The Secret to Creating Circular Text in Photoshop Elements

By Pattie Knox

Wrapping your words around or inside of a design element can pack a powerful punch when used in your digital art journaling.  Unfortunately, while newer versions of Photoshop contain text on a path capability, versions prior to PSCS and all versions of Photoshop Elements are lacking this feature.  There IS a way that you can create text circles if you know about the secret weapon hidden in the Polar Coordinates feature however!


(NOTE: Circular text created with this method will be one-half the size of the canvas you begin working with. For example, if your goal is a 3 inch circle … you’ll want to start out with a 6 inch by 6 inch canvas.)

1. From the File menu, point to New, and select Blank File.

2. Enter the following values:

  • Width: 6 inches
  • Height: 6 inches
  • Resolution: 300 pixels/inch
  • Color Mode: RGB Color
  • Background Contents: Transparent

3. From the View menu, select Grid to activate the grid. This will help you determine the exact vertical center of the canvas … which is where you want to type the line of text.

4. From the Toolbox, select the Text tool. Choose a font and set the font size.

5. Type a line of text that fits snugly against the left and right side of the canvas as shown in the illustration below.

Press CTRL+T (CMD+T) to access the Free Transform tool and stretch the text to meet the edges if necessary.




6. From the Image menu, point to Rotate and select Layer 180. This ensures that the text on the top of the circle will be right-side up when created.

To keep the text from stretching out of shape when formed into a circle we need to adjust the height of the letters.

7. Press CTRL+T (CMD+T) to access the Free Transform tool and look to the Options bar at the top of the screen.




To prevent the width from changing along with the height, uncheck the box next to Constrain Proportions and enter a value of 250% for Height. (Width should stay at 100%)

8. Working in the Layers panel (palette), right click the text layer and choose Simplify Layer from the pop up menu.

This prevents you from editing the contents of the text layer, but is necessary as PSE will not allow you to apply a filter to a text layer otherwise.

9. From the Filter menu, point to Distort and select Polar Coordinates.

10. Check Rectangular to Polar in the dialog box that appears and click OK to commit the change.

Presto! You have a circular element formed from text.




Pattie Knox shares her combined love of digital design and teaching others through her series of online digital classes at Creative Passion Classes.  She also designs digital products for Designer Digitals  and is a member of the Wacom Penscrappers Team.   To learn more about her you can visit  Pattie’s blog.


55 Responses to The Secret to Creating Circular Text in Photoshop Elements

  1. Lisa Marie MacDonald March 24, 2011 at 9:12 am #

    Thank you so much for posting this!!!!!

  2. Tora March 24, 2011 at 9:42 am #

    Thank you so much for this tut. I love this :)

  3. Sherry March 24, 2011 at 1:00 pm #

    Thank you so very much – and I can actually do it!

  4. maryann June 13, 2011 at 2:33 am #

    oh my goodness! how in the world did you figure this out!?!? it is amazing, and so do-able with your great instructions! thank you so much!!!!

  5. MJ August 2, 2011 at 9:45 am #

    What a fabulous tutorial! Thank you so much for sharing this!!

  6. Michelle August 10, 2011 at 9:09 am #

    Thank you, I have tried other programs with no avail, I will look into this program because I just love the way manipulating text makes for an added embellishment.

  7. Dianna August 11, 2011 at 1:18 am #

    Thanks for the great post. Question….how do you get a space between the first and last words. See how the word “trick” and “you” are touching. How can you get a space?

    • Pattie Knox August 11, 2011 at 4:14 pm #

      Hi Dianna,

      Since we are basically “tricking” Photoshop Elements into creating circular text there is no hard and fast answer to your question I’m afraid. :( In the full version of Photoshop you can adjust the kerning to “spread out” the spacing of your characters, but Photoshop Elements does not include that feature.

      What you could try is inserting a blank space (using the space bar) at the end of the line of text or experimenting with varying the percentage … say 255% rather than 250%.

      Thanks for asking!

  8. Joanne August 12, 2011 at 1:10 am #

    This is GREAT! THANX so much for sharing!!!

  9. Beth November 14, 2011 at 12:18 am #

    Worked perfectly! Thanks so much for sharing!!

  10. WendyLou December 10, 2011 at 9:45 pm #

    Well I’ll be darned!! How clever is this!!

  11. Marisa G January 5, 2012 at 1:03 am #

    Is it possible to change the color of the text after it has been changed to polar coordinates, or does that need to be done before?

    • Pattie Knox January 5, 2012 at 4:25 pm #

      Since the text has been rasterized or simplified (necessary in order to apply the filter) you can NOT change the color of the type in the normal fashion after applying the polar coordinates. However you could use any of a variety of recoloring methods to change the color of the graphic you’ve created. Hope that helps!

  12. F.Duc January 19, 2012 at 7:55 am #

    Thanks a lot !

  13. Jocelan January 24, 2012 at 1:12 am #

    Great tutorial can’t wait to try it. Thanks for sharing it.

  14. Claire February 25, 2012 at 10:53 pm #

    Do you have a simple tutorial for creating a watermark with Adobe photoshop? I have the program but have no clue how to do it!

  15. Angie Menegay March 18, 2012 at 11:32 am #

    Great tutorial. Thank you for sharing!

  16. Joe April 3, 2012 at 2:20 pm #


    Is it possible to create the text so that it’s readable on the top and bottom?

    Let me try to explain; I have a circular image that I want to put ‘arched’ text into, on both top and bottom. The top of the circle has arched text which bends down at each side. I can acomplish this by using your tutorial. But I also want text on the bottom whch arches up on each side ad is readable. Your text becomes unreadable unless you rotate the circle.

