People often pick the wrong font-color when creating image captions, or when pairing the color of a text with the color of its background in general. Doing this makes the text illegible, which means that people will struggle to read what you wrote, and will likely decide to just not read it at all.
Fortunately, this issue is easy to fix. The following examples will show you which common mistakes to avoid, and which guidelines you should follow in order to make your texts and image captions readable and aesthetically pleasing.
What not to do
Avoid placing light-colored text on a light background:
Similarly, avoid placing dark-colored text on a dark background:
Avoid relying only on color contrasts between the text and the background to ensure readability:
Doing this generally leads to text which is annoying to read, and which can be illegible to color-blind people in some cases. It can work sometimes if you know what you’re doing, but you’re almost always better off not relying on it.
What you should do
Rely primarily on a light-dark contrast. For example, you can pair a dark-colored text with a light background:
You can also pair a light-colored text with a dark background:
If readability is your main concern, or if the background color is not consistent throughout, you can use white text with a black outline, which can be easily read on any background:
Similarly, you can also use white text with a black highlight, which is also readable on any background, and which might look better than a black outline in some cases:
Keep in mind that since you’re essentially creating your own background for the text when you use a highlight, you can choose other color combinations besides white and black, as long as you maintain a light/dark contrast between the text and its highlight.
Summary and conclusions
- To ensure that your image captions are legible, maintain a light/dark contrast between the text and the background. This means that you should avoid placing a light-colored text on a light background, or a dark-colored text on a dark background.
- This also means that you shouldn’t rely only on color contrasts between the text and the background to achieve readability.
- Try to pair light-colored texts with dark backgrounds, and dark-colored texts with light backgrounds.
- If readability is your main concern, you can use white text with a black outline, since it’s legible on all backgrounds.
- You can also use white text with a black highlight, which might look better than a black outline in some cases. In this case, you can also choose other color combinations besides white and black, as long as you maintain a light/dark contrast between the text and its highlight.