Thanks for coming to, the world's #1 resource for all things InDesign!

Why is the Effects Panel Grayed Out?

When you try to apply transparency effects to a text frame, you may occasionally see all the controls of the Effects panel are grayed out.

This can be caused by two things:

1. You have your cursor in the text frame.

If this is the case, press ESC to select the frame and make the effects controls available.

2. You have selected the frame and Formatting Affects Text (the T button) in the Swatches panel or the Tools panel.

In this case, press the Formatting Affects Container button, or use the keyboard shortcut, j.

To apply effects to text you must have the frame selected. Then either target the Text level in the Effects panel:

Or if the text frame has no fill, you can apply effects at the Object level and they’ll appear on the text.

If you later decide to give the frame a fill, you can easily apply the effects to the text by dragging the FX icon from the Object level to the Text level.

Mike Rankin

Mike Rankin

Editor in Chief of, InDesign Magazine, and Author of LinkedIn Learning courses on InDesign, Illustrator, GIMP, Inkscape, and Adobe Dimension.
Mike Rankin

Latest posts by Mike Rankin (see all)

  • - November 30, -0001
Related Articles

5 Comments on “Why is the Effects Panel Grayed Out?

  1. Thanks Mike… I’ve actually noticed that with my effects panel before and never knew what was causing it. I think it was the cursor in my text area! :)

  2. I had an email exchange on this subject with one of the ID engineers a couple of years back. He explained that the problem (assuming you consider it one — I did) is with the InDesign DOM, and which properties and methods are exposed depending on what is currently targeted. It made sense, and my right index finger has become quite used to that J key. :-)

  3. Show a little respect: When discussing potential wedding proposals, you’ll probably meet countless
    people who think asking her parents for her hand is lame and outmoded.
    They are leaving their business within a couple of months because
    they would not include this strategy in with their marketing.
    This proposed information return is in addition to the
    requirement to file a FBAR.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *