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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Using Shapes and the Office Drawing Tools

The Microsoft Office applications also provide you with the ability to add a variety of shapes to your Office documents. The Shapes gallery, which you access via the Shapes command on the Insert tab, provides a number of different shape categories. You can add lines, rectangles, block arrows, callouts, and a number of other different shape types.

One of the available shapes is a text box, which as advertised, is used to add a box containing text to a document. However, other shapes can also contain text; this means that you can use any shape as a design element and get double duty out of it as a text container. This can be very useful when you want to add text to a document but also want to add some visual interest at the same time, say in a Word document or a PowerPoint slide. The text in a shape can be formatted using WordArt styles and text fill, outline, and effects tools. This enables you to create shapes with text entries that are eye-catching and serves an informational purpose in your document.

When you add a shape to an Office document, the shape is placed on a drawing canvas. This is particularly important in Word and Publisher where a large amount of text might already exist on a page or will exist on the page when the document is complete. The drawing canvas floats on top of the document's text layer. This means that you don't have to worry about the text layer as you work with your shapes until you determine how the shapes will interact with the text in terms of the text's alignment with respect to the shape or shapes (which is controlled using the Wrap Text command on the Drawing Tools Format tab).

You can insert multiple shapes on a drawing canvas and then arrange or layer the shapes as needed. This allows you to build your own custom graphics. Although the SmartArt graphics provide many different composite drawings that contain different shapes (and can be manipulated individually), you can use the shapes to create pretty much anything that you require. After you create the graphic using multiple shapes, you can then select the shapes (hold down the Ctrl key to select multiple shapes) and the select the Group command. Now when you move or size one shape in the group, all the shapes in the group will be moved or sized.

If you are going to insert a single shape as a graphic element in an Office document, you can insert it using the Shapes gallery, which you access via the Shapes command on the Ribbon's Insert tab. Figure 4.12 shows the Shapes gallery.

Figure 4.12

Figure 4.12 The Shapes gallery.

Select the shape you want to insert. The mouse pointer will become a drawing tool. Click and drag to draw the shape on the document, worksheet, or slide.

After the shape has been inserted, you can size the shape using the sizing handles provided when the shape is selected. You can also drag the shape in the document to position it. When the Shape is selected, the Drawing Tools Format tab becomes available on the Ribbon. It supplies a number of different commands for formatting the shape and text that appears in the shape.

Adding Multiple Shapes to a Drawing Canvas

In cases where you want to combine several shapes into a single graphic, you probably should insert a new drawing canvas and then insert all the shapes onto this canvas. The shapes will then be easier to arrange and group if necessary because they will all be in the same drawing canvas layer. You can insert a new drawing canvas (which looks like a blank graphic frame on the page or slide) by selecting the New Drawing Canvas command at the bottom of the Shapes gallery.

After you have the new drawing canvas in your document, you can size the canvas as needed. To insert shapes into the canvas, use the Shapes gallery provided in the Insert Shapes gallery, which is on the Drawing Tools Format tab. You can add shapes as needed to the canvas. Figure 4.13 shows a drawing canvas that includes multiple shapes.

Figure 4.13

Figure 4.13 A drawing canvas containing multiple shapes.

As you work with the shapes, you can use the various tools in the Shape Styles group to modify fill color, outline, and effects for a selected shape or shapes. You can use the commands in the Arrange group to layer shapes in the canvas. The Bring Forward command and the Send Backward command each provide a menu with different possibilities for positioning shapes in layers.

After you have placed the shapes in layers or arranged the shapes in the drawing canvas the way that you want them, drag the mouse to select all the shapes. You can then use the Group command to group the shapes into a single composite shape.

Adding Text to a Shape

You can add text to any shape. When the shape is selected, type the text that you want to appear in the shape. When you use certain styles available in the Shape Styles gallery to format the shape, the text color will also be changed.

If you want to format the text, select the text in the shape. You can use the commands in the WordArt Styles group to add WordArt styles to the text. You can also manipulate the text fill, outline, and effects using the Text Fill, Text Outline, and/or Text Effects commands, respectively.

For aligning the text within the shape, you can take advantage of the Text Direction command to rotate the text within the shape. The Align Text command enables you to align the text in the shape and provides the following options: Top, Middle, or Bottom.

Formatting a Shape with the Drawing Tools

All the tools that you need for formatting a shape are provided in the Drawing Tools Format tab. Some of the command groups on this tab are specific to the shape itself and others are related to the text in a shape and how a shape interacts with text in a document and other shapes. The Drawing Tools Format command groups are as follows:

  • Insert Shapes: This group provides the Shapes gallery and the Edit Shape and Draw Text Box. The Edit Shape command enables you to replace a selected shape or view the edit points on a shape. The edit points enable you to manipulate different parts of a single shape. For instance, on a Smiley Face, the edit points would give you control over the placement of the eyes and mouth on the face.
  • Shape Styles: This group enables you to apply shape styles to your shapes that include fill, outline, and text color formatting. You can fine-tune the style for a shape using the Shape Fill, Shape Outline, and Shape Effects commands. The Shape Effects command enables you to apply a number of different effects to the shape such as Shadow, Reflection, and Glow. You can also use the 3-D Rotation option to add 3D effects to the shape.
  • WordArt Styles: This group becomes available when you have added text to the shape. You can apply WordArt styles to the text and manipulate the fill, outline, and effects for the text. The Text Effects command provides Shadow, Reflection, and Bevel effects as well as 3D rotation effects.
  • Text: This group provides commands that are used to format the text in the shape. You can change the text direction and alignment within the shape. In cases where you have created multiple text boxes (which again, can be any shape), you can link the shapes containing text together using the Create Link command. This enables the text to flow through the linked text containing shapes.
  • Arrange: This group enables you to position the shape (or multiple shapes on a canvas) with the text layer in a document. The Position command is used to specify whether the shape is inline with the text. The Wrap Text command is then used to specify how the text actually wraps around the shape. This group also provides the Bring Forward, Send Backward, and Group commands.
  • Size: This group contains the height and width spinner boxes, which can be used to size the selected shape.

If you have layered a number of shapes, you might find it difficult to select a specific shape, particularly a shape that is at the back or behind another shape. You can view a list of shapes and the canvas that they are associated with using the Selection Pane. Figure 4.14 shows the Selection pane.

Figure 4.14

Figure 4.14 The Selection and Visibility pane.

To select a particular shape, select the shape (by name) in the Selection pane. You can then use the Drawing Tools to format that particular shape.

At the bottom of the Selection pane is a Reorder area, which contains a Bring Forward and a Send Backward button. You can use these buttons to rearrange how the shapes listed are layered.

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