Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Word 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Word, click here: Creating See-Through Text Boxes.

Creating See-through Text Boxes

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated August 21, 2021)
This tip applies to Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003


Word allows you to create text boxes in your document. These can be used to create special document elements, such as sidebars or boxed text. There may be times when you want the text box to be transparent, meaning that whatever is behind the text box shows through. There are two ways you can handle this: you can either make the text box partially transparent or make it fully transparent. To control the transparency, follow these steps:

  1. Place your text box, as normal.
  2. Right-click on the text box. Word displays a Context menu.
  3. Choose Format Text Box from the Context menu. Word displays the Format Text Box dialog box.
  4. Make sure the Colors and Lines tab is selected. (See Figure 1.)
  5. Figure 1. The Colors and Lines tab of the Format Text Box dialog box.

  6. Click the Semitransparent check box if you want a "ghost image" of what is behind the text box to show through.
  7. If you want the text box to be fully transparent, use the Color setting in the Fill area to choose No Fill.
  8. Display the Layout tab. (See Figure 2.) (In Word 97 it is the Wrapping tab).
  9. Figure 2. The Layout tab of the Format Text Box dialog box.

  10. Make sure the wrapping style is set to None or In Front of Text.
  11. Click on OK.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (609) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Word (Word 2007 and later) here: Creating See-Through Text Boxes.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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