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This module simplifies drawing text with the pygame.font module. Specifically, the ptext module:

  • handles the pygame.font.Font objects.
  • handles the separate step of generating a pygame.Surface and then blitting it.
  • caches commonly-used Surfaces.
  • handles word wrap.
  • provides more fine-grained text positioning options.
  • provides a few special effects: outlines, drop shadows, gradient fill, and transparency.

ptext is not part of or affiliated with pygame. It requires that you already have pygame installed separately.

Quick usage examples

ptext.draw("Font name and size", (20, 100), fontname="fonts/Boogaloo.ttf", fontsize=60)
ptext.draw("Font decoration", (300, 180), sysfontname="freesans", italic=True, underline=True)
ptext.draw("Positioned text", topright=(840, 20))
ptext.draw("Here's some neatly-wrapped text.", (90, 210), width=120, lineheight=1.5)
ptext.draw("Outlined text", (400, 70), owidth=1.5, ocolor=(255,255,0), color=(0,0,0))
ptext.draw("Drop shadow", (640, 110), shadow=(2,2), scolor="#202020")
ptext.draw("Color gradient", (540, 170), color="red", gcolor="purple")
ptext.draw("Transparency", (700, 240), alpha=0.1)
ptext.draw("Vertical text", midleft=(40, 440), angle=90)
ptext.draw("_Inline_ [styles]!", (630, 320), underlinetag="_", colortag={"[":"yellow","]":None})
ptext.draw("All together now:\nCombining the above options",
	midbottom=(427,460), width=360, fontname="fonts/Boogaloo.ttf", fontsize=48, underline=True,
	color="#AAFF00", gcolor="#66AA00", owidth=1.5, ocolor="black", alpha=0.8, angle=5)

To install

Download and put it in your source directory. To install from command line:

curl > my-source-directory/

Detailed usage

ptext.draw requires the string you want to draw, and the position. You can either do this by passing coordinates as the second argument (which is the top left of where the text will appear), or use the positioning keyword arguments (described later).

ptext.draw("hello world", (20, 100))

ptext.draw takes the following optional keyword arguments:

fontname sysfontname fontsize antialias
bold italic underline
color background
top left bottom right
topleft bottomleft topright bottomright
midtop midleft midbottom midright
center centerx centery
width widthem lineheight pspace strip
owidth ocolor
shadow scolor
gcolor shade
underlinetag boldtag italictag colortag

The ptext module also has module-level globals that control the default behavior. These can be set to your desired values:


The ptext.draw keyword arguments and the ptext module-level global variables are described in detail in the following sections.

The return value from ptext.draw is a length-2 tuple of the Surface to blit, and the destination position. You can usually ignore it, but you can use it with blit to repeat the exact same draw command again, or draw the same text in the same place on a different Surface.

tsurf, tpos = ptext.draw(..., surf=screen)
screen2.blit(tsurf, tpos)  # Also blit to a second surface.

Font name and size

ptext.draw("hello world", (100, 100), fontname="fonts/Viga.ttf", fontsize=32)

Keyword arguments:

  • fontname: filename of the font to draw. Defaults to ptext.DEFAULT_FONT_NAME, which is set to None by default.
  • sysfontname: name of the system font to draw. Defaults to ptext.DEFAULT_SYSFONT_NAME, which is set to None by default.
  • fontsize: size of the font to use, in pixels. Defaults to ptext.DEFAULT_FONT_SIZE, which is set to 24 by default.
  • antialias: whether to render with antialiasing. Defaults to True.

Use fontname to specify the filename of a font file. Use sysfontname to specify the name of a system font. At most one of fontname and sysfontname may be set to something other than None.

If you don't want to specify the whole filename for the fonts every time you use fontname, it can be useful to set ptext.FONT_NAME_TEMPLATE. For instance, if your font files are in a subdirectory called fonts and all have the extension .ttf:

ptext.FONT_NAME_TEMPLATE = "fonts/%s.ttf"
ptext.draw("hello world", (100, 100), fontname="Viga")  # Will look for fonts/Viga.ttf

If both fontname and sysfontname are None (which is the default if you don't specify either of them) then it will fall back to the system font.

Font decoration

ptext.draw("hello world", (100, 100), bold=True, underline=True)

Keyword arguments:

  • bold: whether to apply bold font weight. Defaults to None.
  • italic: whether to apply italic font style. Defaults to None.
  • underline: whether to apply underline font decoration. Defaults to None.

All of bold, italic, and underline may be set to True, False, or None. Typically there's no reason to ever set them to False, though. That should be the default for most fonts.

The exact behavior of bold and italic depends on whether you specify fontname or sysfontname. For fontname, these keywords will apply a crude method to the font. A preferable solution is to get the bold or italic version of the font file you want, in which case you don't need to use the keywords. For sysfontname, these keywords will cause you to actually pull up the corresponding bold or italic versions of the system font.

Color and background color

ptext.draw("hello world", (100, 100), color=(200, 200, 200), background="gray")

Keyword arguments:

  • color: foreground color to use. Defaults to ptext.DEFAULT_COLOR, which is set to "white" by default.
  • background: background color to use. Defaults to ptext.DEFAULT_BACKGROUND, which is set to None by default.

color (as well as background, ocolor, scolor, and gcolor) can be an (r, g, b) sequence such as (255,127,0), a pygame.Color object, a color name such as "orange", an HTML hex color string such as "#FF7F00", or a string representing a hex color number such as "0xFF7F00".

background can also be None, in which case the background is transparent. Unlike pygame.font.Font.render, it's generally not more efficient to set a background color when calling ptext.draw. So only specify a background color if you actually want one.

Colors with alpha transparency are not supported (except for the special case of invisible text with outlines or drop shadows - see below). See the alpha keyword argument for transparency.


ptext.draw("hello world", centery=50, right=300)
ptext.draw("hello world", midtop=(400, 0))

Keyword arguments:

top left bottom right
topleft bottomleft topright bottomright
midtop midleft midbottom midright
center centerx centery

Positioning keyword arguments behave like the corresponding properties of pygame.Rect. Either specify two arguments, corresponding to the horizontal and vertical positions of the box, or a single argument that specifies both.

If the position is overspecified (e.g. both left and right are given), then extra specifications will be (arbitrarily but deterministically) discarded. For constrained text, see the section on ptext.drawbox below.

Text width

ptext.draw("splitting\nlines", (100, 100))
ptext.draw("splitting lines", (100, 100), width=60)

Keyword arguments:

  • width: maximum width of the text to draw, in pixels. Defaults to None.
  • widthem: maximum width of the text to draw, in font-based em units. Defaults to None.

ptext.draw will always wrap lines at newline (\n) characters. If width or widthem is set, it will also try to wrap lines in order to keep each line shorter than the given width.

For a detailed description of how line breaks work, and how to use hyphenation, see the Word Wrap section below.

Line spacing

ptext.draw("double\nspace", (100, 100), lineheight=2)

Keyword arguments:

  • lineheight: vertical spacing between lines, in units of the font's default line height. Defaults to ptext.DEFAULT_LINE_HEIGHT, which defaults to 1.
  • pspace: additional vertical spacing between paragraphs, in units of the font's default line height. Defaults to ptext.DEFAULT_PARAGRAPH_SPACE, which defaults to 0.

Vertical positioning of each line depends on the values of lineheight and pspace. pspace is only applied for explicit line breaks (i.e. at newline characters), whereas lineheight is applied for both explicit line breaks, and line breaks due to word wrap. Increasing these values will spread lines apart more vertically.

Text alignment

ptext.draw("hello\nworld", bottomright=(500, 400), align="left")

Keyword argument:

  • align: horizontal positioning of lines with respect to each other. Defaults to None.

align determines how lines are positioned horizontally with respect to each other, when more than one line is drawn. Valid values for align are the strings "left", "center", or "right", a numerical value between 0.0 (for left alignment) and 1.0 (for right alignment), or None.

If align is None, the alignment is determined based on other arguments, in a way that should be what you want most of the time. It depends on any positioning arguments (topleft, centerx, etc.), anchor, and ptext.DEFAULT_ALIGN, which is set to "left" by default. I suggest you generally trust the default alignment, and only specify align if something doesn't look right.


ptext.draw("hello world", (100, 100), owidth=1, ocolor="blue")

Keyword arguments:

  • owidth: outline thickness, in outline units. Defaults to ptext.DEFAULT_OUTLINE_WIDTH, which is set to None by default.
  • ocolor: outline color. Defaults to ptext.DEFAULT_OUTLINE_COLOR, which is set to "black" by default.

The text will be outlined if owidth is specified. The outlining is a crude manual method, and will probably look bad at large sizes. The units of owidth are chosen so that 1.0 is a good typical value for outlines. Specifically, they're the font size times ptext.OUTLINE_UNIT, which is set to 1/24 by default.

