Adding title blocks to Visio diagrams

Applies to
Microsoft Office Visio® 2003
Inside Out Visio 2003 Image This article was excerpted from Microsoft® Office Visio® 2003 Inside Out by Mark H. Walker and Nanette Eaton, Chapter 4, "Adding Text to Shapes and Diagrams." Visit Microsoft Learning to buy this book.

In this article

Using shapes to add information to a diagram

Tips for formatting title blocks


Creating a custom title block for a technical drawing

Saving a customized title block

Using shapes to add information to a diagram

Visio includes a number of shapes for adding titles and file information to a diagram. Title blocks are the area traditionally used to specify important information on technical drawings, including blueprints, schematics, and mechanical drawings. The Borders And Titles stencil includes fun and informal title block shapes for identifying a diagram, its author, creation date, and so on. In addition, Visio 2003 Professional includes several styles of formal title block shapes that conform to appropriate standards for different paper sizes. Figure 1 shows title block shapes and both informal and technical title blocks created with Visio shapes.

Visio title blocks

Figure 1. Visio includes an assortment of title blocks that you can use to provide identifying information in a diagram or technical drawing.

Many Visio templates open a stencil that contains appropriate text and title shapes. However, when you start a drawing from scratch, you need to open the stencils you want. Here are some places to look for preformatted title blocks:

  • Borders And Titles stencil     This stencil contains more than 30 styles of border and title shapes, some of which display today's date automatically. To open this stencil, click the Shapes button on the Standard toolbar, and then choose Visio Extras, Borders And Titles.

Borders and Titles

  • Title Blocks stencil (Visio Professional only)     This stencil includes standard-sized title blocks as well as shapes that represent individual blocks (date, drawn by, description, and more). To open this stencil in Visio Professional, click the Shapes button on the Standard toolbar, and then choose Visio Extras, Title Blocks.

Title Blocks

The ready-made title block shapes are actually groups. When you click a title block, the entire group is selected; then, you can click an individual shape to subselect it. To add your information, subselect a shape in the title block, and then type.

Most of the title blocks from the Borders And Titles stencil are designed so that if you just click and type, the text Title is replaced by your typing. However, when you use the title blocks from the Title Blocks stencil, it's better to subselect the individual block you want to type in.

Some title blocks include fields as placeholders for time, date, or file information, as Figure 2 shows. If you drag a title block onto the page and it displays today's date, then you know the shape includes a field. You want to take care not to overwrite the field when you add text, unless you intend to remove it. You can insert another field if you like or edit the field's format so that it displays the information differently.

Title Block Elegant shape

Figure 2. The Title Block Elegant shape on the Borders And Titles stencil includes a field that displays the date in long form.

 Note   On the Borders And Titles stencil, some title blocks are smarter than others. For example, when you type a long title in the Title Block Contemp. shape, the shape is resized to accommodate all of your text. If you type a long title in the Title Block Jagged shape, the text can extend beyond the shape's borders. You have to stretch the shape manually to fit your title (or choose a smaller font size).

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Tips for formatting title blocks

This section applies primarily to the shapes on the Borders And Titles stencil, which are designed to add winsome flair to routine office diagrams. But perhaps you'd like that Title Block Retro shape a little better if the swooshes were green, or maybe Title Block Jagged would be perfect if only it didn't have the stripes. Or maybe you resized the title block and got strange results. It's easier to format the title block shapes than to resize them. Because the title blocks are groups, they consist of multiple shapes, some of which can be typed in, formatted, sized, and deleted, and some of which cannot.

To format a shape that's part of a group, you must subselect the shape. If you use the Pointer tool, you click once to select the group and then click a second time to subselect a shape in the group. Then you can use any of the formatting tools to change line, fill, and font color and other attributes.

Sometimes it's easiest to work with groups in the group window. This is a separate window that displays the shapes as if they were not grouped, as Figure 3 shows. When you click a shape in the group window, the shape is selected; you don't have to subselect it (unless the group includes a group, which sometimes happens). To open a group in the group window, select the group, and then choose Edit, Open <group> where <group> is the shape's name (at the bottom of the Edit menu). For example, the command name for the title block shown in Figure 3 is Open Title Block Small.

