How to Make a Shape Transparent in PowerPoint | 2010,2016,2019,Office 365 | Step-by-Step

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How to make a shape transparent in PowerPoint? It is one of those questions that seems so simple, but still, it is a question that I get very often.

Merely giving a shape or object a transparent effect is not that difficult. If, on the other hand, you want to make an image or a picture transparent, it becomes a bit trickier.

The focus of this article will be on how to make shapes and objects transparent, but we will also go into how to give your images and pictures a transparent effect to get the effect you want. With pros and cons of using the different methods.

Below is a summary of the three methods you will learn in this article. Jump down to see more in-depth info and screenshots about the techniques and tips so that you can master these effects!

Make a Shape Transparent

  1. Insert a shape
  2. Format Shape
  3. Select Solid Fill
  4. Adjust Transparency

Make an image Transparent (Pre) PowerPoint 2019/Office 365

  1. Insert background image
  2. Insert Rectangular Shape
  3. Cover the background image with the shape
  4. Choose the appropriate color for your shape
  5. Format Shape
  6. Adjust Transparency

Make an image Transparent in PowerPoint 2019/Office 365

  1. Insert the image you want to make transparent
  2. Select the image, and navigate to the Picture Tools Format Tab
  3. Open up the new Transparency Tool
  4. Choose the degree of transparency you want to give your image.

Why make shapes and images transparent?

There are a lot of reasons why you want to make a shape transparent in PowerPoint. I usually use transparent shapes when I want to “tone down” an image that stands out a little too much. I also think it’s nice to have transparent shapes behind text when doing intro slides (like the image below). It is also an effective way to fade out some parts of a figure or an illustration.

Make a Shape Transparent in PowerPoint. Example shows text over a color fill and transparency applied to a picture with text of picture with dogs in the background.
Example shows text over a color fill with transparency applied to enable text easy to read.

How to Make a Shape Transparent

Okay, now let me tell you how to make a shape transparent in PowerPoint. It’s not at all difficult; all you have to do is follow the steps below. Briefly, these are the four steps you need to take to make a shape transparent, I describe these steps in more detail below.

1. Insert a shape

Insert a shape by navigating to Insert and then Shapes. Choose the shape you want to use and place it on your slide.

Step 1 screenshot - In PowerPoint, choose insert menu, select shapes - yourslidebuddy.com

2. Format Shape

Now right-click on the shape you just placed, and select Format Shape at the bottom. You have now got a new menu on the right called Format Shape.

3. Select Solid Fill

In this menu, click Fill, and select Solid fill if it is not already selected.

Step 3 - In format shape window under the fill option, solid fill radio button is active - yourslidebuddy.com

4. Adjust Transparency

At the bottom of the Fill menu, you will find Transparency. Adjust this control until you have the desired effect.

Step 4 - In format shape window, move transparency slider bar to the right to desired level or enter percentage amount - yourslidebuddy.com

Congratulations! You now have a somewhat transparent shape.

Historically, the transparency attribute has not applied to images.

Many times it can be useful to have an image as a background, but often it can be challenging to add a layer of text on such a background as the text becomes difficult to distinguish.

However, by making the image slightly transparent, this problem can be solved relatively easily.

I will guide you through two different methods.

One is very simple, but can only be used by those with PowerPoint 2019 with an Office 365 subscription.

The second method is for us others who have previous versions (PowerPoint 2010, PowerPoint 2013, PowerPoint 2016) , which is probably the majority. So let’s start with this method.

How to Make an image Transparent (Pre) PowerPoint 2019/Office 365

This method involves some steps that I described in: how to make a shape transparent in PowerPoint.

We will use just a transparent shape to achieve the desired effect. The method consists of several steps, which we will go deeper into further down.

1. Insert background image

To start by inserting the image you want to use as a background, I usually use royalty-free images and photos from pexels.com. You can either find the image you wish to use, right-click it and copy and then paste directly into PowerPoint. Alternatively, you can right-click on the image, save it locally and then navigate to Insert, and Pictures, to insert your image.

Image of New York City used as the background image - yourslidebuddy.com

2. Insert Rectangular Shape

Once you’ve placed your background image to cover the entire slide, it’s time to make it transparent.

