Every once in a while we might find ourselves needing to get that “inset” or “beveled” look for text, probably more often for buttons and web design, than anything else. But whatever reason you might need or want inset text, here's a quick tip to get that effect without using a filter, effect, layer style or appearance. Why? By not using filters, your file is more solid and reliable, you can open it in previous versions of the same software with less headache, and if you send vector files to print it will give you less errors by only using paths instead of filters/effects. I will be using Illustrator in the example, but this technique can be applied to just about any software you use to set your typography.
An example of this effect can be found at the Apple website.
1. Make Your Shape and Text
I'm using a gradient here, and this effect works best when the text is somewhat dark. In essence this is a simple lighting technique where the light is coming from the top. So, naturally the gradient on my button is lighter at the top and darker at the bottom, where the shadow would be. Here is what my background shape and text look like before we get started.
2. Set your “Nudge” increment
Go to your Illustrator (or other app) preferences, and choose “General.”
Set the “nudge” increment to 0.5 pixels, (or a distance of your liking).
3. Duplicate, Nudge, and Color
Now, with your text selected, hit Command/Control + C to copy, then Command/Control + B to paste the copy directly behind your original text. Then, hit the Down arrow once to nudge your new text down half a pixel. Keep it selected, and change the text color to a light gray, and Done! If you zoom out and view your button at 100% scale, it should look something like this:
So there you have it, a clean beveled text look, without any fancy filters or effects. You may want to group your two text paths together so they always stay aligned the way you like them.