I want to draw labels on a photograph. The labels will only contain 1..3 words, and sometimes there shall be a linebreak, e. g.

Big House \newline

Is it possible to create a box which draws a white rectangle below this text and which adapts to the width of the text?

I could use \colorbox{white}{Big House \newline (empty)}, but it does not allow the linebreak.

If I use a \parbox{}, I have to define the width by hand.

Is there a box with a colored background, which can itself adapt its width to the longest text and contain linebreaks or paragraphs?

2 Answers 2


You could use the varwidth environment provided by the homonymous package; this environment is an analogue of minipage, but its resulting width is the natural width of its contents. A little example:




\noindent\MyCBox{Big House\\ (empty)}

\noindent\MyCBox{Big House and some more text\\ (empty)}

\noindent\MyCBox{Big\\ (empty)}



enter image description here

  • \newcommand\MyCBox[1]{% \colorbox{red!60}{\begin{varwidth}{\dimexpr\linewidth-2\fboxsep}#1\end{varwidth}}} While compiling we are getting the error as ! Undefined control sequence. <argument> \dimexpr Please suggest me how to avoid this error.
    – CR20001
    May 27, 2013 at 5:39

\overbox{Big House \\ (empty)}

One can also say

\overbox[c]{Big House \\ (empty)}

to get lines centered with respect to one another.


enter image description here

  • 1
    You can also use {@{}c@{}} as the argument to tabular if you prefer centered lines. But see the edited answer for a slightly different approach.
    – egreg
    Oct 26, 2011 at 21:01

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