    This website –

    Shows what I’m trying to accomplish.

    Any help would be greatly aprpeciated!


  17. Jan Hunnicutt April 28, 2012 at 2:13 pm #

    Thank you for sharing this tutorial with us, I’ve used it a couple of times now and Love It!

  18. Cairntopia July 30, 2012 at 11:04 pm #

    I do this and then forget how and then Google to find it again. This is an excellent, clearly presented explanation and I’ll bookmark to reference again. Much appreciated. Thanks.

  19. Joy McMillan September 4, 2012 at 11:37 am #

    NO.WAY! I’ve been trying to figure this out for 5 years! THANK YOU SO MUCH! {blowing happy Pinterest kisses your way!}

  20. Darlene (Time-Warp Wife) September 13, 2012 at 1:18 am #

    I was going to Google this just today and then I saw this on Pinterest. My text always looks distorted since the top is stretched wide. Thanks.

  21. Tonya Holsey October 11, 2012 at 4:06 am #

    If you start your text with a space than at the end that space will be there. So, the first and last word will not touch.

  22. Tracy October 22, 2012 at 6:47 am #

    Well the way you show how to do the curved photo look is great and so much easier to other ways I have seen it done. Thanks for this wonderful quicker way. Love your site.Take Care.

  23. Tracy October 31, 2012 at 3:49 am #

    Hi there
    Thank-you so much for this tutorial i have been looking youtube for that last few day and can’t find any thing to help me.

    Thank-you :)

  24. Judy January 26, 2013 at 10:58 pm #

    Does this formula work with Mac as well???

  25. sue neilson February 9, 2013 at 5:18 pm #

    Thank you so much this would be one of the easiest PSE tutorials I’ve done its just so easy and yes works well on a MAC, THANK YOU once again

  26. Robyn G. March 29, 2013 at 10:08 am #

    Thanks for posting this-SO cool! BUT-I have been trying to do it and when I get to “Select Polar Coordinates…” I do that and no “rectangular to polar” comes up anywhere that I can see on the screen. Bugger! Any help please?

    • Natalie April 27, 2013 at 9:03 am #

      ditto! I’m also not seeing a select polar coordinates option anywhere. Using PSE 11. Is this version different? Any advice out there?


      • Melissa Shanhun April 27, 2013 at 9:40 am #

        Hi Ladies

        In PSE11 you just go to Filter – Distort – Polar Coordinates. The Rectangular to Polar is under the preview box

        Hope this helps!


  27. Francene March 31, 2013 at 7:48 pm #

    This works great! Thank you for sharing!

  28. Margie April 2, 2013 at 5:54 pm #

    My brother suggested I might like this website.
    He was entirely right. This post truly made my day.
    You can not imagine simply how much time I had spent for this info!

  29. Priscilla Koelling April 6, 2013 at 4:30 pm #

    Great tips! Can you wrap text around a shape like a heart? —with photoshop elements?

  30. Ashlee April 27, 2013 at 9:36 pm #

    This was so helpful! I’ve been trying to figure out how to do this in elements forever, THANK YOU.

  31. Barbara September 14, 2013 at 2:45 pm #

    Thank you so much! I have been trying to figure out how to do this and your directions were so simple and easy to follow. Now if only I don’t forget!

  32. Mushu October 8, 2013 at 11:11 pm #


    How about text INSIDE the circle?
    Facing inwards.

  33. Bluesman March 22, 2014 at 7:01 pm #

    WOW this is awesome!! Thanks so much. I tried everything with the word art tool in photoshop. ( the arcs and all) You definitely saved me like 3 hours of time before giving up! Thanks

  34. Michelle March 30, 2014 at 4:09 pm #

    Thank you sooooooo much for this

  35. Andy Morris January 24, 2015 at 12:25 pm #

    thank you so much!!! I was looking everywhere

  36. JahzaratheJewel July 9, 2015 at 1:35 pm #

    that was amazing!!! i have been trying to figure this thing out forever!!

  37. Tisa August 23, 2015 at 10:56 am #


  38. Shannon April 12, 2016 at 1:19 pm #

    This is one of the best tutorials I’ve found on making circular text! Thank you so much!!

  39. Gillian May 2, 2016 at 2:37 pm #

    Great tutorial, easy to follow. Thanks so much. Did it in CS2.

  40. peppa October 9, 2016 at 12:01 pm #

    so in love with this tip …. awesome for my projects, great learning something new everyday thank you!!! p

  41. Kristy Pickering September 11, 2017 at 9:44 pm #

    Oh my gosh! I’ve been looking for the answer to this for a while now! Thank you so much for posting this! Now I don’t feel the need to upgrade so bad. hehe

  42. Himadri Adhya February 3, 2018 at 9:26 am #

    Thank you so much!!! I was looking for it everywhere and at last got it! Great Tutorial.


  1. Circular Text in PSE! - DigiShopTalk Digital Scrapbooking - June 26, 2011

    […] text paths in PSE but this cool little tutorial shows you how you can make circular text!!! The Secret to Creating Circular Text in Photoshop Elements […]

  2. Community Shout Out « GCU Community - June 30, 2011

    […] Elements users: I stumbled across a tutorial I thought you might find useful – it’s the Secret to Creating Circular Text. It looks like a fairly easy method for creating a very professional looking […]

  3. Circular Text in Photoshop Elements « Live More Daily | Live More Daily - August 12, 2013

    […] Debbie Hodge […]

Leave a Reply