Transparent Pattern Fills in PowerPoint

Created: Monday, September 18, 2017, posted by at 9:30 am

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Did you know that PowerPoint 2003 and previous versions provided an option to create pattern fills for shapes that had transparency? For example, you could end up with horizontal lines that were 50% transparent, 20% transparent, or transparent with any percentage value.

Look at Figure 1, below and you can clearly see what I am trying to explain. This slide has a fairly multi-colored background. Now notice the rectangle placed over this background. This one has a Pattern fill, which is 50% transparent. See how this transparency plays with the different background colors.

Transparent Pattern Fills in PowerPoint 01
Figure 1: Transparent Pattern fill in PowerPoint 2003 for Windows

Now I created the exact, same slide in PowerPoint 2016 for Windows. Figure 2 shows the results. There’s no transparency for Pattern fills. I don’t know if this is an improvement, but I do know that my choices have diminished.

Transparent Pattern Fills in PowerPoint 02
Figure 2: Transparent Pattern fill in PowerPoint 2016 for Windows

Fortunately, there is are not one but two solutions, but I am not entirely happy with both of them. The first option requires that you have a copy of PowerPoint 2003, 2002, or 2000 installed. I did have PowerPoint 2003 installed on an old virtual machine, and that was great. Just so you know, you can see the Transparency option in Figure 3, below.

Transparent Pattern Fills in PowerPoint 03
Figure 3: Transparency for Pattern fill in PowerPoint 2003 for Windows

Now all you need to do is insert some shapes in PowerPoint 2003, and apply Pattern fills to them. Then add different Transparency values, such as 25%, 50%, 75%, etc. Save your file and shut down PowerPoint 2003. Now open this same file in PowerPoint 2016, and your Pattern fill transparency works! Even better, you can change the Pattern fill and the colors of the Patterns themselves. You can also resize the Shapes, but the transparency does not change. In fact, this can be a small problem if you indeed want to change the transparency because there’s no way to change that value in PowerPoint 2016!

If you do not have access to an older version of PowerPoint, you can still get transparency for Pattern fills by downloading a presentation I created. This presentation has squares with different transparency values applied in 5% increments.

Transparent Pattern Fills in Percentages

I did tell you that were two solutions to get the transparency values for Pattern fills back. We just explored the first solution. The second solution needs you to do some VBA programming and is not as difficult as you may imagine. Learn more in this post: Jamie’s Pattern Fill Transparency Add-in for PowerPoint

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