How To Change the Default Text Alignment (Left, Center, Right) in After Effects?

Text layers are fundamental elements in After Effects, adding titles, captions, and other visual elements to your animations. While creating individual text layers allows for specific alignment adjustments, establishing a default alignment for new text layers can save you time and effort in the long run. This article explores the various methods for setting default text alignment (left, center, right) in After Effects, streamlining your workflow and ensuring consistent text layout.

Understanding Text Alignment Options

After Effects offers three primary text alignment options for both horizontal and vertical placement:

  • Left: Text characters align along the left edge of the text layer boundary.
  • Center: Text is positioned horizontally in the center of the text layer.
  • Right: Text characters align along the right edge of the text layer boundary.

Vertical Alignment: While not the main focus of this article, keep in mind that After Effects also offers vertical alignment options (Top, Middle, Bottom) within the Character panel. These work similarly to horizontal alignment, controlling the vertical positioning of text within the text layer.

Setting the Default Text Alignment: Multiple Approaches

Here are several methods to establish a preferred default alignment for new text layers:

Method 1: Utilizing the Character Panel

  1. Create a New Text Layer: Go to the Layer menu and select "New" > "Text."
  2. Choose Your Default Alignment: In the Character panel (usually on the right side by default), locate the "Alignment" dropdown menu. Select the desired alignment option (Left, Center, Right).
  3. Save as Preset (Optional): If you want to save this configuration as a reusable preset for consistent text styles, right-click on the text layer in the timeline panel and select "Save Preset." Give your preset a descriptive name that reflects the chosen alignment.


  • Easy to implement and allows for quick alignment adjustments before creating a preset.
  • Offers control over both horizontal and vertical alignment within the Character panel.


  • Requires creating a new text layer to set the default alignment.
  • Presets work best for frequently used styles, not ideal for constantly changing alignments.

Method 2: Leveraging Paragraph Styles Panel (After Effects CC 2019 and Later)

The Paragraph Styles panel offers a more comprehensive approach to managing text styles:

  1. Open the Paragraph Styles Panel: Go to Window > Paragraph Styles.
  2. Create a New Paragraph Style: Click the "+" icon at the bottom of the panel and choose "New Paragraph Style."
  3. Define Your Default Alignment: In the edit window, locate the "Alignment" section and choose the desired horizontal and vertical alignment options.
  4. Apply Style to Text Layers: Select existing or new text layers and click on the created paragraph style in the Paragraph Styles panel.


  • Powerful tool for managing various text style aspects, including alignment.
  • Allows for applying the default alignment to existing or new text layers.


  • Requires familiarity with the Paragraph Styles panel features.
  • Styles are project-specific and need to be recreated for new projects.

Method 3: Scripting for Advanced Users

For those comfortable with scripting, creating a custom script can automate the process of setting the default text alignment for new layers. Here's a general idea (consult online resources for specific script examples):

  1. Learn Scripting Languages: After Effects supports ExtendScript or JavaScript for writing custom scripts.
  2. Write a Script to Set Default Alignment: The script would need to access and modify the default text layer properties, setting the desired alignment upon creating a new text layer.
  3. Run the Script: You can either run the script manually or configure it to execute automatically when creating new projects.


  • Powerful solution for automating default alignment changes.
  • Highly customizable for specific needs.


  • Requires scripting knowledge and can be a technical challenge for beginners.
  • Potential for compatibility issues with different After Effects versions.

Choosing the Right Method: Workflow and Preferences

The best method for setting the default text alignment depends on your workflow and preferences:

  • For occasional alignment changes: Use the Character panel and adjust alignment before creating a text layer.
  • For frequent use of specific alignments: Create paragraph styles with preferred alignments and apply them to text layers.
  • For automating alignment for all new text layers: Explore scripting solutions if you're comfortable with coding.

Additional Tips:

  • Match System Text Alignment: Consider setting your default text alignment in After Effects to match the system text alignment on your computer for consistency across applications.
  • Keyboard Shortcuts: Utilize keyboard shortcuts for alignment adjustments within the Character panel (e.g., Ctrl + Shift + L for Left alignment on Windows).
  • Experiment with Alignment: Don't be afraid to experiment with different text alignments to achieve the desired visual effect for your animations. Consider the overall composition, hierarchy of information, and readability when choosing alignment.

Beyond the Basics: Advanced Text Alignment Techniques

While left, center, and right alignment are the fundamental options, After Effects offers additional features for precise text layout:

  • Justification: This controls the spacing between characters within a text layer. Options include "Left Justified" (flush left), "Right Justified" (flush right), "Center Justified" (even spacing), and "Justified" (spacing adjusted to create straight edges on both sides).
  • Character Spacing and Kerning: These techniques allow for fine-tuning the space between individual characters, further enhancing text readability and visual appeal. (Refer to a separate article on Character Spacing and Kerning for detailed information)


By mastering the various methods for setting default text alignment and exploring advanced techniques, you can elevate the presentation of your text layers in After Effects. Remember, strategic alignment choices contribute significantly to a well-organized and visually pleasing animation. Choosing the right alignment approach streamlines your workflow and ensures consistent text formatting throughout your projects. So, embrace the power of text alignment and elevate the visual language of your After Effects animations!

Read more