How Do I Apply Background Color to Boxes in Adobe InDesign?

By Tee Schneider

A straightforward step-by-step article about adding background color to boxes (called "Frames") in Adobe InDesign.

Applying background color to Adobe InDesign CC boxes, which are called Frames, can be achieved in a few simple steps using the Fill tool, Swatches tool or Color panel. Since Frames provide the structure to your document, adding background color can strengthen your design by highlighting important information.

Creating a Frame

Step 1

Right-click the Frame tool to reveal shape options and then left-click on the shape option you want to use for your frame.

Step 2

Left-click and drag the frame out on your page.

Filling a Frame Using the Color Picker

Step 1

Left-click on your Frame to select it and then double-click the Fill tool to open the Color Picker.

Fill Tool

Step 2

Move the slider and targeting cross hairs around to choose a color. When you are happy with your choice, click OK.

Color Picker

Your frame is now filled with the color you chose and ready for text and/or images. If desired, add borders to make the frame stand out more.

Frame with background color.


If you forget to select your frame before choosing the color, you can also left-click the Fill tool, hold and drag the color directly from the tool into your frame.

Removing a Background Color

To remove the background color of your frame, left-click on the arrow beside the Fill tool to open up the Swatches panel and select None.

Remove your color.

Filling a Frame Using Swatches

You can also apply a background color using the Swatches Panel. Left-click on the Fill tool's arrow to open up the Swatches panel and select a swatch. Use the Tint Ramp or Slider in the Color Panel to make adjustments.

Swatches Panel

Filling a Frame Using the Color Panel

Select your Frame, click on the Color Panel (which looks like a paint palette), click in the CMYK Spectrum bar to select a color and then adjust the hue using the CMYK sliders.

Color Panel


Use the Color Panel menu to select RGB or Lab as an alternative to CMYK, if preferred.

References & Resources