How to Replace Text Multiple Times in After Effects Without Deleting It

Updated on: October 11, 2022

After Effects has several default features that help you make simple but creative animations, those options are not limited to the shapes you can create with the software but also work for text layers. 

If you have ever wanted to animate a message, so each of its words appears and disappears progressively, keep reading because we are about to show you how to replace a text multiple times without deleting it.

Using Source Text to create a basic text animation

Imagine you want to make a karaoke-style video where, according to the moment, the only word to be sung appears on the screen. How would you do this? 

The first answer to your mind may be to write word by word in an individual text layer. Wrong! The Timeline would be chaotic. The easiest way is to activate keyframes on a feature called Source Text. Here is how to use it:

  1. Activate the Text tool by clicking Ctrl + T or Cmd + T if you are working on Mac.
  1. Type a word in your chosen font and center it with the Align panel buttons.
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  1. When your word is centered on the composition screen, go to the corresponding Text layer on the Timeline and expand the properties tab.
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  1. Choose the Text option, locate the Time Indicator at the beginning of the Timeline, and turn on the stopwatch next to Source Text. Now you can change the text you have just written and rewrite it numerous times with a new word.
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  1. After you have created the first keyframe, move the Time Indicator again, but a few seconds ahead. After that, select your entire word, delete it and type a new one.
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  1. Play your composition from the beginning of the Timeline with the space bar, and see how the original word remains but changes just the second you decide to create a second keyframe with a new one.
  1. Keep adding keyframes by positioning the Time Indicator at the seconds you want and typing as many new words as you wish.

In case you don't want to perform this animation or you want to start from scratch, disable the stopwatch. This way, the keyframes associated with the Source Text will disappear from the Timeline.

Replacing text without deleting it is an exciting trick to animate in After Effects, so we recommend you take advantage of it in future projects.

Andrea Mercado is a tech-focused journalist and copywriter with over 5 years of experience covering innovation, edtech, AI, and internet trends across media outlets. She is passionate about how technology can democratize access to education and is an avid learner when it comes to emerging tech like AI. Her articles and webinars help readers stay informed on the latest tech developments.
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