An Extreme Tutorial in Drawing Tools in Microsoft Office
I hope to offer a substantial amount of information on using Drawing tools in
Microsoft Office. I do not cover inserting diagrams or other objects, but just
the standard drawing objects. I do not cover the Shadow and 3D tools because
these are fairly self-explanatory in that you select an object and choose the
A few things you should do if you expect to get the most out of this tutorial
and out of Microsoft Office. If you are at all familiar with other graphic
programs, you'll be glad to know that Drawing tools has many of the same basic
If you see only a menu bar and one toolbar in your application, first go to
Tools4Customize and set them as shown below. Our
screen capture is from Office 2003, but there are similar options in other
versions. Be sure that you choose options to show toolbars on two rows (not one)
and that you're always seeing all menu options.
Create ALL Your Drawings in PowerPoint
If I am about to embark on a larger project where I will have
multiple drawings, I use PowerPoint to create my drawings. When you are done
with all the components of your drawing, group them. Copy the drawing, which is
now one piece, and paste into the application in which you intend to use it.
Here's why this method works well:
PowerPoint is easier to use for drawings. It's as simple as
Use one slide for each drawing.
Saves an editable copy of your drawing.
Doesn't save all the information about each component of your
drawing in your final document, which saves electronic size.
Keeps others from being able to easily copy and edit your
Drawing Canvas in Word
I hate the Drawing Canvas and I understand that it's not
backward compatible, so I never use it. To turn it off in Word 2002 and above,
go to Tools4Options, General tab. Untick
"Automatically create drawing canvas...".
Show the Drawing Tools Toolbar
As with everything, there are several ways to accomplish this. I leave mine
on all the time.
- Right-click any Toolbar and choose Drawing
Tools4Customize, Toolbars tab, choose Drawing
and hit Close
- Hit the Drawing Toolbars icon on the standard toolbar (the below screen
capture happens to show Word, but it is similar in all the applications, but
it is not available in PowerPoint, which opens the Drawing toolbar by default)
Understand the Options of the Drawing Toolbar
Here we cover all the components of the Drawing toolbar. There are many that
I have not used. I do not cover many shortcut keys that could be used, nor do I
cover the right-click menu because it changes from one application to the next.
If items are grayed out on any menus, it is likely because you don't have an
object selected and you should, or because you do have an object selected and
you should not.
I do not cover the Drawing toolbar in the order in which the
options appear. Instead, I cover it in the order in which you're likely to use
Click the rectangle tool.
Then click on your page and drag to the approximate size you
need. When you're done, you'll see something like this:
Try drawing another rectangle, but hold the shift key down while
you do so. This gives you a perfect square. Likewise, if you chose the Oval
tool, you'd get a perfect circle.
For other shapes, use the AutoShapes button. Click on the shape
you want and then click and drag on your page. Holding the Shift key will
constrain your object to be evenly sized vertically and horizontally.
If you want to resize an object, but leave it in the same spot
(you don't want to enlarge to the left or right...), then hold the Ctrl key
while you click and drag or while you drag from a corner handle. (Sorry. I
cannot seem to get a screen capture of it because my screen capture's hotkey
interferes, so please try it yourself.) Also try holding Shift and Ctrl while
you click and drag a new object.
Hold the Ctrl key down while you drag an object to another
location. This will copy it.
Select the object and hit Ctrl+D to duplicate it. Watch what
happens if you manually align the first duplicated object with the original,
then hit Ctrl+D again. The next object is spaced and placed just as if you had
manually moved it as well.
First Object Duplicated
You can easily align objects perfectly. Suppose you need a bunch
of items. Just hit Ctrl+D to duplicate. Select them all and hit Draw4Align
or Distribute and choose your alignment option.
To ensure that your objects are spaced perfectly, use Draw4Align
or Distribute, and choose a Distribution.
Ordering your objects is front to back or back to front. You
might think of this as layers or layering. Suppose you want the square behind
the circle? Select the square, then Draw4Order4Send
to Back. If you have multiple objects, you may only want to choose Send
Backward, which will send it back only one layer.
Once I have made all the components of my drawing, and it is complete, I hit
Ctrl+A to select everything and then Draw4Group.
This makes all my items become one object.
When not in PowerPoint, use the Drawing toolbar's Selector tool to draw a box
around all of the drawing's components, and then Group.
If grouping only several items, click the first one and hold the Shift key
down and click on each item.
While you work, you may have "sets" of objects that you'd like to copy/paste,
such as a button with text on it. You can group some objects and copy and paste
that way, then ungroup them.
Items selected for grouping (note the "handles):
Items after grouping (note how the "handles" changed):
Tip: There is no need to create a textbox to place text
on top of a shape. Just click the shape, and begin typing.
We've got many choices here. It might be nice to use colors that match your
logo or other corporate identity. Often, people use too many colors, which
distracts from the content.
Use the "Fill Bucket" to fill in. Hit More Fill Colors if you don't like the
default colors available.
Choose any color from the Standard colors. See how the new color
compares to the old at the bottom-right of this dialog.
Use Custom if you'd like to match another color for which you
have the RGB (Red, Green, Blue) values, or if you're looking to lighten or
darken the same shade (note the column of color at the right of the dialog for
shades of the currently selected color).
I often see asked how you would show an overlap of two ellipses.
Use the fill color dialog, above, and set the transparency. This way, two colors
blend. We all know that red and blue make purple. These two circles are set at
Tip: Use the F4 key. If you set an object to be blue, try
selecting another object and hit F4, which will turn that object blue as well.
F4 repeats the last command in many cases.
You can connect objects, for instance, to depict a flowchart, by using Line
connectors. Choose AutoShapes4Connectors and choose
a connector type.
When you place your cursor over an object, the "connection nodes" become
When you click and drag a connector line from one object to
another, the second object's connector modes appear. (As you can see, the
objects below were not first properly aligned, or we'd have a straight connector
line, not a crooked one.
You can fill an odd-shaped object you've drawn by first drawing it with the
You must click and drag to enclose the object in order to be
able to fill it.
To draw a curve, choose the Curve tool.
Click at each point where you'd like the curve to have a bend.
Double-click to stop drawing the curve.
The following graphic demonstrates at each point where we
clicked to get it to bend the way it does.
Border and Outline
The shapes we used above have the default outline on them. You can remove it
if you don't want it by choosing No Line, or change the color or style using the
Line Color tool.
Make the outline thicker, thinner, or different using the Line Style
Creating Cool Graphics
While I would never do it because I have some pretty hefty graphics software,
some people know how to create incredible graphics using PowerPoint. A client of
mine recently sent me a template he purchased, and he wanted the colors changed
to match his logo. In changing the colors, I learned a lot. (However, I don't
suggest dark or busy backgrounds such as this one for anything but the shortest
Here's a piece of one of his templates to demonstrate the capability. By the
way, he is GuildDesign, Inc. and the template appears to have been purchased
from wwwThemeGallery.com. For about
$24, you could quickly learn how these are created.
I liked the way the "button" was created. Selecting and ungrouping sheds a
little more light on it.
The first Ungroup I performed separated the Title textbox from the object.
The second time I hit Ungroup showed us that his graphic is several Ovals that
have been creatively shaded using gradient fills. I'm a firm believer that this
requires artistic talent. As you delete each layer, you see the objects
underneath. Incredible, right?
To create arrows, use the Arrow tool and click on the "from" location and
drag to the "to" location, which is where you want the arrow's point to appear
Change the arrow's head (the default size is too small if you ask me) by
selecting it, and using the Arrow Style Tool.
Arrows are just like any other line and their thickness can be
changed using the Line Style tool.
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