Add text effects in Adobe InDesign

Did you know that many of the same effects you can apply to text with Photoshop or Illustrator can also be done directly in Adobe InDesign? If you’re just creating a few custom headers, it’s easier to do this directly in your document rather than opening another program and creating a graphical header. As with most special effects, moderation is best. Use these text effects for capital letters or short titles and titles. The specific effects we are talking about in this tutorial are Bevel and Emboss and Shadow & Glow effects (Drop Shadow, Inner Shadow, Outer Glow, Inner Glow).

  1. Effects dialog box
  2. Bevel and Emboss options
  3. Bevel and Emboss Effects
  4. Shadow and Glow options
  5. Shadow and Glow Effects
  6. Combine text effects

Effects dialog box

To open the effects dialog, go to Window > Effects or use Shift + Control + F10 to open it. You can also access the effects using the . button fx in the menu bar.

Actual dialog boxes and options may vary slightly depending on the version of InDesign you are using.

Bevel and Emboss options

The Bevel and Emboss options may seem intimidating at first glance, but the first option you’ll want to change is to check the Preview box (bottom left). This way you can preview the effect in the text as you play around with different settings.

Exploring style and technique are probably the settings you want to play with the most. Each of them applies their text differently.


  • Internal chamfer † Creates a 3D rendering of your text.
  • External chamfer † The surface around the text appears to be carved or chiseled, leaving raised lettering.
  • embossing † Gives text an enhanced 3D effect.
  • Cushion relief : Another 3D text effect, but the edges are not raised.

Options Technic for each style: soft hard chisel and soft chisel † They affect the edges of text effects to give you a very soft, delicate look or something more complex and precise.

Other options control the apparent direction of the light, the size of the bevels, and even the color of those bevels, as well as how well the background shows up.

Bevel and Emboss Effects

These examples include default settings for various Bevel and Emboss styles and methods, as well as some special effects you can get, as shown below:

Unless otherwise noted, samples use default Direction settings: Up, Size: 0p7, Soften: 0p0, Depth: 100%, Shadow 120°, Height: 30°, Highlights: Screen/White Opacity: 75%, Shadow: Multiply/Black, Opacity : 75%

  • top left: internal chamfer, smooth
  • upper middle : outer chamfer, smooth
  • top right : embossed, smooth finish
  • Left middle: Cushion relief, smooth
  • middle middle: internal bevel, hard chisel
  • center right: external bevel, hard chisel
  • bottom left side: pillow embossing, smooth at 0p6, softened at 0p4, highlights opacity 93%, shadows opacity 49%, magenta text on black background
  • lower middle: inner chamfer, soft chisel size 0p6, softening 0p11
  • bottom right: Outer Bevel, Chisel at 0p11, Elevation 23°, Highlight Opacity 89%, Shadow Opacity 98%, White text on green background – but the text is set to the Multiply blending mode so you can see the bevel effect but not the text itself . There’s also an inner shadow with 65% Opacity and 9% Noise to help define the edges.

These are just some of the looks you can get. Experimentation is the key.

Shadow and Glow options

Like Bevel and Emboss, the Drop Shadow options can seem intimidating at first glance. Many people may go for the default just because it’s easier. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Check the “Preview” box so you can see what happens to your text as you play around with the different options. The options for the Inner Shadow effect are similar to Drop Shadow. Outer Glow and Inner Glow have fewer settings. Here’s what different shadow and glow effects do:

  • drop shadow † Creates a duplicate of the text hiding behind it like a shadow and makes the text float above the paper. You can control the color and position of the shadow and sharpen or blur the edges.
  • inner shadow † Creates a shadow around the inner edges of text Alone or in combination with Inner Glow, it can look like the text has been cut from paper and you can see what’s underneath.
  • Outer Glow † Creates a shadow or glowing light effect (depending on color and background) around the outer edges of text.
  • Inner Glow † Creates a glowing effect around the inner edges of text.

Shadow and Glow Effects

Shadows can be overused a little, but they are useful. And if you play with the options, you can go way beyond the main shade.

Including the title text, this is how we achieved each of the views in this illustration. We omit spaces and X/Y offsets unless this is visually critical.

Shadow: green shadow

&glow: black text on a black background; White glow size 1p5, 21% spread

Text effects: Drop shadow with spacing and X/Y shifts everything to 0 (the shadow is directly behind the text), size 0p7, spread 7%, noise 12%. The crucial part of this look is that the ‘Object casts shadow’ box in the ‘Shadow’ options is unchecked and the text color is set to white in the ‘Multiply’ text blending mode (set in the ‘Effects’ dialog, not ‘Options’ ‘). shadows”). ). This makes the text invisible and you only see the shadow.


  • top left: your main default shade
  • upper middle : standard base inner shade
  • top right: standard, shade and inner shade
  • bottom left side : White text with pink shadow set to distance and X/Y offset of 0, size 1p8, noise 7%. Creates a kind of stencil effect.
  • lower middle: Same as “Text Effects” in the header, except the shadow is blue with 78% Opacity, 7% Spread, and 7% Noise. If the text is set to Multiply, you will only see the shadow.
  • bottom right: blue text with a black stripe has a magenta outer glow with fine technique (softer by default) and an inner glow with fine technique and edge source (centered by default).

Make your text pop, sparkle, sparkle, float, or fade by experimenting with InDesign shadow and glow effects.

Combine text effects

There are many ways to combine text effects in InDesign, but we’ll focus on some of the basics already covered in this tutorial. The title text of the artwork combines a simple, smooth inner border with a standard shadow.

In the first row E we have:

  • Plain, unadorned E in light gray

  • An E with a smooth outer edge looks almost like a shadow and lifts the text off the page.

  • E with outer bevel plus inner shadow changes it from raised text to indented, but with very sharp, raised edges.

In the bottom row E we have:

  • Plain, unadorned E in green:

  • E with a smooth 2p0 internal chamfer has a slightly raised, puffy appearance.

  • E with inner bevel plus drop shadow with X/Y offset of 0p7 gets a bold letter and floats just above the page.

This only scratches the surface, but we hope you play around with the all effects settings for Bevel and Emboss, Drop Shadow, Inner Shadow, Outer Glow and Inner Glow and find new and interesting ways to combine them.

You can learn more about working with InDesign effects in Photoshop and Illustrator tutorials. Many of the same effects and options (though not all of them, of course) can be found in InDesign and share many of the same dialog boxes.

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