6 Ways To Keep Text Legible On A Busy Photo - Learn Blog Photography

6 Ways To Keep Text Legible On A Busy Photo

By Amy

Feb 01

Don't give up on a busy photo

An image is worth 1,000 words.


But sometimes, it is not about the image talking, but about supporting your text.

text legible

The Obvious Method to Keep Text Legible

You might use a featured image for a blog post, or add a quote.

Those are situations when text will have to be used on photos.

Since you want the text to be legible, what can you do?

There are a few ways to help your reader read the words without having to squint.

The obvious method

If you have some large uncluttered space on your photo, that would likely be the easiest way to add text in negative space as mentioned in this post.

While choosing a contrasting color and a simple font, this is the most obvious way to add text to your image.

Unfortunately, it is not always that simple and sometimes, you need to use other strategies.

text legibile

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The Not So Obvious Ways to Keeping Text Legible

Create additional space

Sometimes, you don’t have an image with negative space already so there isn’t any area large enough to accommodate your text.

What can you do?

This might require some more creative work, and often some editing in a graphic program.

Depending on the software you are using, you can clone another area to make more “empty” space, or add some solid color on a larger surface to allow you to add your text.

text legible
text legible

Even busy photos can be used as your blog's feature image. Find out how to transform it! http://wp.me/p7IY3K-j2

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Add an overlay

Although it might not be the most obvious strategy to add text, especially if we want to showcase great photos, we have to remember that if text is needed on a busy photo, one will overpower the other; will it be the text or the image?

If you want the text to be read, you have to give less weight to the photo.

Depending on the graphic program you are using, you can add a layer between the photo and the text, fill it with a color (often white but not always) and adjust the opacity to your liking.

text legible
text legible

Add a ribbon

If you don’t want to fade the entire photo, you can use only a rectangle that will include the text, while leaving the rest of the image intact.

text legible
text legible

Outline your text

Most graphic programs will allow you to add an outline to your text that will contrast from the background.

If you still want to have your text on a busy image but don’t want to add an overlay, you can add a shadow behind your text.

The color of the shadow will need to be contrasting with the text color.

text legible
text legible

Add a shadow

Adding an outline might not always work well, especially if you have a lot of text.

That outline would make the text a bit “busy”, which is not something you want if you already have a busy background.

Adding a regular shadow can create a separation between the text and the photo.

A light shadow will make dark text stand out, and vice versa.

text legible

Add a glow

A shadow will likely appear on one side of the text which might be insufficient in some instances.

If you add a glow to the text, it would have the same effect as a shadow but all around it.

If your graphic program does not have a glow option, you can always duplicate your layer, turn the bottom one to white and add a blur to it.

The exact settings will depend on various factors like the color of the image, the size of the text, etc.

text legible

What approach is the best?

It will all depend on the photo you want to use, the text you need to add ad the colors of both of those elements.

Sometimes, you will use one technique, and other times you will use a different one.

At least, you have now a toolbox full of tips that you can mix and match as needed.

text legible

Carole is an avid Paintshop Pro user who specializes in basic photo editing, and digital scrapbooking. She has taught digital scrapbooking online and in person to hundreds of users. Over the years she has written hundreds of tutorials and is the owner of the Scrapbook Campus where she has multimedia tutorials and classes.

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About the Author

Amy is the owner extraordinaire at Learn Blog Photography and Amy Paris Photography. She's a single mom to an amazing teenage son. She's passionate about photography and skiing (downhill), the faster the better! Sign up for a FREE 30-min call to light up your photos & biz! bit.ly/2udzBXB