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Add shapes and connectors

Add and format shapes

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Add shapes to your diagrams to communicate information, and include color and special effects for a professional look.

Add shapes

  1. Select the stencil that contains the shape you want to add.

  2. Select a shape, and drag it onto the drawing page.

  3. Point to the shape, and point to the arrow that indicates the direction of the next shape you want to add.

    Note: If you don’t see the AutoConnect arrows, select View and make sure AutoConnect is selected.

  4. Select the shape you want to add.

Select shapes

Task

Action

Select a single shape

Select Home > Pointer Tool, point to a shape until you see a four-headed arrow, and select the shape.

Select multiple shapes in a rectangular area

Select Home > Select > Area Select and drag a rectangle around the shapes.

Select multiple shapes in a freeform area

Select Home > Select > Lasso Select and drag a freeform lasso around the shapes.

Select multiple shapes separated by other shapes

Press Ctrl+Shift while selecting shapes.

Select a particular kind of object

Select Home > Select > Select by Type, select the type of object, and select OK.

Remove a shape from a multiple selection

Press Shift, and select the shape.

Cancel a selection

Select a blank area on the diagram, or press Esc.

Change a shape into another shape

  1. Select the shape you want to change.

  2. Select Home > Change Shape.

  3. Browse the shapes and stencils until you find a shape you want.

  4. Select a shape.
    All text and formatting applied to the original shape are applied to the new shape.

Rotate or flip shapes

Task

Action

Rotate a shape

Select a shape, and drag the rotation handle.

Rotate a shape 90 degrees

Select a shape, select Home > Position > Rotate Shapes, and select either Rotate Left 90° or Rotate Right 90°.

Flip a shape vertically

Select a shape, and select Home > Position > Rotate Shapes > Flip Vertical.

Flip a shape horizontally

Select a shape, and select Home > Position > Rotate Shapes > Flip Horizontal.

Rotate a shape precisely

Select a shape, select View > Task Panes > Size & Position, and type in new values for Angle.

Resize shapes

Task

Action

Resize a shape

Select a shape, and drag a selection handle or endpoint until the shape is the size you want.

Resize a shape proportionally

Select a shape, and drag a corner handle.

Resize a shape precisely

Select a shape, select View > Task Panes > Size & Position, and type in new values for Width, Height, or Length.

Move shapes

Task

Action

Move a shape

Select a shape and drag it to a new position.

Nudge a shape

Select a shape, and select an arrow key.

Move a shape one pixel at a time

Select a shape and press Shift while pressing an arrow key.

Move a shape precisely

Select a shape, select View > Task Panes > Size & Position, and type in new values for X, Y, Begin X, Begin Y, End X, or End Y.

Change the look of shapes

  1. Select a shape.

  2. On the Home tab, select style options:

    • Quick Styles - Select a line and fill combination.

    • Fill - Select a color, gradient, or pattern to fill the shape.

    • Line - Select the line color, line thickness, or type of line.

    • Effects - Select a shadow, reflection, glow, or 3-D effect.

Want more?

Create a shape

Format a shape

Shape basics: resize, format, move and add text to shapes

Shapes, arranged in diagrams, communicate information. Color and special effects can highlight important information, enhance your message, and give your diagram a professional look.

To add a shape to a diagram, select it from the stencil and drag it onto the page. When you see a vertical guideline, the shape is centered horizontally.

As I add another shape, guidelines show me when it’s aligned with the shape that’s already there.

I’m going to add one more shape.

Now let’s arrange and format the shapes. First, I’ll select them.

A few tips will come in handy.

Select a single shape or press Ctrl as you select multiple shapes in different parts of the diagram.

To clear your selection, select a blank area of the page.

When shapes are next to each other, select Home, then Select, and then Area Select to select them all at once. This works great for grouping shapes, or moving a section of the diagram to make room for more shapes.

Or, if you want to select all of the shapes in a diagram, select Home, then Select, and then Select All.

I’m going to select this rectangle, because I think a circle will work better here.

Then I'll select the circle. There!

To rotate a shape, select and drag its rotation handle or rotate a shape in 90-degree increments. To do this, I select Position, select Rotate Shapes, and choose a rotation direction. You can flip shapes this way, too, by choosing a flip direction.

If a shape isn’t the right size, resize it by dragging the selection handles.

Or enter an exact size. Select the shape. Then go to View, select Task Panes, and select Size & Position.

Type new values for Width, Height, or Length.

Then select a blank area.

My positioning isn’t quite right, so I’m going to drag this rectangle where I want it.

To get it just right, I’ll press arrow keys to nudge it to the next snap position on the ruler and on the grid. If I press Shift as I press the arrow keys, shapes move in finer increments.

Now, I’ll make this arrow stand out. To display all the color and effects options at once, I go to Home and select the More arrow in the Shape Styles group.

After I select the arrow shape, I select Fill, select Color, and choose a different color and then select Effects, select Shadow, and choose a shadow effect.

With my toolbox of shapes, colors, and effects, I can create simple or elaborate diagrams. Experiment with positioning and formatting shapes to achieve the look you want.

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