Modify AutoShapes, org charts, WordArt, Graph charts, and equations

Applies to
Microsoft Office Access 2003
Microsoft Office Excel 2003
Microsoft Office FrontPage® 2003
Microsoft Office Outlook® 2003
Microsoft Office PowerPoint® 2003
Microsoft Office Word 2003
Book cover This article was adapted from Microsoft Office System Inside Out by Michael J. Young and Michael Halvorson. Visit Microsoft Learning to buy this book.

This article summarizes the methods that you can use to modify any of the types of graphic objects, such as:



Organization charts and other types of diagrams

WordArt objects

Graph charts

Equations (as well as text boxes)

Keep in mind that the particular commands and features that are available for working with a given graphic object depend on the Office application you're using, the type of object, and the formatting features currently assigned to the object. The best way to work with a particular type of graphic object is to explore the four general approaches introduced in the following sections — use the mouse, use the Drawing toolbar, use the Format Object dialog box, use the shortcut menu — and discover exactly which commands are available for the object you're working with.

If Equation Editor, Microsoft Graph, Clip Organizer, or Picture Manager is not available, you may need to install the program.


If you originally installed Microsoft Office from a network file server or from a shared folder, you must install Equation Editor, Microsoft Graph, Clip Organizer, or Microsoft Office Picture Manager from that location. If you installed Office from a CD-ROM, you must install the program from the disc.

  1. Quit all programs.
  2. Do one of the following:
    • If you run Microsoft Windows 2000, double-click the Add/Remove Programs icon in Control Panel.
    • If you run Microsoft Windows XP, click Add or Remove Programs in Control Panel.
  3. In the Currently installed programs box, click the listing for Microsoft Office or the individual Office program, depending on whether you installed the program as part of Office or individually, and then click Change.
  4. On the Maintenance Mode Options screen, click Add or Remove Features, and then click Next.

If a Custom Setup screen appears, select the Choose advanced customization of applications check box, and then click Next.

  1. In the list of features to install:

For Equation Editor, Microsoft Graph, or Microsoft Office Picture Manager, click the expand indicator (+) next to Office Tools.

For Clip Organizer, click the expand indicator (+) next to Office Shared Features.

  1. Click the arrow next to the program you want to install, and then click Run from My Computer.
  2. Click Update.
  3. Restart the Office program you were using.

Use the mouse to resize, reshape, rotate, or move graphic objects

  • To change the dimensions of a graphic object, click it to select it and then drag one of the uncolored, round sizing handles that appear around the object, as shown.

Selected arrow object with sizing handles

  • To maintain the object's original proportions as you change its size, press SHIFT while dragging one of the corner sizing handles.
  • To resize the object symmetrically about its center (that is, to change the object's size without moving the position of its center), hold down CTRL while dragging a sizing handle.

 Note   Changing the size of a picture using the techniques above scales the picture. To learn about cropping a picture instead of scaling, see the article Import and modify pictures.

WordArt and AutoShapes

With WordArt objects, as well as some AutoShapes, Office displays a yellow, diamond-shaped reshaping handle. Dragging this handle lets you change some aspect of the object's shape, such as the angle of the sides of a trapezoid or the thickness of the shaft or the length of the head of an arrow, as shown.

Arrow object with yellow, diamond-shaped reshaping handle

The effect of dragging a reshaping handle varies widely among different types of AutoShape and WordArt objects.

  • To rotate a graphic object, drag the green, round rotation handle, as shown.

Arrow object with green, round rotation handle

  • To move a graphic object to a different position in your document, place the mouse pointer over the object (but not over a handle if the object is selected) and when the pointer displays the four-headed arrow handle, drag the object to the desired location.

Arrow object showing four-headed arrow handle

Alternatively, when an object is selected, you can use the keyboard to move it by pressing the appropriate arrow key: UP, DOWN, LEFT, or RIGHT. (You can't copy the object using the keyboard method. However, the advantage of the keyboard method is that you can precisely control the direction and amount of movement.)

  • To copy rather than move the object, hold down CTRL while you drag.

 Note   When you select a graphic object in Word that is assigned the In Line With Text wrapping style, Word sometimes displays rectangular sizing handles only, and you can't reshape or rotate the object using the methods described above. A workaround is to assign a different wrapping style, reshape or rotate the object as desired, and then switch back to the In Line With Text style. Also, because an object with the In Line With Text wrapping style is an integral part of the text and is treated like a single text character, you must move or copy it to a different position in the text using the standard methods for moving and copying text.

Use the Drawing toolbar to modify graphic objects

The Drawing toolbar in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and FrontPage provides a large, heterogeneous set of commands for creating and modifying graphic objects. To display this toolbar, on the View menu, point to Toolbars, and then click Drawing. Alternatively, you can click the Drawing toolbar button Button image.

By default, the Drawing toolbar appears in the lower-left corner of the program window.

Drawing toolbar

The Drawing toolbar contains three groups of buttons. To select and modify graphic objects, use the first group, as shown.

First group of buttons on Drawing toolbar

As when you work with document text, the general procedure for working with a graphic object is to first select the object and then perform an action on it. You can often select a graphic object by simply clicking it when you're in the normal Text Editing mode. Alternatively, you can click the Select Objects button (on the Drawing toolbar) to switch into Selection mode, which lets you easily select several objects at once. Selection mode also lets you select a Word object that's contained in the layer underneath text.

  • When you click the Select Objects button to switch to Selection mode, the pointer turns into an arrow slanting up and to the left. While in this mode, click the object you want to select. To select several objects so that you can perform some action on them simultaneously, drag a selection rectangle around all of them, as shown.