As a special case, setting color to a transparent value (e.g. (0,0,0,0)) while using outilnes will cause the text to be invisible, giving a hollow outline. (This feature is not compatible with gcolor.)

Setting owidth to 0 is slightly different from setting it to None. If owidth is 0, the outline will be drawn, but covered over by the main text.

Valid values for ocolor are the same as for color.

Drop shadow

ptext.draw("hello world", (100, 100), shadow=(1.0,1.0), scolor="blue")

Keyword arguments:

  • shadow: (x,y) values representing the drop shadow offset, in shadow units. Defaults to ptext.DEFAULT_SHADOW_OFFSET, which is None by default.
  • scolor: drop shadow color. Defaults to ptext.DEFAULT_SHADOW_COLOR, which is "black" by default.

The text will have a drop shadow if shadow is specified. It must be set to a 2-element sequence representing the x and y offsets of the drop shadow, which can be positive, negative, or 0. For example, shadow=(1.0,1.0) corresponds to a shadow down and to the right of the text. shadow=(0,-1.2) corresponds to a shadow higher than the text.

The units of shadow are chosen so that 1.0 is a good typical value for the offset. Specifically, they're the font size times ptext.SHADOW_UNIT, which is set to 1/18 by default.

Setting shadow to (0, 0) is slightly different from setting it to None. If shadow is (0, 0), the drop shadow will be drawn, but covered over by the main text.

As a special case, setting color to a transparent value (e.g. (0,0,0,0)) while using drop shadow will cause the text to be invisible, giving a hollow shadow. (This feature is not compatible with gcolor.)

Valid values for scolor are the same as for color.

Gradient color

ptext.draw("hello world", (100, 100), color="black", gcolor="green")

Keyword arguments:

  • gcolor: Lower gradient stop color. Defaults to None.
  • shade: Gradient shading amount. Higher values are darker. Defaults to ptext.DEFAULT_SHADE, which is 0 by default.

Specify gcolor to color the text with a vertical color gradient. The text's color will be color at the top and gcolor at the bottom. Positioning of the gradient stops and orientation of the gradient are hard coded and cannot be specified.

Alternately, for a simple darkening or lightening effect, set shade, which will darken or lighten the color for a gradient. Positive values give a sense of being illuminated from above, and negative values give a sense of being illuminated from below. The units of shade are chosen such that shade=1 is a good typical value. shade=3 will produce a very strong shading effect. Note that this is completely separate from drop shadow, which is specified using the shadow argument.

Requries pygame.surfarray module, which uses numpy or Numeric library.

Alpha transparency

ptext.draw("hello world", (100, 100), alpha=0.5)

Keyword argument:

  • alpha: alpha transparency value, between 0 and 1. Defaults to 1.0.

In order to maximize reuse of cached transparent surfaces, the value of alpha is rounded. ptext.ALPHA_RESOLUTION, which is set to 16 by default, specifies the number of different values alpha may take internally. Set it higher (up to 255) for more fine-grained control over transparency values.

Requries pygame.surfarray module, which uses numpy or Numeric library.

Anchored positioning

ptext.draw("hello world", (100, 100), anchor=(0.3,0.7))

Keyword argument:

  • anchor: a length-2 sequence of horizontal and vertical anchor fractions. Defaults to ptext.DEFAULT_ANCHOR, which is set to (0.0, 0.0) by default.

anchor specifies how the text is anchored to the given position, when no positioning keyword arguments are passed. The two values in anchor can take arbitrary values between 0.0 and 1.0. An anchor value of (0,0), the default, means that the given position is the top left of the text. A value of (1,1) means the given position is the bottom right of the text.


ptext.draw("hello world", (100, 100), angle=10)

Keyword argument:

  • angle: counterclockwise rotation angle in degrees. Defaults to 0.

Positioning of rotated surfaces is tricky. When drawing rotated text with ptext, the anchor point, the position you actually specify, remains fixed, and the text rotates around it. For instance, if you specify the top left of the text to be at (100, 100) with an angle of 90, then the Surface will actually be drawn so that its bottom left is at (100, 100).

If you find that confusing, try specifying the center. If you anchor the text at the center, then the center will remain fixed, no matter how you rotate it.

In order to maximize reuse of cached rotated surfaces, the value of angle is rounded to the nearest multiple of ptext.ANGLE_RESOLUTION_DEGREES, which is set to 3 by default. Set it lower for more fine-grained control over rotation. It's recommended you set it only to values that divide evenly into 90 in floating-point representation. Such values include:

0.25 0.5 0.75 1 1.25 1.5 2 2.25 2.5 3 3.75 4.5 5 6 7.5 9 10 15 18 30

Word wrap

Keyword arguments:

  • strip: boolean controlling the handling of trailing spaces at line breaks. Defaults to ptext.DEFAULT_STRIP, which is set to True by default.