Intuitively, you probably want to right-click and use Format Shape, as we did in the tutorial of how to make a shape transparent in PowerPoint, but unfortunately, it is not possible. Instead, insert a rectangular shape. Navigate to Insert, Shapes, and then select Rectangle.

We have inserted a rectangular shape which covers a section of the New York City image.

3. Cover the background image with the shape

Once you have inserted your shape, change the dimensions to cover your entire background image. You probably start to know what to do next.

Change the dimensions of the shape so that it covers your entire background image.

4. Choose the appropriate color for your shape

What color to give your picture is depends on the effect you are after.

Usually, it is most appropriate to use a white filling because the transparent effect becomes more neutral then.

However, sometimes, it can be neat to give the shape darker tones like dark blue or black.

For example, if you have a red theme in your presentation, it might be nice to provide the shape with a red fill.

Here you can allow yourself to be a little creative.

5. Format Shape

Now right-click on the shape you just placed, and select Format Shape at the bottom. You have now got a new menu on the right called Format Shape.

6. Adjust Transparency

At the bottom of the Fill menu, you will find Transparency.

Adjust this control until you have the desired effect.

Now you have created a beautiful transparent background image.

The method is not entirely straightforward but works very well. One of the significant advantages is the creative freedom you get in giving your transparency a new color.

The next method to make an image transparent is much smoother, but as I said, works just for you with PowerPoint 2019 and/or Office 365

PRO TIP! If you want to learn how to wrap the text shown in the image above, you can learn exactly that in this step-by-step tutorial on how to wrap text in PowerPoint.

How to Make an image Transparent in PowerPoint 2019/Office 365

How to make a shape transparent in PowerPoint is a question we have answered earlier in this article, but a relevant follow-up question is how to make an image transparent.

I have already provided a proposal that works for all PowerPoint users.

The method I’m going to present now only works for you who have PowerPoint 2019 with an Office 365 subscription.

It is now super easy to make images transparent in PowerPoint.

The method consists of some steps, which are so simple that I will not explain every step in detail.

The process for making images transparent in PowerPoint 2019/Office 365 is as follows:

  1. Insert the image you want to make transparent
  2. Select the image, and navigate to the Picture Tools Format Tab
  3. Open up the new Transparency Tool
  4. Choose the degree of transparency you want to give your image.

There you go! It is not more complicated than that to male a regular image or background image transparent in the latest version of PowerPoint.

However, this tool is still limited. For example, you cannot choose to give your effect a particular color tone. If you want to achieve the color effect, you can, of course, apply the first method I went through, even if you have Office 365.

Another useful way to inject some life into your PowerPoint presentation is to build a word cloud. In this step-by-step tutorial on word clouds in PowerPoint you will learn exactly that.

Summary

In this article, you have learned how to make a shape transparent in PowerPoint.

Also, I have dealt with two related topics, how to make an image transparent.

We found that there are two different methods for this, one of which is exclusive to you with PowerPoint 2019 or an Office 365 subscription.

However, the good news is that the more flexible method that allows you to give your transparency, a color effect can be applied in all versions of PowerPoint.

In summary, the methods involve the following steps:

Make a Shape Transparent

  1. Insert a shape
  2. Format Shape
  3. Select Solid Fill
  4. Adjust Transparency
How to Make a Shape Transparent in PowerPoint

Make an image Transparent (Pre) PowerPoint 2019/Office 365 – (versions PowerPoint 2010, PowerPoint 2013, PowerPoint 2016)

  1. Insert background image
  2. Insert Rectangular Shape
  3. Cover the background image with the shape
  4. Choose the appropriate color for your shape
  5. Format Shape
  6. Adjust Transparency
In PowerPoint text in a colour is overlaid a semi-transparent picture of New York City in the background.

Make an image Transparent in PowerPoint 2019/Office 365

  1. Insert the image you want to make transparent
  2. Select the image, and navigate to the Picture Tools Format Tab
  3. Open up the new Transparency Tool
  4. Choose the degree of transparency you want to give your image.

Final final sign off!

How to make a shape transparent in PowerPoint is a topic that is relatively easy to process. However, it is not entirely obvious how you should go about making images transparent in PowerPoint, which I dealt with as a bonus. I hope you liked this article and that you have learned something new. As usual, if you have any questions or concerns, you are welcome to contact me.

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