I'm familiar with two methods for creating "highlighted" text in InDesign - Paragraph Shading and Paragraph Rules. Is there a way to add transparency to either?

In the image below, I have some text with a blue background. I'd like for the blue to have about 90% opacity, so you can see some of the underlaying image.


EDIT I tried enabling Overprint and reducing the Tint, before I even asked, but the effect is not the same as in Ryan's answer below.


And this is WITH Overprint Preview enabled...


Hmmm...I was tinkering and noticed that if I use a different color for my shading, it works. I don't want this color though


I suppose I will keep messing with this until I figure out what my issue is.

  • 2
    Turn on overprint and reduce the color to a tint maybe.
    – Scott
    Nov 3, 2015 at 18:10
  • @Scott I tried that and it does not produce the result that it seems to for Ryan in his answer below. I'll edit my question to show you what I mean.
    – Manly
    Nov 3, 2015 at 18:37
  • You need to enable Overprint Preview. View -> Overprint Preview
    – Ryan
    Nov 3, 2015 at 18:41

3 Answers 3


Use Tint and Overprint. Be sure to also go to View and activate Overprint Preview


enter image description here

  • This does seem to work but the result seems as if you were using the "color blend mode" in Photoshop. Interesting but I guess it all depends on the look you want.
    – ErickP
    Nov 3, 2015 at 18:34
  • I made an edit to my question. I tried this before I even asked, but this isn't working for me.
    – Manly
    Nov 3, 2015 at 18:39
  • @JohnManly turn on Overprint Preview. View -> Overprint Preview
    – Ryan
    Nov 3, 2015 at 18:40
  • I can't get it to export with that transparency. Tried copying into photoshop and exporting as PDF and that transparency becomes solid.
    – ErickP
    Nov 3, 2015 at 18:42
  • @Ryan it doesn't work even with it enabled.
    – Manly
    Nov 3, 2015 at 18:43

You would think it be easy or an obvious option. Perhaps they will add it in at some point. For now, I found this article that might help.


Another option:

The only other way that I know how to accomplish this is by creating duplicate paragraph styles. The first paragraph style will have the shading turned on and both the color of the text and shading should be the same. Result is a solid block of color. At the point, select that text box and copy. Then under FX panel lower opacity to desired percentage. Now “Paste In Place” and this will put a copy of the text box on top. You will now create a copy of that first paragraph style and apply it to that text box you just pasted. In the settings of the second paragraph style just turn off the “shading” and change the color of the text to whatever color. Sucky work around but it works.


I have done this without using paragraph shading (it's a new feature in CC 2015)

  1. Add a fill color to your text frame

  2. Object > effects > transparency

  3. Settings for: Object > Settings for: Fill

  4. Change the opacity to whatever you like. This will affect the frame, but NOT the text, which is the desired result.

  5. Your text will be flush against frame. If you would like to change it:

  6. right click, text frame options, adjust inset spacing as you like.

I used the pen tool to add anchor points and adjust the text frame to the line length.

Result: enter image description here

  • The only problem that I see with this is that I would then need to edit the shape of the text frame, so make it match the jagged lines of text. For a document that I am making several copies of, each with different text in this location, this is way too time consuming. Also, even though It's not visible in my screen shots, my final design has a small gap between each line, similar to this which wouldn't be possible with your method.
    – Manly
    Nov 4, 2015 at 14:36
  • Hi John, Is it possible to do steps 2-4 on a paragraph made with the paragraph shading feature? The method I wrote works for the style you linked to; just copy and paste the whole frame for each "line", and adjust them as you see fit. Hopefully this is helpful.
    – rangi
    Nov 5, 2015 at 5:16
  • Nah, it alters the transparency of the text and the shading together, as one, because the shading is part of the text. I'm just going to leave it the way I have it now, with no transparency.
    – Manly
    Nov 5, 2015 at 19:33

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