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Using and Creating Graphics in Microsoft Office 2010

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This chapter provides an overview of the options for adding graphics to your Office application files. It also looks at how to insert shapes, SmartArt graphics, images, and clip art as well as some of the new features that Office 2010 provides for working with graphics within the applications.
This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Each of the Office applications is designed for a particular purpose. Excel is a number cruncher, Word is a powerful word processor, and PowerPoint is a presentation application extraordinaire. Although you use the different Office applications for different purposes, graphics—images, shapes, and clip art—are used for pretty much the same purpose in all the applications. Graphics enable you to enhance information and add interest to the spreadsheets, documents, and presentations that you create. In Office 2010, the commands and tools used to insert and modify images, shapes, SmartArt graphics, and clip art are very consistent across the different applications in the Office suite. So, if you know how to use graphics in Word, you can apply that knowledge to another Office application, such as PowerPoint.

This chapter provides an overview of the options for adding graphics to your Office application files. We will look at how to insert shapes, SmartArt graphics, images, and clip art. We will also look at some of the new features that Office 2010 provides for working with graphics in the applications, including the screen capture tool and the background removal tool.

The Office 2010 Options for Graphics and Pictures

The Office 2010 applications offer a number of different possibilities for adding graphics to the files that you create in each of the applications. Graphic options range from the drawing of shapes and the insertion of customizable SmartArt graphics to the ability to insert and enhance your own digital images.

How you use graphics in your Office documents (let's consider Office document to mean a Word document, Excel worksheet, PowerPoint slide, or any other file type used by the Office applications) is really as important as the type of graphic you use. Graphics are meant to enhance a Word document, Excel worksheet, or PowerPoint slide. Enhancing your work with a graphic can mean different things depending on the type file you a creating. For example, a neighborhood newsletter created in Word might benefit from the use of clip art as design elements or headlines formatted as graphics using WordArt. In another scenario, a PowerPoint slide detailing a particular business process could be greatly enhanced using a SmartArt graphic diagram that provides a visualization of the process described on the slide. It definitely makes sense to weigh the benefits of adding a graphic to an Office document; you should avoid graphics that make a document or slide too busy or do not enhance the information provided. Make sure that your graphic elements increase the impact of information being provided.

Charts, for example (which are discussed in the context of their use in particular Office applications such as Excel and PowerPoint) are extremely useful graphics used to provide a visualization of numeric data. Charts can be particularly useful when they accompany worksheet data in Excel or help explain numerical data provided on a PowerPoint slide. Consider the chart as your measuring stick in terms of weighing whether to use a particular graphic type in an Office application. We know how charts enhance the understanding of numerical values in tables, so try and apply the same measuring stick when you are going to use digital images, clip art, and diagrams; make sure that they add to document and don't just serve as a cute distraction. I realize that pictures of puppies will melt nearly anyone's heart, but using puppy pictures to mask bad sales trends shown on a PowerPoint slide is just plain wrong (although those puppies can be real cute).


For information on creating charts in Excel, see page 381 in Chapter 14, "Enhancing Worksheets with Charts."


For information on using charts in PowerPoint, see page 542 in Chapter 19, "Better Slides with Clip Art, Pictures, and SmartArt."

As already mentioned, the Office applications provide a number of different possibilities in terms of the different types of graphical elements available to you. The list that follows provides a brief description of each of the possibilities:

