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How to outline text in Photoshop

Among the most useful and effective tools Photoshop offers for enhancing text is its Stroke feature, which you can use to apply an outline border to text inserted within your image. This can provide an added emphasis to certain elements of your image, such as directional instructions, numbers, logos, etc.

Let's take a look at how to outline text in Photoshop.

Difficulty

Easy

Duration

5 minutes

What You Need

  • Adobe Photoshop

  • PC

Outlining text in Photoshop with Stroke

Step 1: Open the image where you’ll insert the text you want to be outlined. Next, insert text into the image by selecting the T tool, which can be found in the sidebar where all the primary Photoshop tools are based.

Alternatively, if you’re creating an image from scratch where there’ll be no background picture, then you can simply insert just text. Choose the background color of your choice or leave it transparent.

The Type tool in Photoshop.

Step 2: Once you’ve added the text, click the Layer tab > Layer style > Stroke.

Another way to open the Stroke window is to click the layer that’s associated with the text you’ve inserted, and then click the small FX icon > Stroke.

The Stroke tab in Photoshop located within Layer and Layer Style.

Step 3: The Stroke window provides several customization options when it comes to outlining text. You can adjust each field to a setting that you’re satisfied with. These include:

Size: This is the most important customization tool within Stroke as it determines how large the border itself will be. You don’t want to set it too high as it’ll overwhelm your text. In any case, either use the slider or enter a specific value in the adjacent box. Conveniently, once you do, Photoshop will preview the change live.

Position: You can choose from the following: Outside, Inside, and Center. In the image seen below, I've used Outside.

Blend Mode: This field offers a wide range of options that can effectively transform the text’s appearance.

Opacity: This will determine how transparent the outline border will be. By default, it’s set at 100%, but reducing it to a lower value could be a better fit for your text.

Fill Type: The final section is related to how the inside of the outline looks like. It’s already set to Color, but you can also choose from the Gradient and Pattern options. For example, a red or black color fill for the outline generally complements white text.

Ultimately, when it comes to hitting the right balance in terms of applying an outline to your text that enhances its appearance, it all comes down to trial and error. Photoshop supplies more than enough tools within Stroke, so play around with the above options until you find a fit that works.

The Stroke window in Photoshop with all the customisation options related to adding an outline to text.

Step 4: Once you’re happy with your Stroke choices, click OK.

For demonstration purposes for the image below, we have included three layers of text so you can see the differences: The first one at the top was made with the Text tool, while the text layers underneath have a standard outline with Color fill and Pattern applied to them.

Different outline styles via the Stroke tool in Photoshop.

How do you outline a shape in Photoshop?

In the same way we applied an outline to text within Photoshop, you can also add an outline to shapes.

For this example, I've inserted a common arrow shape into an existing image. It's already red but adding an outline can make it appear even more prominent and generally just make it look better compared to the lack of having a border on the shape.

Step 1: Select your shape within the Layers section. Click the Layer tab > Layer style > Stroke.

Adding an outline to a shape in Photoshop.

Step 2: Repeat the process we explained in the previous section. I have added a white outline.

As you can see, it looks markedly different than how it would without the outline.

To highlight the difference in the different Position settings, the other arrow underneath the first one has been set to Inside.

Two shapes with an Outside and Inside Position outline applied to them in Photoshop.

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