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(Last updated on January 9th, 2023)

It’s important to make sure text in Photoshop is visible. Giving text an outline can make it easier to read. In this article, we’ll go over how to place outlines over text in Photoshop with ease.

wooden text spelling welcome
Make your text just as readable as this in Photoshop.

Why Use Outlined Text in Photoshop?

Photoshop’s text can only look as good as you style it. White text on a white background will look terrible and unreadable. Having an outline on that text will make it much easier to see.

Text outlines are essential for any graphic design you create in Photoshop. Even if you think the color balance looks decent, the text could still be unreadable from certain angles or in different formats. With the aid of an outline, you can ensure your text will be more readable by the audience.

Sure, you could create an outline for your text by merely duplicating the text layer and making the one behind it bigger and darker. That route, however, has some problems with alignments. There’s a far easier way to apply for a border that doesn’t require much work and is more straightforward than aligning and duplicating layers.

How To Apply Outlines in Photoshop

Applying an outline to Photoshop text can be done by applying a Stroke style. This process is so easy you’ll be using it as part of your regular Photoshop routine in no time. Here is the step-by-step process for adding an outline.

  1. Place some text on your Photoshop canvas. It doesn’t matter what type of font you use for this example. If you’d like to see how well outlines work, try choosing a thin font family to see how ideal outlines can be for your text.
Photoshop eat at joes text
This example text will do just fine for adding an outline.
  1. With your text layer selected, navigate to Layer > Layer Style > Blending Options. Alternatively, you can right-click on the layer itself and select Blending Options.
Photoshop eat at joes text selecting layer styles
Here is where you’ll find the Blending Options for applying an outline.
  1. After opening the Blending Options, you should have a new window with a checklist of different styles to apply. Scroll down to the checklist item that says Stroke and click it.
Photoshop eat at joes text opening blending options
Here is the window where you’ll find the place for applying an outline in the form of the Stroke blend.
  1. Once you click the checkbox, you should see an outline around your text. Edit the stroke size and color options, and select a color that would be visible and distinct from your background. Check out blending modes as well if you’d like to experiment.
Photoshop eat at joes text stroke applied
Play around with the stroke options to get the best outline.
  1. When you’re finished, click OK. Your text should now be outlined. If you want to change it at any time, you must open up Blending Options again.
Photoshop eat at joes text with stroke
Here’s what our text looks like with a stroke applied to create an outline.

It’s worth noting that this outline doesn’t just have to be applied to text. It will work on most layers, providing outlines for shapes and pictures. Keep this in mind for other Photoshop projects where this option would be helpful, like throwing a border on a photo.

Turning Off The Fill

You may want to have just an outline of a text without a color inside, making the text look more like a stencil. If you want to create this type of text, all you have to do is set the Fill of your text layer to 0%. Changing this setting will make your text disappear except for the outline.

Photoshop eat at joes text with stroke and no fill
Here’s what our text looks like an outline and no fill on a black background.

Outlined text with no fill can make your text look like a neon sign. This is also a great technique if you want to create more of a stencil for your text, where the fill could be another layer. You may have to play around with masking to get this to work, but it is worth the experimentation time.

Photoshop classic rock text
Thicker stroke and contrasting colors make this Classic Rock text pop.

What Can I Use Outlined Text For?

Outlined text can serve several different projects. Here are a few examples of where it would be helpful to have this feature applied to your text.

  • Neon Signs: Take out the fill of your text, add a stroke, and then some glow. This can make your text look like a neon sign you might see in the city or the window of a bar.
Photoshop neon sign text
This text with a stroke and glow looks like a neon sign.
  • Playful Posters: Text with thick outlines can have an eye-catching look similar to 1970s designs. If that’s the retro style you’re aiming for, try throwing on some warm colors and a heavy stroke.
Photoshop 70s style text poster
The bulkier stroke gives this poster a retro look.
  • Readable Pamphlet Text: If you’re creating text for a pamphlet, it can be difficult for readers to read all the text if it clashes with the rest of the colors. To make pamphlet text easier to read, try adding a thin enough stroke to make the font more pronounced.
Photoshop pamplet text for cat care
A pamphlet in Photoshop with strokes on text for readable text.

Read more:

How to Cut Out an Image in Photoshop
How to Resize Images in Photoshop
How to Curve Text in Photoshop

Tips and Tricks for Outlined Text

  • Play It Subtle: The outlined text doesn’t always have to be big and pronounced. Sometimes you can make it a subtle enough border to make your text visible. Try going for the thinnest stroke first with a basic black and see how pronounced your text becomes.
  • Hide It More: Play with the opacity slider to make the outline less visible. This can be handy to make the text more apparent but boldly with its stroke.
  • Experiment With Opacity and Fill: Try different variations of altering the stroke and fill of your text layer. Testing your text this way can make it easier to blend into other projects.
  • Not Just For Text: The Stroke style doesn’t just work for text layers. If you ever have to rasterize your text or turn it into a smart object, you can still apply the stroke to these layers. Keep in mind that you can also use the stroke on image layers.
Photoshop spooky inner glow text
This spooky text looks much better with an inner glow and reduced fill.

Alternative Outline Styles in Photoshop

As you may have noticed with the styling options, there’s more than one type of style you can apply to text. Consider these other style choices if you want your outline to have some more detail or a particular look.

  • Outer Glow: This style will add a glow to your text, as though it’s shining through the darkness. This is an excellent choice to create a specific warm tone or attention-grabbing effect.
Photoshop outer glow on text
This Photoshop text uses a glow instead of a stroke for its outline.
  • Inner Glow: Having an inner glow can fill in more of the text area to create a unique fill replacement.
Photoshop inner glow on text
This Photoshop text uses an inner glow to create a border that bleeds in with the fill color.
  • Drop Shadow: For a subtler way of drawing attention to your text, a drop shadow is a decent choice. Drop shadows can make it feel like your text has depth with shadows being cast.
Photoshop drop shadow on text
This Photoshop text is using a drop shadow to create more dimension.
  • Bevel & Emboss: Try out the bevel and emboss feature for a more inner outline. This tool will make your text look like it’s been rounded off around the edges like a finely cut piece of wood. You can also add texture and contour to the beveling to bring even more detail to your text.
Photoshop bevel on text
This Photoshop text is using an inner bevel to give the text some texture.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I make a text outline in Photoshop?

Text can be outlined in Photoshop using the Stroke feature in the Blending Options of your text layer. The Stroke can be edited for size, opacity, color, and more to give your text the most suitable of outlines.

Can you outline in Photoshop?

Yes, Photoshop does allow text to be outlined. You accomplish this task by turning on the Stroke style for a text in the Blending Options. Additionally, you can add drop shadows or glows if you want a different type of outline.

How do you outline text in Photoshop without fill?

To create Photoshop text that is outlined without a fill, you first need to place a stroke on your text. After adding the outlined stroke, go to your layer and change the Fill percentage to zero. This will remove the fill but leave the outline of your text.

How do you hollow text in Photoshop?

Hollowing text can be accomplished by adding a stroke and removing the fill. Additionally, you can try out the various Blending Options for Inner Glow and Inner Shadow to give your text more of a hollowed-out look.

Can I edit text after adding an outline in Photoshop?

The Blending Options in Photoshop don’t require changing the layer into a rasterized or smart object. You can apply an outline to your text and change the content.

How do you add a stroke to text in Photoshop?

The Blending Options can add Strokes to the text in Photoshop. The stroke creates a border around the outline of your text and can be edited for size, color, opacity, and even blending options.

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