Sometimes you put a lot of effort in to producing just the right color by mixing red, green, and blue components. But, what do you do when you need different shades of the perfect color? You might put still more time and effort into producing just the right shades the same way, but there's an easier way.
Once you have just the right color, use the transparency setting in objects to lighten or darken it. For instance, the background of the slide below is a custom mix: Red, 195; Green, 235; and Blue, 195. Next, I added a text a placeholder and added a few talking points. Unfortunately, the placeholder's default background clashes with the slide's background.
You could make the text placeholder transparent—sometimes that works well. Change this default setting as follows:
- Right-click the placeholder and choose Format Placeholder from the resulting context menu. In PowerPoint 2007 and 2010, choose Format Shape from the context menu.
- On the Colors and Lines tab, choose No Fill from the Color dropdown in the Fill section. In PowerPoint 2007 and 2010, choose Fill in the left pane and click No Fill in the settings section.
- Click OK.
In this case, it is not particularly effective. The text items get lost in the saturated background.
Fortunately, it's a simple matter to lighten the placeholder's color just a bit:
- Right-click the placeholder and choose Format Placeholder from the resulting context menu. In PowerPoint 2007 and 2007, choose Format Shape.
- On the Colors and Lines tab, choose white from the Color dropdown in the Fill section. In PowerPoint 2007 and 2010, click Fill in the left pane (the default) and choose white from the Color dropdown.
- Change the Transparency setting to 35%.
- Click OK.
The placeholder now shows a lighter shade, with just a few clicks. No mixing and very little guesswork. You might have to experiment with the Transparency percentage a bit, but it won't take much work to get it right.
Apply the same technique to create darker shades. Instead of white, choose gray, and use a higher Transparency setting. The text placeholder shown below uses gray and a Transparency setting of 88%. In this case, the difference between shades is more subtle because the background is already saturated quite a bit.
Susan Sales Harkins is an IT consultant, specializing in desktop solutions. Previously, she was editor in chief for The Cobb Group, the world's largest publisher of technical journals.