How to use highlight box in Captivate?

Posted by Greten on 19 May 2019 under Tools

The highlight box is one of the visual elements that you can put on the slides of your Captivate elearning module. It is mainly used in drawing attention to a particular part of a static image such as a picture, a diagram, or a screen capture of a software application.

Similar to the other Captivate topics in this blog, the screen captures, and test I made are based on Captivate 11 / Captivate 2019; however, this feature works in the same way as in Captivate 2017.

Inserting highlight box

The Objects menu near the top of Captivate, a square with four smaller blue square at its upper-left region, is clicked showing its submenu: Highlight Box, Mouse, Zoom Area, Rollover Caption, Rollover Image, Rollover Slidelet, and Web. The Highlight Box is highlighted; its icon is a rectangle with a smaller blue rectangle near its upper-right corner. The shortcut keys Shift+Ctrl+L is also visible here as a tooltip.

You can insert a highlight box by doing either of the following:

  • Click the Object icon near the top of the Captivate window and select Highlight Box from the drop-down.
  • Press Shift+Control+L in Windows or Shift+Command+L in Mac or IOS.

The highlight box in its default form will appear in the middle of the slide. The default form varies with the theme, but it is usually blue with 20% opacity. From here, you can reposition it, resize it, and customize it in the manner similar to smart shapes.

Filling the outer area

The highlight box is similar to a regular rectangle under Shapes, but it can do one thing that the regular rectangle cannot, to fill the outer area. Under the Style tab of PROPERTIES, you can see a checkbox with caption Fill Outer Area.

The Style properties of Highlight Box showing Solid, Fill, Opacity, Style, Stroke, and Width. The Solid and Style menus are grayed-out. There is also a checkbox with a caption: Fill Outer Area.

If the Fill Outer Area box is not checked, the Highlight box behaves like a regular rectangle. It has border determined by the Stroke properties, and the appearance of its internal area is defined by the Fill properties. If you set the Opacity under Fill to 20%, an area inside the border that is closer to transparent than it is to opaque.

The Captivate's Preview button is a blue circle with a forward-like blue triangle in it, and the word Preview under it. There is also an inverted caret on its right, indicating that it has submenus.If the Fill Outer Area box is checked, you will not immediately notice the difference: the area inside the rectangle is still filled-up. However, when you preview the slide using F3 or any of the preview options under the Preview menu, the fill inside the box becomes the fill everywhere else on the slide aside from inside the box. The inside of the box became perfectly transparent, or you can say it's like a hole in the filled area throughout the slide.

Screen captures of two Captivate slides showing a fish among corals as the focus of the highlight boxes. On the left, the Fill Outer Area is not checked, causing the inside of the rectangle, where the fish is situated, to darken with semi-transparency. On the right is the same picture and same position of highlight box, but it is the area outside of the rectangle that is darkened with semi-transparency.

By default, the PROPERTIES interface is not visible. If you cannot see it, click the Properties burger menu near the upper-right corner.

Adobe Captivate's Library (folder with book) and Properties (three short thick horizontal lines) icons above the PROPERTIES and TIMING tabs.

If you cannot see the burger menu as well, it means that the custom workspace is enabled. You can open the PROPERTIES tab by checking Windows ยป Properties or by pressing Shift, Control, and D together (Ctrl+Shift+D).

Limitations of highlight box

Despite it being basically a rectangle with Fill Outer Area option, the highlight box has some disadvantage as compare to a regular shape.

    • It can only be a rectangle or square; it cannot be any other shape
    • Its Fill can only be a Solid color varying level of opacity or transparency. It cannot be a gradient or an image.
  • Its border Style can only be a solid line. Dashed and dotted lines are not allowed

Tips in using highlight boxes

A highlighter drawing a yellow rectangle around the Captivate's CP logo.The highlight box is a very useful tool in your elearning material. Ensure that you use it in a manner that maximizes learning and minimizes distractions.

  • If you are going to focus on a part of an illustration using a highlight box, ensure that the audio narration discussing it is sufficiently long so that the highlight box can linger for some time. Putting a highlight box that appears and disappears in the blink of an eye, like less than a second, is pointless and can be distracting. The learners may not notice what you highlighted and are either forced to playback or just ignore it.
  • Whenever possible, avoid having two or more highlight boxes visible at the same time. If you do:
    • They should be placed sufficiently close together such that the learner can focus on both of them as if they are one object. Two highlight boxes appearing side-by-side are good. Two highlight boxes at the opposite corners of the slide are bad.
    • Do not set any of the highlight boxes appearing together to fill the outer area, or else what one highlight box is trying to draw focus, the other highlight box will just darken. The only exception here is if a smaller highlight box appears inside a larger highlight box. For example, you want to focus the learner's attention on a specific part of the diagram, and later focus on an object within that specific part.
  • Set the color of the highlight box to be different that of smart shapes and use that same color consistently.

Last updated on 27 Oct 2020.

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