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Microsoft Word 2010 : Adding Graphics to Your Documents - Drawing Shapes in Word (part 1) - Drawing an AutoShape

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9/8/2014 9:19:55 PM

Word includes a set of drawing tools that enables you to draw many different geometric shapes directly in a document. These tools are handy for drawing a simple organization chart or diagram, or for adding a quick callout to a photo.

Although it is possible to draw freeform polygons in Word, the freehand tools can be difficult to master. If you need to create freeform graphics such as curves, arcs, or wavy lines, I suggest getting a low-cost drawing program that enables you to create vector graphics and then paste those drawings into your Word documents. (Vector graphics are defined as lines, closed shapes, and fills. This is different from photos and some clip art graphics, which are bitmapped images, defined as a collection of dots or pixels.)

This section focuses on the most basic geometric shapes—such as lines, boxes, and block arrows—which Word provides as AutoShapes. AutoShapes are pre-drawn line art graphics. After inserting an AutoShape into a document, you can modify it in a variety of ways. Many closed AutoShapes (such as boxes and circles) can even hold text.

AutoShapes are flexible but very basic. They’re great if you need to add a simple block arrow or a big smiley face to a document, but it can take a lot of formatting to make them real eye-catchers. If you need a text box, org chart, or some other diagram that looks like it was created by a graphic designer, use Word’s SmartArt feature.


Drawing an AutoShape

Word has more than 100 built-in AutoShapes, ranging from simple lines to complicated 2-D geometric shapes. When you add an AutoShape to document, the shape is surrounded by handles. You can use the handles to resize the object.

Most AutoShapes, such as circles and triangles, are closed geometric forms, meaning their defining lines come together in some way so that the shape’s interior is totally separated from the area surrounding the shape. Lines and arcs are examples of open shapes. This is important to understand because you can fill a closed shape with color or a pattern, or even place text within its borders.

Inserting an AutoShape

The following steps show you how to insert an open AutoShape (a line) and a closed one (a rectangle) into a document:

1.
On the Insert tab, click Shapes. A drop-down menu of available AutoShapes opens, as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1. Selecting an AutoShape to insert into a document.


2.
Click the Line icon. The mouse pointer turns into a plus sign (+), so you can draw the line.

3.
In your document, click where you want the line to start; then drag in the direction the line should travel.

4.
When you reach the point where the line should end, release the mouse button. Word inserts the line, which has a round selection handle at each end (see Figure 2). The line is anchored to the nearest paragraph.

Figure 2. An example of a line inserted as an AutoShape.


5.
Click away from the line to deselect it.

6.
Return to the Insert tab, click Shapes, and then click the Rectangle icon.

7.
In your document, click where you want any corner of the rectangle to appear; then drag in any direction to create a rectangle of any size.

8.
When the rectangle is the desired size and shape, release the mouse button. Notice that the rectangle is a solid color. The rectangle isn’t actually a solid object. It’s actually a thin outline that’s filled with color; by default, both the outline and fill are the same color. As shown in Figure 3, the rectangle is surrounded by the same kind of selection handles as a photo or a piece of clip art .

Figure 3. An example of a filled rectangular AutoShape, with its selection handles.


9.
Click anywhere outside the rectangle to deselect it.

When an AutoShape is selected, the Drawing Tools Format tab appears on the Ribbon. The tab displays some tools for all AutoShapes, but some other tools appear only when a specific type of AutoShape is selected.

All AutoShapes have selection handles, but their locations depend on the type of shape you draw. Generally speaking, you can use the handles to resize an AutoShape the same way you can resize a picture or clip art graphic.

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