Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365. If you are using an earlier version (Word 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Word, click here: Creating See-through Text Boxes.

Creating See-Through Text Boxes

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated August 17, 2023)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365


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Word allows you to create text boxes in your document. These can be used to create special document elements, such as sidebars or boxed text. There may be times when you want the text box to be transparent, meaning that whatever is behind the text box shows through. There are two ways you can handle this: you can either make the text box partially transparent or make it fully transparent. How you accomplish this depends on the version of Word you are using.

If you are using Word 2007, follow these steps to control the transparency:

  1. Place your text box, as normal.
  2. Right-click on the text box. Word displays a Context menu.
  3. Choose Format Text Box from the Context menu. Word displays the Format Text Box dialog box.
  4. Make sure the Colors and Lines tab is selected. (See Figure 1.)
  5. Figure 1. The Colors and Lines tab of the Format Text Box dialog box.

  6. Click the Semitransparent check box if you want a "ghost image" of what is behind the text box to show through.
  7. If you want the text box to be fully transparent, use the Color setting in the Fill area to choose No Fill.
  8. Display the Layout tab. (See Figure 2.)
  9. Figure 2. The Layout tab of the Format Text Box dialog box.

  10. Make sure the wrapping style is set to In Front of Text.
  11. Click on OK.

In Word 2010 the steps are a bit different:

  1. Place your text box, as normal.
  2. Right-click on the text box. Word displays a Context menu.
  3. Choose Format Shape from the Context menu. Word displays the Format Shape dialog box.
  4. At the left side of the dialog box click Fill. (See Figure 3.)
  5. Figure 3. The Fill options of the Format Shape dialog box.

  6. Use the Transparency slider to adjust how transparent you want the Text Box to be. (If you want the Text Box to be fully transparent, slide the control all the way to 100%. You can also make it fully transparent by clicking the No Fill radio button.)
  7. At the left side of the dialog box click Line Color. (See Figure 4.)
  8. Figure 4. The Line Color options of the Format Shape dialog box.

  9. Either choose No Line or use the Transparency slider to adjust how transparent you want the line to be.
  10. Click on OK.
  11. Again right-click the text box to display the Context menu.
  12. Choose Wrap Text option and then choose In Front of Text.

In Word 2013 or a later version, the steps are even more different:

  1. Place your text box, as normal.
  2. Right-click on the text box. Word displays a Context menu.
  3. Choose Format Shape from the Context menu. Word displays the Format Shape pane at the right side of the screen.
  4. Click the Fill and Line icon (it looks like a spilling paint bucket).
  5. Click on the Fill option to expand it. (See Figure 5.)
  6. Figure 5. The Format Shape task pane.

  7. Use the Transparency slider to adjust how transparent you want the Text Box to be. (If you want the Text Box to be fully transparent, slide the control all the way to 100%. You can also make it fully transparent by clicking the No Fill radio button.)
  8. Again, right-click the text box to display the Context menu.
  9. Choose Wrap Text option and then choose In Front of Text.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (12687) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Creating See-through Text Boxes.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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What is 1 - 0?

2019-12-01 03:54:05

Ron

Never mind, I found the answer. I had to highlight the text and change the formatting style to Normal and that made the paragraph background transparent.


2019-11-30 17:22:40

Ron

The problem I'm having is that even though the text box itself is transparent, the paragraph background is not. For example, I'm trying to put a text box with white text over an image that is mostly black, and I can't change the background of the paragraph to either transparent or black, so it looks like blocks of white instead of just the white text.


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