Printing in white

Concept Design

Here’s a do-it-yourself technique for when you need a slick museum-like sign. Let’s say we want to make a series of cards to label a small art exhibit. It could just look like this:

But, let’s class it up a little. For best results you will need to set up a trimming station with an exacto knife or box cutter, a ruler with a metal edge, and a surface you can cut on, like an expendable sheet of cardboard. Using a paper cutter will work in some cases, but is less ideal, and requires a different technique.

In your app of choice, draw a box the exact size you need — in Word and PowerPoint, for example, once you draw a box you can right-click on the edge of the rectangle and choose ‘format’ and there you can type in specific dimensions.

Set the line color to something distinct (pure green, or maybe cyan, if you’re old school). Then, with the line/drawing tool, draw out four lines along, but past, each edge. Make sure all of these  line colors are set to black.

Holding down the start(WIN)/control(MAC) key (to disable ‘snap to grid’), drag the lines so that they overlap the box lines.


Delete the original rectangle. You should now have the same rectangle shape – but defined by the four intersecting lines.

Create a black rectangle a little larger than the first outlined box.

Either click in the new black box (involking the text tool) or create a ‘text box’ about the size of the original rectangle.

Type in the text you want, and set the text color to white. You may do this first, before you begin typing, by selecting the white swatch in the text style palette. There you go: white text!

When everything is ready, details and spelling are checked and layout is refined, it’s time to print. The beauty if this specific technique is that it can be achieved with a black and white printer.

I recommend printing on thicker paper (be sure of what your printer can handle), even if you’re going to mount this on foam core or other material.

If you are going to mount this on foam core, in this specific example, get the black stuff, if you can. You may also want to get some spray glue, if you can. I have a few tips on that process here.


The trick here is to glue the sheet to the board FIRST, then, using the guidelines, cut the whole thing together. Also, when you’re cutting, and why I don’t recommend a paper cutter for this, cut from the end of one guideline to the other, but be sure not to cut the excess all the way off.

And there you have it, not a quick process, but doable; and the results can look worthy of a big time exhibit.

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