I’ve gotten this question a few times but I don’t think I’ve ever answered but if you’re interested in learning how to typeset your comic, the fastest way to learn is to get down to it and practice. If you don’t have or are not making your own comic, then this can be a problem so there are two ways you can go about this: The first being to sign up to a scanlation group; groups that translate Japanese manga into their local language; and the second way is to sign up with Digital Manga Guild; a company that sells digital manga while you get paid for your service.
Whether you join one or the other, you’ll basically be learning on your own but from my own experience, there are some rules you should follow:
1. Choose an appropriate font.
Not all fonts are created equal. Some fonts are harder to read than others and if your purpose is to have your viewers read your work, then choose fonts that are legible. Mostly, sans serif fonts are used but whatever you use, make sure you comply with the font being legible to readers. You may pick up some fonts at Blambot which are free for personal use and for indie comic creators.
On a side note, make sure you note what fonts you have used in your manga and for what purpose. For example, clearly mark down which fonts you used for speech, thoughts, sfx, handwritten notes, shouts, and whatever else comes up in the manga. This way, you know what you’ve used and keep everything consistent whether you’re typesetting regularly or stop and pick it up several months from now.
2. Choose a font size and use that as a base.
What this means is that for consistency, keep your font fixed at a certain size but if it needs to become larger or smaller, go up or down from that size. For example, if you were to use text in speech bubbles, you generally have to keep the font size the same. But in some cases, the speech bubble becomes smaller or larger so in those cases, you will have to increase or decrease the font size respectively. Keep in mind that if you’re making your text smaller, make sure you don’t make it too small that it’s illegible.
3. Center your text.
Your text should always be centered. If your text is too close to the lines of a box, speech or thought bubble, it throws the balance of that space off. Frankly, it looks unprofessional. With that in mind…
4. Try not to have too many hyphenated words.
Having too many hyphenated words in a speech or box makes it harder for the viewer to read the text easily so in these cases, try to limit it by clicking before the hyphenated word and pressing “Enter” to bring it to the next line. If you can’t fit everything in because of this, reduce the font size.
5. Don’t be afraid to use black or white text.
Most text in manga is black but for panels with dark backgrounds, don’t hesitate to make the text white so it’s more legible.
5. Use stroke for text to make it pop!
The stroke tool allows a border to enclose a font allowing it to stand out from a background. Try out black text with white stroke and white text with black stroke for some interesting results! If you’re up to it, try playing around with drop shadows and pattern fill.
6. Try not to use vertical text.
Vertical text is hard to read unless the language can be read that way so avoid making your text vertical as much as possible! If it can’t be helped, always try to make it as legible as possible.
Reading through all that, there’s an underlining rule that I haven’t mentioned yet and that is…
7. Whatever you do, make sure the text is legible!
There are a lot of fun things you can do with text especially in Photoshop so whatever you do; skew, transform, twirl, move, and countless other font-bending acts; make sure it’s still legible.
If you’re not into learning on your own or have tried typesetting but are not too familiar with the tools available, hang in there! Keep trying or if you don’t mind waiting a bit, keep an eye out for my typesetting tutorial where I teach you step-by-step typesetting with visual examples.