Use AutoShapes to create drawings

Applies to
Microsoft Office Excel 2003
Microsoft Office FrontPage® 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.

Use AutoShapes to create drawings

As an alternative to importing graphics, you can create drawings within Word, Excel, PowerPoint, or FrontPage by using AutoShapes. An AutoShape is a predefined or free-form figure—such as a line, oval, cube, flowchart symbol, banner, or free-form scribble—that you can quickly insert into a document and then customize.

To insert an AutoShape:

  1. On the Insert menu, point to Picture, and then click AutoShapes.
  2. On the AutoShapes toolbar, click the button for the type of shape you want to insert.

This opens a drop-down menu of AutoShapes belonging to that category, as shown below:

AutoShapes toolbar

  1. Click the button for the particular shape you want to insert.

Notice that when you hold the mouse pointer over a button, a ScreenTip (ScreenTip: A short description that appears when the user holds the mouse pointer over an object, such as a button or hyperlink.) displays a description of the shape, as shown below:

ScreenTip for an AutoShape

  1. To insert a standard-sized AutoShape, click the position in your document where you want to display the shape. (You can later change its size, shape, or position.)

Inserted AutoShape

  1. To give the AutoShape a specific initial size and shape, press the mouse button and drag to create the figure.

AutoShape being resized

 Tip   Don’t be misled by the label of the More AutoShapes button. It doesn’t insert just AutoShapes. Rather, it displays the Clip Art task pane so you can insert pictures or other media clips, in addition to the AutoShapes contained in the Clip Organizer.

Word and the drawing canvas and Drawing toolbar

Drawing canvas

In a Word document, when you click a button to insert an AutoShape, Word automatically inserts a graphic object known as a drawing canvas. A drawing canvas is a rectangular area that can contain one or more AutoShapes. The automatically inserted drawing canvas initially contains the message “Create Your Drawing Here.” However, you can insert the AutoShape anywhere in the document—you don’t need to put it within the drawing canvas. (Word removes the drawing canvas if you place the AutoShape outside of it.) You can also remove the drawing canvas by pressing the ESC key after you select a drawing tool but before you begin drawing.

A drawing canvas is primarily useful for creating a drawing consisting of two or more separate AutoShapes. The drawing canvas preserves the relative positions of these AutoShapes and prevents them from getting separated by page breaks or intervening text. The drawing canvas also makes it easy to move the entire set of AutoShapes in the drawing as a unit.

To insert a blank drawing canvas in a Word document, on the Insert menu, point to Picture, and then click New Drawing.

Drawing toolbar

You might find it more convenient to use the Drawing toolbar to insert an AutoShape rather than the AutoShape toolbar. (When you display the AutoShapes toolbar, the Drawing toolbar also displays.) If the Drawing toolbar isn’t visible, you can view it by pointing to Toolbars on the View menu, and then clicking Drawing. The Drawing toolbar lets you insert any type of AutoShape; you can insert some of the more common ones with a single button click. To see the name of a toolbar button in a ScreenTip, rest your mouse pointer on the button.

Drawing toolbar

 Note   Occasionally, you may insert one or more AutoShapes, diagrams, or organization charts into a Word document and they may "disappear" from the document. In actuality, the AutoShapes, diagrams, or organization charts are hidden from view. This can happen when:

  • You’re viewing the document in Normal or Outline view. To insert or view AutoShapes, diagrams, or organization charts, you must be in Web Layout, Print Layout, Print Preview, or Reading Layout view. If you aren’t in one of these views when you insert one of these objects, Word automatically switches to Print Layout view. However, if you later change to Normal or Outline view, the objects disappear.
  • The Drawings view option is turned off. Word won’t display these graphic objects—even in Web Layout or Print Layout view—if this option is off. (Print Preview and Reading Layout views always display graphic objects.) To turn on this option, on the Tools menu, click Options. Click the View tab, and then under Print And Web Layout Options, select the Drawings check box.
Applies to:
PowerPoint 2003