

If the intersection of the two characters consists of more than one non-contiguous piece, the result of the Pathfinder operation constitutes a compound object. Press "Alt-Shift-Ctrl-8" or open the "Object" menu's "Paths" submenu and choose "Release Compound Path" to convert the Pathfinder result into separate objects. If you leave them as a compound path, you can't style the pieces with different fill or stroke colors.

For a completely different look, use either the full converted characters or the intersected results of Pathfinder operations as frames in which to place a bitmapped image.

If the type you convert to outlines features an effect such as a drop shadow, the effect also carries through to the converted characters and the Pathfinder-produced intersections. Because these effects can be additive, the intersected area may display a darker shadow than the individual characters cast on each other.


If you attempt this effect with type that's too small or too thin, the result will be difficult to see and therefore will be ineffective.

Information in this article applies to Adobe InDesign CS6 and Adobe InDesign CC. It may differ slightly or significantly with other versions or products.