Colour-graphemic synaesthetes experience vivid colours when reading letters, digits and words. We examined the effect of stimulus competition and attention on these unusual colour experiences in 14 synaesthetes and 14 non-synaesthetic controls. Participants named the colour of hierarchical local-global stimuli in which letters at each level elicited synaesthetic colours that were congruent or incongruent with the display colour. Synaesthetes were significantly slower to name display colours when either level was incongruent than when both levels were congruent. This effect was significantly reduced when synaesthetes focused attention on one level while the congruency of letters at the ignored level was varied. These findings suggest that competition between multiple inducers and mechanisms of voluntary attention influence colour-graphemic synaesthesia.