  • Picture: You can insert your digital pictures into your Office documents. The Office applications support a number of different file formats including Windows Bitmap (.bmp), Graphics Interchange Format (.gif), Joint Photographic Experts Group (.jpg), Portable Network Graphics (.png), and Tagged Image File Format (.tif).
  • Clip Art: Each Office application has access to an installed library of clip art images. Additional clip art can be downloaded from Microsoft.com as you work in a particular application. Microsoft.com provides you with a seemingly unending library of clip art images. Static clip art is referred to as an illustration. The Clip Art library also provides animated GIF images, which are referred to as videos; however, GIF images are just a layering of static images that provide the appearance of motion. The Clip Art gallery also includes photographs and audio files.
  • Shapes: The ability to insert different drawn shapes into an Office application has been around nearly as long as the Office applications. A Shapes gallery provides a number of different shape categories that make it easy to add lines, rectangles, stars, and even callouts to your Office documents. Shapes can also be edited and combined to provide you with all sorts of possibilities.
  • SmartArt: This graphic type was a huge addition to the Office applications when it was introduced with the release of Office 2007. Office 2010 provides additional SmartArt diagrams and makes it easier to edit SmartArt diagrams.
  • Screenshot: This tool provides you with the ability to take a snapshot of the Windows desktop and/or any windows open on the desktop. This can be particularly useful if you want to visually document the steps required to use in a particular feature in one of the Office applications (or any application open on the Windows desktop). You can also use it to capture the screen of messaging platforms such as Skype or the wall on your Facebook page.
  • WordArt: WordArt was actually created using a separate WordArt application for a number of the Office suite releases and was inserted into a document as an object such as clip art or a digital image. WordArt attributes can now be assigned to text in place, allowing you much greater flexibility in converting text to WordArt using the WordArt gallery.

The commands used to insert the various graphic types such as pictures, clip art, or shapes are provided on the Ribbon's Insert tab in each of the Office applications such as Word or PowerPoint. You can even insert pictures, clip art, and shapes into your Outlook emails; the Ribbon provided by the message window provides the various commands for inserting graphics on the Insert tab.

In Word, Excel, Outlook, and Publisher (Publisher does not include SmartArt graphics or the Screenshot command), the commands for inserting different graphic types are bundled into the Illustrations command group. Figure 4.1 shows the Ribbon's Insert tab in Word.

Figure 4.1

Figure 4.1 The Insert tab includes the Illustrations group.

In PowerPoint, these commands have been split into two groups. The Images group includes the Picture, Clip Art, Screenshot, and Photo Album commands (which enables you to take a series of digital images and quickly create slides for each image). The Illustrations group in PowerPoint houses the Shapes, SmartArt, and Chart commands.

The WordArt command and associated gallery are found in the Text group on the Ribbon's Insert tab in all the Office applications mentioned. WordArt can be inserted on a document page as a new object. You can also convert existing text to WordArt.

Working with SmartArt Graphics

SmartArt provides a large gallery of all sorts of different graphics that can be used for creating eye-catching lists and diagrams. You can create lists that use shapes to better define the relationship between text entries in a list and you can create lists that combine text and pictures. Figure 4.2 shows a vertical picture list SmartArt graphic that includes thumbnail photos and text.

Figure 4.2

Figure 4.2 A SmartArt list that includes pictures.

SmartArt lists enable you to go beyond the possibilities normally associated with numbered and bulleted lists. SmartArt lists can be particularly useful in PowerPoint where you can replace bulleted lists on slides with SmartArt lists. SmartArt lists are actually better at showing how the different items in a list are related than the typical bulleted list found on a PowerPoint slide.


For information on converting text to SmartArt in PowerPoint, see page 540 in Chapter 19.

The SmartArt gallery also provides a large number of different diagram types. There are process diagrams, relationship diagrams, and hierarchy diagrams just to name a few. For example, a hierarchy organization chart could be used in an Excel worksheet to provide information related to how different departments shown in a worksheet relate to each other in terms of the corporate structure. Figure 4.3 shows a half-circle organization chart in an Excel worksheet.

Figure 4.3

Figure 4.3 Organization charts can be inserted into Excel worksheets or other Office documents.

Each SmartArt diagram category provides you with a specific way to represent information visually in your Office documents. The list that follows provides a brief description of each of the SmartArt graphic categories:

  • List: Enables you to place text in nonsequential vertical or horizontal lists.
  • Process: Designed to show a logical progression or flow, this diagram type enables you to break down the steps in a process or cycle.
  • Cycle: Enables you to show the steps in a continuous process.
  • Hierarchy: These diagrams show the hierarchical relationship between items shown in the diagram. A hierarchy diagram can also be used to show a decision tree.
  • Relationship: Enables you to show how elements in the diagram are related or connected.
  • Matrix: This diagram type shows how the parts relate to the whole.
  • Pyramid: Used to show both hierarchical relationships and the proportional importance of items in the hierarchy.
  • Picture: This group will list all the SmartArt lists and diagrams that enable you to incorporate images into the SmartArt structure.
  • Office.com: This group provides additional SmartArt graphics provided online via the Office.com website.