Here's the details of how word wrap works. When the width or widthem keyword argument is given, ptext.draw will insert line breaks in order to fit the text within the given width. The text is not guaranteed to be within the width, because wrapping only occurs at certain characters, so for instance if a single word is too long to fit on a line, it will not be broken up. Outline and drop shadow are also not accounted for, so they may extend beyond the given width.

Generally, wrap will occur at the rightmost allowed point that doesn't overrun the given width. For the purpose of word wrap, ptext.draw treats the following characters specially:

  • "\n" (newline): a line break is inserted. The "\n" character is not printed.
  • " " (space): a line break may be inserted at each space character. Trailing spaces at the end of each line are not printed (unless strip is set to False: see below). Trailing spaces are ignored when determining whether a string of text fits within the width. No matter how many spaces are in a row, the following line will begin with the next non-space character.
  • "-" (hyphen): a line break may be inserted after each hyphen character.
  • "\u00A0" (non-breaking space): do not allow a line break here. In the output, a regular space (" ") is printed instead of the non-breaking space.
  • "\u2011" (non-breaking hyphen): do not allow a line break here. In the output, a regular hyphen ("-") is printed instead of the non-breaking hyphen.
  • "\u200B" (zero-width space): a line break may be inserted here. In any event, this character is not printed.
  • "\u00AD" (soft hyphen): a line break may be inserted here. If that happens, a hyphen ("-") will be added to the end of the line.

To achieve book or newspaper style hyphenation, where a hyphen may be inserted after each syllable in a word, preprocess your text before passing it to ptext.draw to insert soft hyphens between syllables, e.g.:

"Hyphenate this!" => "Hy\u00ADphen\u00ADate this!"

The strip keyword determines how trailing space characters are handled. If strip is set to True (the default), then trailing spaces will be stripped from all lines. Space characters that occur at a linebreak will not be printed, on either of the two lines, and they will not contribute to the length of the line in accounting for width. Leading spaces (i.e. spaces that occur at the beginning of the string, or immediately after "\n"), will be preserved.

If strip is set to False, then trailing space characters will be only be stripped from the ends of lines if this would cause them to overrun the specified width. Setting strip to False for text that is not left-aligned may produce surprising results. Also, for left-aligned text, this option is essentially meaningless if background is set to None, since trailing spaces are invisible.

Inline styling (experimental)

Note: the API for inline styling is under development. This section is subject to change.

ptext.draw("hello **world**", (100, 100), boldtag="**")

Keyword arguments:

  • underlinetag: a string indicating the start and end of underlining within text. Defaults to ptext.DEFAULT_UNDERLINE_TAG, which is None by default.
  • boldtag: a string indicating the start and end of bolding within text. Defaults to ptext.DEFAULT_BOLD_TAG, which is None by default.
  • italictag: a string indicating the start and end of italicizing within text. Defaults to ptext.DEFAULT_ITALIC_TAG, which is None by default.
  • colortag: a dict mapping strings to colors, indicating where color should change within the text. Defaults to ptext.DEFAULT_COLOR_TAG, which is {} by default.

This lets you style part of the drawn text, by toggling underline, bold, or italic, or by changing the color of the text. No inline styling will be applied by default: the tags must be specified first. I recommend using the global defaults and picking tags that you're not using for any other purpose, e.g.:

ptext.DEFAULT_BOLD_TAG = "**"
	">>": None,
	"<<R": "red",
	"<<B": "blue",
ptext.draw("How about some **bold** text or some <<Rred text>>!", (0, 0))

Inline styling is not yet compatible with certain options. If you use inline styling, you may not use text rotation (option angle), outlines (option owidth), drop shadow (option shadow), gradient color (options gcolor or shade), or any alignment other than left-aligned (options align and anchor, as well as certain positioning options).

Destination surface

mysurface = pygame.Surface((400, 400)).convert_alpha()
ptext.draw("hello world", (100, 100), surf=mysurface)

Keyword arugment:

  • surf: destination pygame.Surface object. Defaults to the display Surface.

Specify surf if you don't want to draw directly to the display Surface (pygame.display.get_surface()).

