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Is it possible to set the background of a text box in Google presentation to be semi-transparent? All I see are options to either transparent (a.k.a. "no fill") or completely opaque text boxes.

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Yup, you can set the background color to be semi-transparent. Use the custom color option, it gives you the ability to set transparency.

Setting Opacity on box in Google Docs Presentation

The result will be..

Transparent example on Google Docs

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    Kudos Deepak! I never knew this existed. Deleting my other answer now. – OnenOnlyWalter Jan 28 '13 at 17:57
  • Yup, it exists but not easily visible. Hope the OP sees my answer now :D – Deepak Kamat Jan 28 '13 at 18:03
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    @DeepakKamat I guess it was a partially visible (semi transparent) feature? :-) – Clay Nichols Mar 4 '14 at 17:15
  • This custom color technique also works for creating semi-transparent shapes in Google Slides. – dylankb Jul 8 '18 at 0:39
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To add on to Deepak's answer:

If after following Deepak's instructions, the text area rectangle has a transparent background, but the area immediately behind the text characters themselves still has a solid white (or other solid color) background, then:

Google Presentation Transparent Text

  1. Select the text box.
  2. From the Format menu, select Text Color.
  3. Select "Highlight".
  4. Click "Transparent".
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You can also format it's drop shadow so that the variables are transparency 0, angle 90, distance 3-5, and blur radius 3-5.

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