SmartArt graphics are easy to create. They are also easy to edit and modify. Let's take a look at inserting SmartArt graphics into the Office applications and then look at the tools available for modifying and enhancing SmartArt lists and diagrams.

Inserting SmartArt Graphics

SmartArt graphics are inserted using the SmartArt command, which is housed in the Illustration group on the Ribbon's Insert tab. To insert SmartArt into an Office document, follow these steps:

  1. On the Insert tab, select SmartArt. The Choose a SmartArt Graphic dialog box will open as shown in Figure 4.4.
    Figure 4.4

    Figure 4.4 The SmartArt Graphic dialog box.

  2. Select a SmartArt category to view the individual diagrams provided by a particular category.
  3. Select the list or diagram that you want to insert.
  4. Click OK. The list or diagram will be inserted into your current Office document.

You can now enter the text that you want to place in the diagram. Figure 4.5 shows a Venn diagram SmartArt graphic that has been inserted into a Word document.

Figure 4.5

Figure 4.5 Enter the text for the SmartArt list or diagram.

You can enter the text for the diagram directly onto the diagram parts by replacing any of the [TEXT] placeholders. You can also enter and edit text entries for the diagram in the Text pane that accompanies each SmartArt graphic (to the left of the SmartArt). The Text pane can be collapsed by clicking the pane's Close button. If you want the Text pane to reappear, click the Expand button on the left edge of the SmartArt frame.

Some SmartArt lists and diagrams enable you to include pictures as part of the list or diagram. After you insert a SmartArt graphic that includes placeholders for pictures, you will find that picture placeholders are provided in the different diagram parts as well as the Text pane for the SmartArt graphic. To replace a picture placeholder, click the placeholder in either the diagram or the Text pane. The Insert Picture dialog box will open. Navigate to the folder that houses the picture graphic and then select the file. Click Insert to place the picture in the SmartArt graphic.

The picture will be sized according to the space allotted for it in the list or diagram. For example, if you insert a picture into a circle that is part of a particular diagram type, the picture will be sized to fit in the shape, meaning the circle. This means that you do not have to size or crop images before you insert them into a SmartArt list or diagram. Even the largest digital photo will be sized to fit appropriately into the SmartArt graphic shape.

After you have completed entering the text and pictures (if applicable) for the SmartArt graphic, click outside the graphic's frame. You can now continue to work on the document, worksheet, or presentation that you are creating. The SmartArt graphic is like any other object in that it can be moved or sized as required.

Modifying SmartArt Graphics

When you select a SmartArt graphic in an Office document, the SmartArt Tools become available on the Ribbon. The SmartArt Tools consist of a Design and a Format tab.

The Design tab is primarily devoted to the selection of layouts and styles for the SmartArt graphic. Figure 4.6 shows the SmartArt Tools Design tab.

Figure 4.6

Figure 4.6 The SmartArt Tools Design tab.

When you work with the Design tab command groups, you will be affecting the entire SmartArt graphic. For example, the Layouts gallery enables you to choose from a number of different layouts for the particular type of SmartArt list or diagram that you inserted into your Office document. The Change Colors command in the SmartArt Styles group enables you to specify a color combination for the SmartArt graphic based on the current theme as well as a number of other color categories. After you have specified a color combination for SmartArt, you can use the SmartArt Styles gallery to fine-tune the use of the color scheme selected for the graphic and apply 3D styles to the SmartArt.

Two other command groups serve as the end caps for the Design tab. On the far left is the Create Graphic group and at the far right is the Reset group. In the Create Graphic group, you are provided the Add Shape command, which enables you to add additional shapes (the same shape that is used as the primary building block for the SmartArt graphic) to the graphic.

So, if you have inserted a SmartArt list that provides three list boxes, you can increase the number of boxes using the Add Shape command. The Create Graphic group also has other commands that enable you to promote or demote and move up or move down shapes in the SmartArt graphic. The availability of these commands will depend on the type of SmartArt graphic you have inserted into your Office document.