If you set surf to None, then no blitting will actually occur. The text Surface will still be generated, and returned from ptext.draw. You can use this option if you want to pre-generate a text Surface so it's in the cache when you need it.

Text Surface caching

ptext.draw("hello world", (100, 100), cache=False)
ptext.AUTO_CLEAN = False

Keyword argument:

  • cache: whether to cache Surfaces generated while rendering text during this call. Defaults to True.

ptext caches pygame.Surface objects, so they don't have to rendered with subsequent calls. You should be able to not worry about this part.

In order to keep memory from getting arbitrarily large, ptext will free previously cached Surface objects, starting with the least recently used objects. In theory, this could cause noticeable skips in gameplay. I haven't noticed it, but if you want to control this behavior, set ptext.AUTO_CLEAN to False, and call ptext.clean yourself at times when framerate is not cruical (e.g. menu screens).

ptext.MEMORY_LIMIT_MB is the approximate size of the cache in megabytes before a cleanup occurs. It's set to 64 by default. As long as the cache stays below this size, ptext.clean is a no-op. ptext.MEMORY_REDUCTION_FACTOR controls how much is deleted in this process. Valid values range from 0.0 (everything is deleted) to 1.0 (just enough is deleted to drop below the limit). It's set to 0.5 by default.

ptext.drawbox: Constrained text

ptext.drawbox("hello world", (100, 100, 200, 50))

ptext.drawbox requires two arguments: the text to be drawn, and a pygame.Rect or a Rect-like object to stay within. The font size will be chosen to be as large as possible while staying within the box. Other than fontsize and positional arguments, you can pass all the same keyword arguments to ptext.drawbox as to ptext.draw. The return value is the same as for ptext.draw.


for text, rect, font in ptext.layout("hello world", fontsize=50, center=(500, 500)):

ptext.layout returns a list of spans. Each span is a 3-tuple consisting of the string of text that the span covers, the pygame.Rect object covered by the span on the destination surface, and the pygame.Font object used to render text within that span.

ptext.layout takes all the same arguments as ptext.draw. The following arguments are silently ignored, since they have no effect on the layout:

color background ocolor scolor gcolor shade alpha surf cache

Rotated text is not supported by this method. The angle keyword argument, if specified, must be 0.

Other public methods

These methods are used internally, but you can use them if you want. They should work fine.

ptext.getfont(fontname, fontsize)

ptext.getfont returns the corresponding pygame.font.Font object.

ptext.getsurf(text, **kwargs)

ptext.getsurf takes the same keyword arguments that ptext.draw takes (except for arguments related to positioning), and returns the pygame.Surface containing the text to be drawn.

OpenGL support with ptextgl

The ptextgl module provides a wrapper around ptext that allows you to draw to an OpenGL surface if you have the pyopengl module installed alongside pygame. To use, put both and in your source directory.

The basic usage is essentially identical to calling ptext.draw:

ptextgl.draw("hello world", (100, 100), color="gray")

Even though OpenGL follows the convention of y increasing upward, ptextgl follows the convention of y increasing downward, like pygame does, in order to be as similar to ptext as possible. So (0, 0) refers to the upper-left of the screen.

The surf keyword argument must not be specified.

OpenGL state preparation

ptextgl.draw("hello world", (100, 100), prep=False)

Keyword argument:

  • prep: Defaults to ptextgl.AUTO_PREP, which defaults to True.

OpenGL has a lot of state that affects how a render call will actually appear on the screen. In order for pytextgl to render properly, the proper state must be established before the render occurs.

By default, every call to pytextgl.draw will prepare the appropriate state, invoke the render, and re-establish the state from before the call occurred. See the following section for details as to what's included in this state.

This default can be potentially wasteful if you make several consecutive calls to pytextgl.draw, since they all use the same state, which must be re-established with each call.

ptextgl.draw(text0, pos0)
ptextgl.draw(text1, pos1)
ptextgl.draw(text2, pos2)

In this case you can avoid changing state with every draw call with the prep argument. The module functions ptextgl.prep and ptextgl.unprep let you manually set up and restore the state. ptextgl.prep returns an object that can be passed to ptextgl.unprep to re-establish the state from before the call.

state = ptextgl.prep()
ptextgl.draw(text0, pos0, prep=False)
ptextgl.draw(text1, pos1, prep=False)
ptextgl.draw(text2, pos2, prep=False)

OpenGL state

The following aspects of the OpenGL state are affected by ptextgl.prep:

  • Current shader

The following aspects of the OpenGL state are not affected:



Convenience functions for drawing using the pygame.font module.




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