How to Change Opacity in InDesign

InDesign has a wide variety of impressive features to help your project stand out. One popular technique is adjusting the opacity of your text or graphics. In this walkthrough, we've shared the basics of how to change opacity in InDesign. 

What is Opacity?
Often referred to as “transparency” in print design, opacity is the level of light allowed to travel through an object. Adjusting opacity allows you to fade, blend, brighten, or layer within a project. 

By default, a graphic or text will appear solid, with an opacity of 100%. From there, you can change the percentage to make the object appear fully opaque (100%), fully transparent (0%), or somewhere in between.  

Using the Effects Panel
For this technique, you will need to harness the Effects panel. To access the panel, choose "Window" > "Effects" from the main menu. Here, you can adjust a wide range of transparency effects, including: 

  • Blending Mode: Adjusts how an object's colors blend with other objects.
  • Opacity: Changes the object, stroke, fill, or text transparency. 
  • Level: Opacity settings for the Object, Stroke, Fill, or Text. 
  • Isolate Blending: Applies blending to an object group.
  • Knockout Group: “Knocks out” or “blocks out” underlying objects, based on the opacity and blending settings. 
  • Clear All: Clears any effects placed on an object, and reverts the blend mode to Normal. 
  • FX: Shows a list of all transparency effects. 

How to Change Opacity in InDesign
1. First, open your document in InDesign. Select an object. 

2. Make sure you have the Effects panel open. The simplest way to change Opacity is to enter a percentage anywhere from 100% to 0% in the Effects panel. However, you can also use the Effects panel to adjust multiple levels with finer detail. 

3. Adjust the levels of the object you wish to change:

  1. Object: Changes the entire object, including the stroke, fill, and text. 
  2. Graphic: Affects a graphic selected using the Direct Selection tool. 
  3. Group: Affects a group selected using the Direct Selection tool. 
  4. Stroke: Only affects an object's Stroke.
  5. Fill: Only affects an object's Fill.
  6. Text: Changes the text inside an object, but not the text frame. 

4. Next, open the Effects dialog box by clicking the FX button in the Effects panel (or Control panel). Choose an effect from the menu displayed. 

5. Finally, select options and settings for the transparency effect (such as Opacity and Blending Mode). Click OK to apply the effect. 

Ultimately, there are a wide range of opacity options in InDesign's Effects panel. We suggest you try a few different effects on an object, observe the results, and find an approach that works for your layout. 

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