The Ultimate Guide to Digital Blackout Poetry

Digital Blackout Poetry – The Ultimate Guide

Blackout Poetry

Blackout poetry has become increasingly popular in classrooms everywhere. If you’re not familiar with blackout poetry (a.k.a. erasure poetry), it’s a form of poetry where students take an existing text and black-out, or somehow obscure, most of the text, intentionally leaving behind words to create their poem. I’ll walk you through the specific steps for making digital blackout poetry with Google Docs, Word, and Pages. You can also download free, detailed tutorials for each option.

Digital Blackout PoetryDigital Blackout Poetry

Aside from the fact that ripping pages out of books tends to be frowned on, creating blackout poetry digitally has some real advantages. Three advantages that stand out to me are the ease of editing and re-editing. It’s essentially impossible to bring back a word that has been marked out with a sharpie compared to selecting “undo” digitally. The second advantage is that it’s easy for teachers/readers to see the original work with just a few clicks. Third, digital blackout poems can be shared with a broader audience online.

How to Create Blackout Poetry

Create a New Document

  • Create a new document and paste an existing text.
  • Get the text arranged on the page (ideally one page) so that it looks the way you want.


Blackout Poem Original Text

Change the Page Color

  • Change the page background to gray (or any color other than white or black).


Change Page Color

Highlight the Words You Wish to Include

  • Select the first word(s) that you wish to INCLUDE in your blackout poem.
  • Select the highlighter tool and change the color to white.
  • Continue highlighting (in white) all of the text you wish to include in your poem.


Highlight Poem

Change the Page Color to Black


Blackout Poem in Google Docs

Guides to Making Digital Blackout Poetry

Creating blackout poetry follows the same steps for most digital platforms. In the coming weeks, I’ll add tutorials for Word, Pages, and iPad. A printable, detailed tutorial is available at the bottom of this post.

Make Blackout Poetry with Google Docs

Change the Page Color

Changing the page color is fairly easy in  Google Docs. Just click File and select Page Setup, then select your new page color.

Google Docs Change Page Color

Highlight Text

Highlight the text you want to keep in white using the highlight tool.

Highlight Text in Google Docs

Change the Page Color to Black

Repeat the steps you followed before to change the page color, but this time choose black instead of gray.

Download the Printable Guide to Making Blackout Poetry with Google Docs

Download Now

Make Blackout Poetry with Word

How to Change Page Color in Word

Change the page color by selecting the Design menu, then clicking on the page color tool.

How to Change Page Color in Word

Highlight Text with the ShadIng Tool

Select the text you want to include. I prefer to use the Shading Tool to highlight text in white (white is not an option using the highlight tool). Select the Home menu to access the Shading Tool button,

Highlight Text with Shading Tool

Change the Page Color Again

Change the page color to black using the steps you followed before.

Download the Printable Guide to Making Blackout Poetry with Word

Download Now

Make Blackout Poetry with Pages for iPad

How to Change the Page Color in Pages

  • Get started by tapping on the More icon and selecting Document Setup.
  • Add a shape by tapping on the + and selecting the rectangle.
  • Resize the rectangle to cover the entire page.
  • Tap on the paintbrush and change the rectangle color to gray.
  • Click done to return to your document.


How to Change Page Color in Pages

Highlight Text to Include

  • Select the text you wish to include in your blackout poem and choose Highlight.


Highlight Text in Pages

Change the Page Color to Black

Use the steps for changing page color and change the page color to black.

Download the Printable Guide to Making Blackout Poetry with Pages for iPad

Download Now

Share Your Blackout Poetry

Do you have any tips or suggestions for making digital blackout poetry? Want to share some of the awesome things your students create? Share away in the comment below or on Twitter.

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Nick LaFave

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Kathleen F. Odean

Great idea and clear explanation. I’m probably missing something but where do you get the text to start with? Let’s say you’re using a contemporary novel with your class and want them to create the poem from any page in the novel. Taking a photo of it won’t work. I know old literature is available on Gutenberg but how do you get a page from a newer novel? Thanks.

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