Adding text to your images can make an amazing difference to your images. It can help add that extra pizazz that was perhaps lacking before. It is also great for gaining the attention of readers.
Why? They often look at the image first, it’s only natural right. And if it contains the blog title too….they could even click straight through.
You may have also have noticed that social media sites are showing our blog images too! And with sites such as Pinterest growing like crazy – visuals are queen! (content is king of course).
Knowing how to approach this is the key. Sure you can just bung on some text using a simple and stunning (*cough*) Arial font, with a crazy beige font color! Wow. Blow me away!! Sorry for the sarcasm. But we are competing for people’s attention here. It is the year 2013. There are millions of blogs, and social media posts.
So why should people click on yours? The following are some relatively simple techniques I have learnt by doing a few courses, and observing what works on sites like Pinterest. I will first explain the techniques, then show you how I do it using a couple of image editing tools. Hold on to your car keys……..this is gonna be a fun ride.
Chalk and cheese fonts
One way to stand out is to choose at least two very different fonts for the text in your image. This will attract the reader’s attention like a magnet to the key words in the image. For example you can use a handwriting style font and an all caps or (Sans Serif) one.
This makes for a stylish look as well as focusing on the important words. Another common thing to do is highlight just one word using a separate font completely. This is often done when focusing on a specific topic or known term. However, as you know – there are no rules. Just make it appealing, and legible of course. The rest is up to you.
Be Brave with color
Another option or addition to the two fonts rule is to vary the colors. The main thing here is to choose colors that stand out against the background. This will depend on the dominant color or shade (light vs dark) in the image and where you are placing the text.
I cannot give you anything more specific than that. But there are some examples of mine further down in this post for your viewing pleasure (they will also give you some ideas). If you have a dark background for example, you can use white or light colors for your text. Conversely, you can use black or darker colors on a light background.
Make sure you can read the words on the background, otherwise it is a pointless exercise. I am also assuming here that you are good with choosing matching colors, something that most of us are not born with. I even have a friend who is a color consultant – yes, it is so difficult there is a job for it. So don’t be ashamed if you are not good at it. It comes with practice!
To help you, here is a tool you can use to get some ideas of what colors will work on your image. It provides you with some color palette suggestions and highlights the dominant colors in your image (including the css codes).Have a play with it if you are not confident in your color choices, it really does help.
Take a hammer to the text
Although you may have an amazing title for your post, you can make it even better by focusing on the key words. This is done by breaking up your text. The first thing you need to consider is – do I have enough space on my image. If you do not, then you need a slightly shorter version of your title. Another option is to add the text above and below the image. Next you need to decide what are the key words in the title you want to emphasize and highlight on the image. For example recently I used this title for a post:
Is Pinterest just for chicks?
I broke the sentence up into two parts “Is Pinterest” and “just for chicks” because I wanted to emphasize “just for chicks”. I also added the text above and below in white boxes using Powerpoint, because there was not enough space on the image. Another recent example I had was
6 Ways to reduce your bounce rate
Here I chose to highlight “reduce” and “bounce rate” because these were the main words I wanted the reader to focus on. That there were 6 ways, and that it is your bounce rate is not so important as “reduce bounce rate”. How you break up your text is really up to you, but I wanted to give you an idea of the kinds of thought processes I go through.
Putting it all together
When I have the title ready, I follow these steps before adding the text:
- Break the text up to focus on key words
- Separate lines if possible for each part
- Consider where each part will fit on the image
- Choose the two fonts (or more) you want
- Use the clearest or coolest font for the focus words
- Choose one color per font
To give you a taste of what is possible, here are six of my recent posts where I have applied these techniques.
Ok, but how do you add text?
There are a whole bunch of options when it comes to image tools, so I won’t go into them all. What I will do however, is show you the two tools I use and how to add text to your images.
Online and fast with Pixlr
If you are looking to get the job done fast, then online is your best bet. Using either Pixlr Express or Picmonkey you can add text to uploaded images quickly and easily. I have a preference for Pixlr, although Picmonkey is almost as good. The major difference in my eyes is that you get more options (fonts, effects etc) for free with Pixlr.
The following steps assume you have a final image. What do I mean by that? Any cropping, color or contrast changes etc have already been applied. If you need some help with doing that, refer to my previous detailed post on the topic. Resizing can be left until last because it is better to work with a larger, high quality image until the very end.
Adding text to your image
With Pixlr Express the text fonts are broken up into groups. This makes it a little easier to choose your contrasting font types. The following image shows the font groups available in Pixlr:
To choose a font simply click on the Text (bottom right) > Font Group (Dotted, Grunge, Handwritten etc). The text editing options will then appear and you can choose the specific font from the menu that appears, like in the example below.