If you make design changes to your graphic using the Change Colors command or the SmartArt Styles gallery and just don't like the way things turned out, you can reset the graphic and start over (or leave things well enough alone). Click the Reset Graphic command in the Reset group. The Reset Graphic command does not reset changes that you make using the Layouts gallery or the commands in the Create Graphic group.

The other SmartArt Tools tab is the Format tab. The Format tab is shown in Figure 4.7. The Format tab commands are a little different from those provided on the Design tab, which were geared to making global changes to the SmartArt graphic.

Figure 4.7

Figure 4.7 The SmartArt Tools Format tab.

Many of the command possibilities provided by the Format tab can be applied to the entire SmartArt graphic or the individual shapes (elements) that make up the graphic. This enables you to fine-tune the look of a SmartArt graphic and modify an existing graphic as you require.

For example, you might want to change the shape of a specific element (which is referred to as a shape, so this can be confusing) in the SmartArt graphic. You can select a specific shape and modify it or you can select a number of shapes (select the first shape or element and then hold down the Ctrl key when selecting the other shapes) and modify them collectively. The Shapes group on the Format tab enables you to change the shape of a selected element or elements using the Change Shape gallery. You can also change the size of a shape or shapes using the Larger and Smaller commands.

The Format tab also provides you with the ability to modify the style for a selected shape or shapes and modify shape fill, outline, and effects. The Shape Styles group provides access to the Shapes Styles gallery, which provides a number of different border fill and text styles. Shape Fill, Shape Outline, and Shape Effects enable you to modify these style elements individually.

The WordArt Styles gallery provides you with a number of different WordArt text styles that can be applied to the text in a shape. These styles include color, outline, shadow and text effects. If you want to fine-tune the WordArt style assigned to a particular shape or a number of selected shapes, you can use the Text Fill, Text Outline, and Text Effects commands as needed.

The Text command group provides commands used to specify the text direction in a shape or shapes that make up the SmartArt graphic. You can use the Text Direction command to change the direction of the text. The Align Text command enables you to specify whether the text should be aligned to the top, middle, or bottom of the graphic or shape.

The Arrange group commands are related to how a shape is layered with other shapes and how the text in a document such as a Word document deals with the SmartArt graphic. To layer shapes in a graphic, use the Bring Forward and Send Backward command as needed. You can change the alignment and rotation of an entire SmartArt graphic or entire shape by using the Align and Rotate commands, respectively.

Aligning Graphics and Text

In terms of a SmartArt graphic in a document that includes text, you can use the Position command to specify whether the graphic is to be inline with the text or will allow the text to wrap around it. You can also change how the text wraps around the graphic by using the Wrap Text command. When you insert a graphic such as a SmartArt graphic, you are, in effect, creating a new drawing layer that sits on top of the text, which lives in its own layer: the text layer. The choices available for wrapping text in relation to a SmartArt graphic also apply to other graphics that you might use, such as images, clip art, or shapes. The choices provided on the Wrap Text command's gallery are as follows:

  • In Line with Text: The SmartArt graphic is placed in the text layer, enabling you to position the graphic in the text paragraphs in the document. The text will not wrap around the graphic.
  • Square: The text wraps around the graphic in a square pattern, which is defined by the outside boundaries of the graphic's frame (not the graphic's shape).
  • Tight: The text wraps around the graphic based on the graphic's shape.
  • Through: The text wraps around the graphic as if the graphic was an inline element with the text. The text remains outside the graphic, however. This is very similar to the Tight setting.
  • Top and Bottom: Text wraps on the top of the graphic and then continues below the graphic, placing the graphic between the text flow.
  • Behind Text: The graphic is moved behind the text layer. This enables you to use a graphic as a frame or as a watermark on the page.
  • In Front of Text: The graphic is placed in the drawing layer, which sits on top of the text layer. The text will be behind the graphic. This can be used in PowerPoint to unveil or hide a bullet point or bullet points when an animation effect is added to the graphic.

These different text-wrapping options become particularly important when you are working in Office applications such as Word and Publisher where the SmartArt graphic will cohabitate the page along with a potentially large amount of text. Remember that the text is in its own layer and the SmartArt graphic is in the drawing layer. This not only enables you to determine how the graphic will interact with the text but how graphics in the drawing layer interact with each other.

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