inDesign Transparent Text Boxes to the Rescue

I want some of my children’s picture book images to fill the 8x8-inch page. My problem is that I didn’t take into account that I would be putting text over the images and now I have to squeeze the text in somehow. I’ve tried to make the text readable on dark backgrounds by giving the the characters a 6-pixel white stroke, but it looks really amateurish. Today I read enough of the inDesign documentation to learn how to set a paragraph’s background color, and how to outline the paragraph with a stroke. By setting the background transparency to about 80% I can place the text frame into most images without obscuring important details. A one-pixel black stroke keeps the white background from bleeding into any light areas in the image.

To set the inset (padding) for the paragraph, select the text frame using Command-B* to open the Text Frame Options box. I using an inset of 0p8 (8 points). In the Paragraph Properties box I’m choosing the beveled corners and a black stroke.

What the page looks like in inDesign.

In the exported PDF, everything beyond the trim line has been removed. There’s a .25 inch margin on the left (inner) margin where the page will be attached to the spine. I think this looks good, better than putting a heavy white stroke on the text.

What the page looks like in the exported PDF. The .25 inch margin shows up on the left.

What the page looks like in the exported PDF. The .25 inch margin shows up on the left.

  • The Mac “command” key is the equivalent of the Windows “control” key.