Outline text to make it stand out

  • Updated

We often see designs with text that blends in with the photo or background color behind it, making the text hard to read. This is especially common with cover designs.

Here's an example from a cover design in BookWright, Blurb's free bookmaking software. In the bottom right corner, notice how the last two characters in particular blend into the photo, making the text hard to read.

preview no outline.png

So what can you do to avoid this? Check out the different ideas below. 

Remember, the design and content of your book are ultimately up to the author (that's you!) Preview your book carefully before you upload it. And if you plan to order multiple copies we recommend ordering and reviewing a single Blurb-printed copy first (aka the proof copy) to see how things look in print.

Move the text

The first option is to simply move your text to another location where it doesn't blend into the background. Below is an example. The black text stands out better against the blue sky.

moved text.png


Change the text color

Another option is to choose a text color that will contrast with the background rather than blend in. In this example I've changed the text color to white. Notice how it immediately "pops" against the photo behind it.

text changed to white.png


Add an outline or border to the text

You can also use an outline or border around your text in a contrasting color that will stand out against the text and the background.

  • Different programs use different terms for this feature. BookWright calls it an outline. InDesign calls it a stroke.
  • Notice how the outlined text below is more readable than the same non-outlined black text seen earlier.
  • Outlining text tends to work best with larger text, like large text on the book's front cover. Smaller text might look odd with an outline around it.
  • Scroll further down to see how to outline text in BookWright.

Outlined text:

preview with outline.png


Non-outlined text:

preview no outline.png


Change the color and outline the text

You can combine several of the options above. Below, I've changed the text color and added an outline--this time a black outline around white text. The white text pops against the darker areas of the photo while the thin black outline helps delineate the text. 

outlined white text.png


Here's the same text without the outline for comparison. This may come down to personal preference since both options--the non-outlined white text and the outlined white text--stand out pretty well. Either is certainly much better than the non-outlined black text we saw at the beginning.

text changed to white.png


How to outline text in BookWright

If you're using BookWright here's how to outline text.

1. Click in the text container so the text editor box appears. Select all the text you want to outline.

select text in BW.png


2. Now, with your text selected, click the Outline tool:

click outline.png


3. Select your outline color. For dark text on a dark background a white outline is often a good choice. After you choose your outline color click Apply.

choose color.png


4. Once you've chosen your outline color, choose the outline size.

  • The outline size will vary depending on the size of your text and how large of an outline you prefer. In this example you can see the text size is 120 and I've chosen an outline size of 3.
  • You'll see your outline apply immediately and can adjust the size as needed.
  • If you also want to change your text color you can do that now as well...just click "Color" under the typeface/font name.

When done, close the text editor by clicking the X in its top right corner.

outline applied.png


5. Click Preview in the upper right to see how your outlined text appears.

preview with outline.png



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