By Tommi West
Tommi West
16 January 2012


Prerequisite knowledge

Previous experience working with Flash Professional is recommended. Refer to Avoiding common authoring mistakes to find links to other articles in this series.

User level


Required products

This article can help you avoid common issues that may occur when adding text elements to your Adobe Flash Professional projects. As you develop your applications, create a mental checklist to ensure that you are choosing the right text field types and rendering options, and embedding the characters needed to display text well on the Stage.

Forgetting to embed nonstandard fonts for text content

In addition to using device fonts that come pre-installed in all computers, you can also use more unique fonts that are installed on your machine but are likely not to exist on the computers of users who view your Flash project.
Flash Professional CS5 (and later) automatically embeds any characters used by text fields on the Stage. However, if you are using Dynamic or Input text fields, the project may also need to include characters for the font that aren't specifically contained in instances on the Stage during authoring. If you do not embed the necessary characters and text elements are programmatically displayed or entered by the user, the characters may be missing and the application may appear broken.
Always err on the side of embedding too many, rather than not including, the necessary characters (including numbers and symbols) of a font, but remember that the process of embedding fonts increases the size of the published SWF file.
For more information, read Embedding fonts in the Adobe Developer Connection and Embed fonts for consistent text appearance in the Flash Professional online documentation.

Choosing the wrong type of text field for the desired behavior

Before setting the text field type in the Property inspector, always take a moment to consider the type of text field that is required in a particular situation. Choose TLF text if you need to display non-Western character sets or programmatically control the display of different languages for a multilanguage project; otherwise choose Classic text.
If you are simply displaying text on the Stage, you can choose Classic text and then use the Static text option (see Figure 1). If you plan on displaying the contents of the text field programmatically, choose Dynamic text. If you want the user to type into the field to enter text at runtime, select Input text. It confuses users if they discover that they can type in fields that are only designed to display text content. Flash requires extra system resources to display the Input and Dynamic text fields, so only choose these options (as well as enabling the Selectable setting) when needed.
Figure 1. Use the Property inspector to set the type of text field.

Using the anti-aliasing option: Anti-alias for animation

Whenever possible, avoid choosing the Anti-alias for animation rendering option. This setting creates jagged text for the purpose of making the text easier to tween. In most cases, using the option Anti-alias for readability is best (see Figure 2).
Figure 2. Choose the rendering option Anti-alias for readability in the Property inspector.
If you have to animate text elements, consider breaking apart the text characters to make them behave like shapes. The text is no longer editable once it has been broken apart, but the shapes will animate smoothly and look crisper than animated text.

Disable the Selectable option for text fields

By default, the Selectable option is enabled for text fields. However, unless you need to allow users to select and copy text in the field, you can usually disable this setting. Selectable text requires more system resources than displaying static text content.
To disable the setting, select the desired text field. In the Property inspector, use the menu to change the setting from Selectable to Read Only (see Figure 3).
Figure 3. Use the menu in the Property inspector to set text fields to read only.

Avoid using images for text content

Whenever possible, use text fields to display text in Flash, rather than importing an image file to display the text. Image content, such as bitmap graphics and vector artwork, causes a project's file size to increase, whereas adding text fields and styling the text adds a very minimal size. Additionally, text fields in Flash are much easier to work with, because you can edit the text as needed without returning to an image-editing program to edit and re-export the image file. Text fields are flexible because you can change the font family, font size, font style, and font color as you are authoring the project. You can also switch the orientation of TLF text or Classic static text fields to vertical as well as horizontal.

Be sure you don't need to edit text before breaking apart text fields

Once a text field has been broken apart, it first separates into individual characters. Then, if you break it apart again, the individual characters become shapes. The text is no longer actual characters, and therefore it cannot be edited as you can edit a normal text field.
Take the time to ensure all spelling is correct before breaking apart text fields to animate or stylize the characters. Although it is possible to choose Edit > Undo repeatedly or delete the shapes of a text field that has been broken apart, it is time-consuming. It is optimal to triple-check the text entered into a text field to ensure that you don't have any typographical errors before breaking the text field apart.

Where to go from here

The most important aspect when displaying text content is to ensure that it is legible. Beyond that, it is a matter of editing your content to be succinct and clear. Finally, add character to your projects by choosing fonts and formatting styles that match the rest of the project's design.
Read the following article and sections of the Flash Professional online documentation to get more details about working with text:
Refer to Avoiding common authoring mistakes to find links to other articles in this series.