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10 Clever Tricks for Adding Text to Images

by Adam Noar

When you are creating a PowerPoint presentation and want it to look as snazzy as possible, there is a lot you can do to make your slides shine with the brightness and glory of a thousand suns. You can add beautiful background textures, have perfectly complimentary fonts, or avoid the hassle of doing it yourself and just buy a ready-made template from the get-go. Even so, if you are not careful your text can look boring. Another way to make your presentation slides look spiffy (and certainly not boring) is to change up the way you add text to a picture. Here are ten clever and easy to implement presentation design tips for mixing up your text display and maximizing your PowerPoint potential.

1. Add Some Perspective

Sometimes it can be a good idea to play around with the perspective in your slide—keeping your text front and center in the foreground all the time can get a bit stale. A great way to change up the monotony is to set the text so that it appears to be receding backwards into the image, Star Wars opening-credits style. Especially in this image you can see how, with such a strong line receding into the distance—everything from both rows of pine trees to the road moving straight into the background—it is basically a no-brainer to tilt the text backwards to compliment the overall thrust of the photo itself. Don’t forget that you can go in the other direction and change up the perspective so that the text appears to be coming out at your views like in a 3D movie.

2. Make the Text Part of the Scene

I swear I’m not a forest hermit or something—I really like this first image because it is a perfect example of integrating your display text into the scene of the image you’re using.

In this image example you see a slightly different version to this same approach. This time, the display text is manipulated to conform to the contours of the mountain that is the focal point of the image, creating a clear tie-in between the image itself and the idea being expressed. It’s a great concept and in theory should not be too hard to mess up, unless you overthink it. This cool PowerPoint text effect is a brilliant way to get your audience’s attention and help them better understand the talking point you might have in a slide, because rather than separating the idea from the picture, you make those two components into the same thing.

3. Add Icons for Emphasis

Sometimes the best way to get your point across is to add simple, preferably flat-designed icons to your presentation slides. It goes without saying that if you do use an icon or vector, make sure that it compliments your image. In this case I took a photo of a mysteriously misty lake and forest (OK, maybe I am actually a forest hermit) and added a cool looking wolf icon that for obvious reasons compliments not only the display text, but also the image. When you add an icon to your presentation slide you have the opportunity to reinforce the message you are trying to send to your audience (like building a blazing campfire in the woods) without having to rely solely on words.

4. Go Big

Size matters (at least when it comes to the size of your display text). Sometimes you do not have to do anything else to an image to make it stand out other than smack some size 225 font text on that puppy and let it do all the talking. A few caveats to this tip, however: if you do decide to go for some XXL-sized display text, pick a font that will look good doing it. Notice that I used Bebas Neue, a no-nonsense font that is easy to read while big or small. If you go big, there is really no reason to use a fancypants font. Another tip to keep in mind is that you should make sure that the image you match it up with is not too cluttered, visually, if you use a mega-sized display text. Keep the compositional clutter to a minimum so that your huge words have less commotion going on in the background—that way you can really maximize the effect.

5. Combine 2-3 Different Font Sizes

Playing off the concept of using ultra-sized fonts, another great way to create eye-catching visuals with your display text is to mix up the size of your text. As you can see, this technique looks great and is quite effective at drawing your attention to the bigger, more significant keywords in the text. To optimize the visual impact of this sort of display, it probably is best to have a longer phrase with anywhere from 5 to 12 words in them, that way you can vary the font size in sizeable chunks of words. Did you notice that I applied the same text effect in tip #2 to make the words part of the scene? It looks as though the woman in the picture is reading the words on the slide.

6. Be Bold with Keywords

As you know by now, it is very important to be concise with the text you use on presentation slides, because no one wants to hear you reading an essay during a PowerPoint presentation. So when you create display text for a slide, it should already be pared down to the essentials. A useful method for conveying the most prominent information to your readers is to highlight keywords in your image. There are a few ways to pull this off. The first one, as mentioned before, is to draw attention to the most significant words in the text by making them significantly larger than the other words in the text.

As you can see in the image example, the keyword “definitely” dwarfs the rest of the text. It also helps that is placed front and center in the middle of the image—you just can’t miss it. This is a good example of not relying just on increasing font size, but also playing around with more eye-popping fonts or using bold typeface or italics to draw your audience’s attention. And always try to select font colors that, like in both these cases, especially pop out in contrast to the image color scheme.

7. Play with Orientation

The orientation, or angle at which you present your text, is another variable at your control when you are designing effective display text for your presentation slides. You can achieve all sorts of different effects by playing with the orientation of the words.
As you can see in the image I made the display text appear more whimsical. Here the orientation fits into a cohesive scheme, as it compliments the loopy, cursive font choice (a great example of being bold with keywords) and the quirky, swooshing curlicue that finishes extravagantly beneath the text. It is a great example of how you can shift the orientation of the text, but also other elements in the image to create a balanced composition and a beautiful slide.

8. Add Shapes for Emphasis

Especially if you are using a bright, catchy image background it can sometimes be difficult to make your display text stand out. While making the font really big is one solution, this detracts from the image itself, and you probably do not want to resort to using overly flashy colors of font styles (again, with exceptions) to highlight your text. Instead, a perfect solution to creating instant contrast and drawing attention to your words is to add semi-transparent shapes as background filler behind your display text.
In the example image, not only are the words in the display text superimposed over a circle, but then a series of dotted concentric circles accompanies it, with the circles fading into ever gentler shades as they radiate outwards from the words. Using a dark, simple shape to slip in between a white-dominated image and the light font color is an elegant solution to creating contrast and maximizing visual balance between the image and the display text.

9. Stack your Text Into an Invisible Shape

A particularly clever arrangement involves grouping the display text into an invisible shape in contrast to whatever is in the image background. The effect works best with a good number of words, and acts as a compositional foil to the tangible image that is presented with it. In the case of this example, the display text is shaped into a vertical rectangle in front of a jagged mountain peak, with swirling clouds filling in the foreground. Ideally you would shape your words in a way that compliments the message. Here, “life begins outside your comfort zone” is compressed into an invisible box, with the wild scenery in the background implying that life is metaphorically just beyond the comfort zone written in words. Get creative with your words and try this the next time you want to add an extra, implicit layer of meaning to your presentation slides.

10. Combine Light and Bold Fonts Together for Impact

The last tip I have to share with you is combining light and bold fonts together to highlight your most important ideas. Uniform fonts are a little bit dull, so adding boldface to your font or choosing one font that is narrow and another one that tends to be on the thick side is a great way to create visual impact. For this to work best, you do need to make sure that the color saturation and contrast of the image you use does not interfere visually in places where your display text overlaps, because thin fonts will stand out in different ways from bold fonts.


Coming up with better ways to display text in your slide presentations doesn’t have to be rocket science, but as you can see it is a very effective and ultimately enjoyable task. With the right application you can design beautiful, varied text that brings your slideshow to another level.

If you follow any of these ten cool text effects your presentations will no doubt look spectacular! Don’t forget that if you are still not sure what sort of text looks good, you can consult some of our other articles here on Presentation Panda to make sure that you have the best presentation possible.

So, here’s my question for you: Are there any other methods you use for adding text to a picture? Any other tricks that I missed? Let me know what you think below and please try to be as specific as possible. Sound off in the comments below!

Lastly, do you have a friend that could benefit from learning about these presentation design tips? If so, email them the link to this post.

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Hungry for more information on how to add text to images? Here are some suggested articles:

5 Methods For “Overlaying Text On Images” That Will Surely Impress A Crowd

5 Presentation Font Trends For 2015

10 Tips For Selecting Images For Your Presentations

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