 Tip   You may name a group. Select the group, and then click Format, Special. Type in the name of the group and click OK.

Open group in new window

Figure 3. When you select a group and then choose Edit, Open, the group appears in a new window so that you can more easily work with individual shapes in the group.

Many of the individual shapes that make up a title block are locked. When you subselect the shape, padlock handles appear. Usually the shape has been locked to prevent you from resizing it, because the group contains SmartShape formulas that automatically control the size of the title block, and stretching a shape would interfere with the formulas. However, some shapes are also locked against deletion, but if you really want to delete a shape from a title block, you should be able to — but be aware that the group behavior might change as a result. If that happens, and you are unhappy with the consequences, you can simply drag a fresh title block from the stencil.

To see what kind of protection locks a shape has, subselect the shape, and then choose Format, Protection. The selected check boxes in the Protection dialog box indicate what is protected, as shown in Figure 4. If you clear a check box, you remove that lock. For example, you can clear the Deletion box so that you can delete a shape (such as the striped background on Title Block Jagged). If the shape has other locks, you'll still see the padlock handles even after you clear one of the locks.

Protection dialog box

Figure 4. Padlock handles appear around a subselected shape in a group when a protection has been set for the shape. Here, the shape is protected against changing its width and height and protected from deletion.

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A title block shape resizes unevenly when stretched

If you try to resize a title block and encounter obstacles — part of the title block resizes and part does not, or it doesn't all resize the same amount — you have encountered a side effect of width-height protection locks. Some of the title block shapes are rather inflexible and work best only at their original size with text no longer than the word Title. That seems like bad behavior for a SmartShape symbol, but you can work around it if you really want to use a particular shape. You can try unlocking all the shapes in the group so that they resize the way you want. Or you can ungroup the title block (Shape, Grouping, Ungroup) and reassemble it as you want. Visio warns you that the action will sever the object's link to its master. Click OK anyway. You can always drag another master shape onto the page if you want to start over with the original.

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Creating a custom title block for a technical drawing

You can assemble a customized title block for technical drawings using the shapes on the Title Blocks stencil, which is included only with Visio Professional. Title blocks usually appear in the same form in a variety of drawings. If you need a title block to conform to a particular standard, you can piece together a suitable title block from the shapes on this stencil.

A variety of block shapes include fields that display file and system information, such as file name, date, and page number. Visio uses the file and page properties to display this information in the field. You can use the frame shape to set up the border of the title block and then insert the block and other shapes as required. When you're done, you can group the shape (Shape, Grouping, Group) to make it easier to move and work with the title block.

In a technical drawing, or any diagram where you want the same title to appear on every page, you can drag a title block shape onto a background page. As long as your foreground pages are assigned to display the background, the title block will appear on every page. Another advantage of using a background page is that it frees you to change page settings, such as drawing scale, on the foreground page.

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Saving a customized title block

You can save a customized title block as a new master shape on a stencil, so that you can reuse it in other drawings.

Follow these steps to save a customized title block:

  1. Using the Open Stencil button, open the stencil in which you want to save the title block. Do one of the following:
    • To open an existing stencil, click the Shapes button on the Standard toolbar, and then locate and select the stencil you want.
    • To create a new stencil, choose File, Shapes, New Stencil or click the Shapes button on the Standard toolbar and select New Stencil.
  2. Drag the title block (or a copy) from the drawing page into the stencil's window.

If you're dragging into an existing stencil open as read-only, Visio asks whether you want to edit the stencil to complete the operation. Click Yes.

Visio creates a new master shape and an icon with a default name for the title block.

  1. Right-click the new master shape, and then select Master Properties to enter a name and other options for the master. Click OK.

 Tip   You can also create a template that includes the title block in the correct position, so that every time you start a drawing, the information you want is already there. For example, in a technical drawing, or any diagram where you want the same title to appear on every page, you can place the title block on a background page. Then use the Save As command to save the drawing as a template (.vst) file.

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Applies to:
Visio 2003