I suspect that a popular app is styling highlighted text this way. Do you know it?

I noticed it first in this tweet:

enter image description here

Then I saw it again in this video:

enter image description here

The line style is called round line caps in SVG parlance:

enter image description here

  • 1
    are you asking "which application is doing this?" or are you asking "why did the application developer choose this?"
    – Yorik
    Sep 7 at 17:37
  • 1
    It's typically nearly impossible to track where a trend starts. That's the nature of a "tend" in general. At best, you'll find someone claiming they started it which may or may not be true. -- (for the record, I started the trend of trends. :) )
    – Scott
    Sep 7 at 21:26

I don't think it's a trend, just a matter of practicality/convenience.

Firstly, I reckon it's not a vector line with end caps, because the text is quite obviously scanned or photographed, and the highlight has probably been added using a raster image editor like Photoshop or GIMP (or virtually any half decent raster image editor) using a round brush tip. No need to worry about end caps.

You can add a new layer, set the blending mode to multiply, choose a round hard edged brush, and click once for the start of the line, hold down Shift, then click a second point to make a straight line between the two.

enter image description here

So, if I were to hazard a guess at its origin, I'd say it was probably with the advent of image editors like Photoshop, which gained layer functionality back in 1993 (Photoshop 3.0 introduced layers). It makes sense to use a round tipped brush to do this, because a flat edged brush would need to be specifically created/rotated to make sure it's at the correct angle, introducing an unnecessary complication. Obviously a round brush tip is more practical to use to highlight text, especially if it's sloping downwards as in the example.

  • This is everything I was trying to ask. Thanks for the demo! So it’s not a trend, but a simple way of dealing with skewed lines. I tried it in GIMP, works great! And ha— the multiply blend mode is perfect for highlighting text, which I’ve been doing wrong for years: bennadel.com/blog/… I wonder now if highlighting text is the clearest example of a real-world application of this blend mode. Sep 9 at 11:59
  • 1
    @ShaunLebron I said "I don't think it's a trend". It's only my opinion. I can't prove it isn't. But in graphic design so-called "trends" are often just rehashes of stuff that has gone before. There is rarely anything new under the sun, especially when you're old like me, when you been around long enough to remember a time before computers were used in graphic design ;)
    – Billy Kerr
    Sep 9 at 12:33

Photoshop with coloured rounded rectangle overlayed probably. Can be done in just about every photo editing app.

As you can see from the woncky angle it is a picture and not live digital text. Colour overlay is also not perfectly aligned with text angle – which you would expect from an app that highlights the text.

  • The lines aren't straight, I see that. But those perfectly rounded line caps makes it look suspiciously digital in my eyes. I mostly see highlight markers with rectangular tips. And even if they were round it would be hard to make such perfect lines.
    – Wolff
    Sep 7 at 18:59
  • No what I meant is that it is a picture of type, and after the picture is taken it was digitally highlighted. If it was highlighted before it was printed it would look different. If you compare the position of the quotes relative to the markings you can see how it does not match as you would expect from a 'font background' like it for instance exists in rectangular form in MS-Word Sep 7 at 19:38
  • I don't think it's really possible to answer "where this trend comes from". I just think it's interesting how some methods emerge. You want to give highlighting a realistic look. But even if you make the lines wobbly the square line caps keep looking digital. So you make the caps rounded and the illusion is somehow better - even though it's further from reality.
    – Wolff
    Sep 7 at 19:46
  • If I recall correctly photoshop changed vector rectangle shapes at some point to be more like in Illustrator (instead of some option in a dialog window) and with that much easier to use. That might have helped this trend emerge – but maybe I just noticed this a few years ago and it always was like this... Sep 7 at 19:53

You can apply a style like this with InDesign, if that was the question.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.