Then proceed to add your text and apply all the settings you need:
- Type your text where it says “type text here” and a text box will appear on the screen
- Move it to where you want it (click and drag)
- Resize it with the dots (there is no specific resize option in the menu)
- Define the color via the color menu and the funky color picker
- If you want to rotate it, use the top center dot – then your text will be at whatever angle you leave it at
- If you are placing your text on a specific side or top/bottom you might want to align it with the alignment buttons (below the font)
You can add separate lines of text by hitting enter in the text box as you type. This way all your text will line up with the alignment option you have chosen. This is useful for text on one side of the image, or the top/bottom. **Note: Be aware that after adding each text block you cannot re-edit them. You can use undo )top right) to remove them one by one though. Once your text is complete:
- Resize your image to your final size
- Press save (top left)
- Choose the compression you want and save
** Remember the more you compress the lower the quality – I go down to 60% max. You will notice the benefits drop after that. Voila, you have a completed image with text!
Offline and sexier with Powerpoint
Although online tools will usually get the job done, some images do require a bit more work when adding text. So if I need a little bit more help and options, I use Powerpoint. ** Keynote on Mac and Open Office’s Impress should also have the same capabilities. Why do we need to go offline when Pixlr (and other online tools) provide exactly what we need?
- Sometimes we need to add a background or shadow to our text
- Other times you might want a specific font
Using specific fonts
I will just cover this quickly because it is not the focus of this post. Adding cool fonts to Powerpoint can really add to your image. It is quite a task to find these fonts, and to choose fonts that match each other. However, if this is something you want to do – read on. You can find free fonts on sites like Font Squirrel.
Once you have the font you need to add it to Powerpoint. It took me a while, but I eventually found out that this is actually done by adding it to the system fonts – it then appears in Powerpoint’s font list automatically. If you are not up to speed on how to add fonts to windows here is the how to from Microsoft.
Adding the text
At this stage you want the final version of the image – as I mentioned with onilne tools, all cropping and color/contrast changes must be complete. You should also have already decided how you want to break up and color your text (as described in “Putting it all together” above). With Powerpoint open, first you need to
- Add the image via Insert menu > Picture
- Move the image to the top left of the slide
- Drag the bottom left corner until the entire slide is covered
Now you will see how it looks in the slide preview panel (far left). Some of the image may not appear on the slide if the image proportions do not match powerpoint’s preferred slide size. If you want to correct this you can move the image by grabbing it on the border and dragging it around. Another option is to ignore this and save it with a screen grabber as I will mention again later. To add your text follow these steps:
- Click on the add text box (as shown in the image below)
- Choose the font you want
- Choose the font size
- Type in the text
- Decide if you want right/left/center alignment
- Move / adjust the box
These steps should be repeated for each text block you use. Unlike with Pixlr online, you can re-edit and move the text blocks at any time. ** It is possible to put all the text within one block, which is then easier to move around and align. I do not do it this way because often the different fonts are spaced out too far apart, or not exactly where I want them.
Pimping your text blocks
With Powerpoint you have, and sometimes need, a few more options. That is why we are here right! The two main options I use are adding background color to the text box, and adding shadows to the text itself.
Add a background color to the text
If you have a background that is hard to see the text against, you can add a background color and opacity to the text box. (Without opacity you won’t see the image anymore!) First you need to click on your text box, then on the Home Menu > Shape fill > More Fill Colors (see image below):
Then the color popup will appear and you either add black (on a too light background) or white (a too dark background) and then tweak the opacity/transparency via the popup (transparency highlighted in the image) . I normally use something in the range of 60-70%, but it is very image dependent.
Add shadows to the text
Another option to add that extra “Pow” to your text, is to give the text a shadow. I do this when it looks a bit “flat” or if I want to highlight some text even more. This is quite simple to do in Powerpoint. From the Home Menu > Shape Effects > Shadow (see image below). I then choose the first shadow type which puts it at the bottom and right.
Saving the image
Powerpoint makes this quite simple. In the Save As dialog you have the option to save as an image (jpeg or png). The other option I use is a screen grabber tool like SnagIt. Then you can save your image without the limitations of Powerpoint’s slide sizes by just capturing the whole image on screen. You might want to compress it in Pixlr afterward saving with these methods because the file sizes can be quite large and the image size probably not what you need.
By now you probably need a coffee, I know I do! I just want to quickly summarize what we have covered.
Adding text to images for whatever purpose (adding a title to your blog post, making your image more Pinterest-worthy, or just for slideshare slides) can really make a difference.
All you need is a couple of contrasting fonts and colors to focus on key words in your title.
Then using either online tools like Pixlr (simple and fast) or offline tools like Powerpoint (more options and sexier) you can quickly add the text.
Related reading – The Blogger’s Guide To Optimizing Images For The Web.