Back to Blog

How to Align Paragraphs in Your After Effects Animation

By Ryan Plummer
After Effects

Animating Paragraph Alignment with Keyframes in After Effects

Unlike in simple word processing software, with After Effects paragraph alignment of text layers is not simple or directly accessible — but it is possible. We'll show you the workaround, using keyframes.

Aligning Your Paragraphs

The first step in aligning your paragraphs using keyframes in After Effects is an easy one: opening the Paragraph panel. Here's how:
  1. Select Window in the After Effects menu
  2. Click Paragraph/Use the keyboard shortcut CMD + 7 (CTRL + 7 in Windows)

Aligning Your Paragraphs with Source Text Property

Next, you can use Source Text Property to align your text, setting keyframes for your preferred alignment over time.
To do so, open a text layer, twirl down for the Text options, and click the stopwatch to set a keyframe.
ParagraphAlignment-Opening and Setting.gif
Now, as you move forward in time, simply change the alignment selection in the Paragraph panel to set additional keyframes.
Paragraph Alignment-Playing.gif
Problem solved, right?
Wrong, if there's any chance you may need to edit the text after you've set your keyframes (for example, when working on a project for a client, who may request changes).
Most of the time, you'll want to be able to edit your text, and that's why we're sharing the following workaround...

Using the Paragraph Alignment Workaround

If you don't want to lock yourself in to your keyframes, as above, follow these steps:
  1. Create a second text layer
  2. Set this second layer as the guide layer by right-clicking the layer name and selecting Guide Layer (So After Effects doesn't render out this layer)
  3. On each layer, twirl down the Text options to reveal the Source Text option
  4. On the original text layer (not the guide layer), hit and hold Option on your keyboard and click the stopwatch
  5. Expression pickwhip from the original layer to the new text layer's source text property
ParagraphAlignment-Pickwhip New Text Layer.gif
With this setup, the paragraph alignment is kept, and the text can be updated.
To edit/change the text, simply type in the guide layer!

More MoGraph Pro Tips

Free Tutorials

Not yet fully confident in keyframing? Learn the ins and outs of setting keyframes in After Effects.

SOM Courses

To truly invest in your motion design career, we highly recommend registering for one of our courses.
They're not easy, and they're not free. They're interactive and intensive, and that's why they're effective. (Many of our alumni have gone on to work for the biggest brands and best studios on earth!)
By enrolling, you'll gain access to our private student community/networking groups; receive personalized, comprehensive critiques from professional artists; and grow faster than you ever thought possible.
Plus, we're entirely online, so wherever you are we're there too!

The Essential Motion Design Dictionary

Not yet ready to fully invest? No problem. Use our Essential Motion Design Dictionary to brush up on all the key terms you'll need to know to excel in the MoGraph industry:

Download The Essential Motion Design Dictionary

Download Now