Selection rectangle with two objects

The selection rectangle must completely surround each object you want to include in the selection.

Alternatively, you can select several objects at once by pressing SHIFT while you click each one. This method allows you to select several objects in an area without selecting all the objects in this area. (To remove the selection from one of the objects, press SHIFT and click it again.) To switch off Selection mode so that you can work with text, click the Select Objects button again (this button toggles Selection mode on and off) or press ESC.

  • To delete the selected graphic object or objects, press DELETE.
  • To modify the selected graphic object or objects, click the Draw button and then click a command on the menu.

Draw menu

 Tip   The Draw menu in Word has a Text Wrapping submenu, which allows you to change the wrapping style of the selected object.

  • If you have selected several graphic objects, you can combine them into a single group so that you can work with them as a unit. To do this, choose the Group command on the Draw menu. You can later break apart the group into its constituent objects by selecting the group and choosing Ungroup from this same menu. (You can later choose Regroup to reestablish this same group without first selecting the individual objects that belonged to the group.)
  • To control the overlapping order of different drawing objects that intersect on the page, select an object, click the Draw button on the Drawing toolbar, point to Order on the menu, and click the appropriate command on the submenu, as shown.

Order submenu

  • You can also use commands on the Draw menu to align, move, rotate, or flip the selected object or objects, as shown.

Draw menu

 Tip   If you've spent some time inserting, sizing, and formatting a particular AutoShape and then realize that you would rather be working with a different type of AutoShape, you don't need to delete the object and start over. Rather, you can simply convert it to the AutoShape object you want. To do this, select the object, click Draw on the Drawing toolbar, point to Change AutoShape, and click the new type of AutoShape object you want.

You can experiment freely with all of the features discussed above. If you don't like the result of applying a particular feature or effect, use the Undo command to remove it. If you do like the result of a particular combination of effects that you applied to an AutoShape, you can make them the default effects to be applied to all AutoShapes that you subsequently draw. To do this, select the object that has the combination of effects you want and then on the Draw menu, click Set AutoShape Defaults.

  • To quickly insert new graphic objects, use the second group of buttons on the Drawing toolbar, as shown.

Second group of buttons on Drawing toolbar

  • To change the selected object's fill color or pattern, line color or style, or font color, or to add shadow or three-dimensional effects to the object, use the buttons in the third group on the Drawing toolbar, as shown.

Third group of buttons on Drawing toolbar

Modify selected graphic objects using the Drawing toolbar

To Click this button
Choose a fill color or effect Fill Color
Choose a line color or line pattern Line Color
Choose a color for text in a text box or in an AutoShape Font Color
Choose a solid line style Line Style
Choose a dotted or dashed line style Dash Style
Add (or change) an arrow on an AutoShape line Arrow Style
Add a shadow effect to the drawing object Shadow Style
Add a three-dimensional effect to the drawing object 3-D Style

The following example shows an AutoShape rectangle as it appeared when it was first inserted and then as it appears after a fill color and a three-dimensional effect are applied.

AutoShape rectangle example

Use the Format Object dialog box to format graphic objects

The Format Object dialog box provides the largest set of formatting options. The actual title of the dialog box depends on the type of selected graphic object — for example, Format Picture, Format AutoShape, or Format Diagram. To format an object using this dialog box, perform the following steps:

  1. Click the object to select it. (To select an object that is behind text in Word, you must first click the Select Objects button on the Drawing toolbar.)
  2. On the Format menu, click the Picture, AutoShape, Organization Chart, Diagram, WordArt, or Object command. The command name depends on the type of object you selected. (The command will be Format Object if you selected a Graph or Equation object.) The Format Object dialog box will open in that case.
  3. Select formatting options on the tabs of the dialog box. The specific tabs and options that are available depend on the type of graphic object you selected and the application you are using. If you selected a picture in Word, the Format Picture dialog box would be displayed as shown.

Format Picture dialog box

The table below shows what you can do on the six tabs of the Format Object dialog box. Note that some Office applications include additional tabs in the Format Object dialog box that aren't listed in the table below. These tabs have uses specific to the application. For example, Excel includes a Protection tab for locking objects in a protected worksheet and a Properties tab for controlling the positioning and printing of the object.

Modify graphic objects using the Format Object dialog box

To Use this tab
  • Select a background fill color


  • Set the color, style, and thickness of the lines used for drawing an AutoShape; or draw a border around other kinds of objects


  • Add arrows at the ends of an AutoShape line (or modify existing arrows)
Colors And Lines
Resize or rotate the object or restore its original size Size
Select the object's wrapping style and horizontal alignment (Word only) Layout (Word only)
For a picture, crop the picture, convert the picture colors (to Grayscale, Black & White, or Washout), or set the brightness and contrast of the picture colors Picture
For a text box, modify the margins between the text and the edges of the text box Text Box
Assign alternative text that a Web browser will display while the object is downloading if the object's file is missing or if graphics are disabled in the browser Web

Modify a graphic object using the shortcut menu

You can perform several of the operations discussed in this article by right-clicking a drawing object and clicking the command that accomplishes what you want on the shortcut menu that appears. The commands provided on this menu depend on the application you're using, the type of the drawing object, and the features you applied to it. Below is the shortcut menu for an AutoShape in Word.

AutoShape shortcut menu in Word

 Tip   If you right-click a closed AutoShape figure, such as an oval or star, the shortcut menu provides an interesting command that isn't available elsewhere: Add Text. This command lets you add text to the AutoShape object so that it functions just like a text box, but with an interesting shape, as shown. Explosion AutoShape with text

Applies to:
PowerPoint 2003