Create a SmartArt graphic

A SmartArt graphic is a visual representation of your information that you can quickly and easily create, choosing from among many different layouts, to effectively communicate your message or ideas. You can create SmartArt graphics in Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, and Word.

SmartArt graphic with slide text and layout gallery

In this article


Overview of creating a SmartArt graphic

Most content that is created by using Microsoft Office 2010 programs is textual, even though the use of illustrations improves understanding and memory and encourages action. Creating designer-quality illustrations can be challenging, especially if you are not a professional designer or you cannot afford to hire a professional designer. If you use versions of Microsoft Office earlier than Office 2007, you can spend a lot of time getting shapes to be the same size and to be aligned properly, getting your text to look right, and manually formatting the shapes to match the document's overall style. With SmartArt graphics, you can create designer-quality illustrations with only a few clicks of your mouse.

You can create a SmartArt graphic in Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, and Word. Although you cannot create in most other Office 2010 programs, you can copy and paste SmartArt graphics as images into those programs.

When you create a SmartArt graphic, you are prompted to choose a type of SmartArt graphic, such as Process, Hierarchy, Cycle, or Relationship. Each type of SmartArt graphics contains several different layouts. After you choose a layout, it is easy to switch the layout or type of a SmartArt graphic. Most of your text and other content, colors, styles, effects, and text formatting are automatically carried over to the new layout.

As you add and edit your content in the Text pane, your SmartArt graphic is automatically updated — shapes are added or removed as needed.

You can also add and remove shapes in your SmartArt graphic to adjust the structure of the layout. For example, even though the Basic Process layout appears with three shapes, your process may need only two shapes, or it may need five shapes. As you add or remove shapes and edit your text, the arrangement of the shapes and the amount of text within those shapes is updated automatically — maintaining the original design and border of the layout for your SmartArt graphic.

Applies to PowerPoint 2010    Because PowerPoint 2010 presentations often contain slides with bulleted lists, you can quickly convert slide text to a SmartArt graphic. In addition, you can animate your SmartArt graphic in PowerPoint 2010 presentations.

When you select a layout, placeholder text (such as [Text]) is displayed, so that you can see how your SmartArt graphic looks, nor is it displayed during a slide show. However, the shapes are always displayed and printed, unless you delete them. You can replace the placeholder text with your own content.

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What to consider when you create a SmartArt graphic

Before you create your SmartArt graphic, visualize what type and layout are best for displaying your data. What do you want to convey with your SmartArt graphic? Do you want a certain look? Since you can quickly and easily switch layouts, try different layouts (across types) until you find the one that best illustrates your message. Your graphic should be clear and easy to follow. Experiment with different types by using the table below as a starting point. The table is intended to help you get started and is not an exhaustive list.

Purpose of graphic Graphic type
Show non-sequential information List
Show steps in a process or timeline Process
Show a continual process Cycle
Show a decision tree Hierarchy
Create an organization chart Hierarchy
Illustrate connections Relationship
Show how parts relate to a whole Matrix
Show proportional relationships with the largest component on the top or bottom Pyramid
Draw a family tree with pictures Picture

Also, consider the amount of text that you have, because the amount of text often determines the layout that you use and how many shapes you need in the layout. In general, SmartArt graphics are most effective when the number of shapes and the amount of text are limited to key points. Larger amounts of text can distract from the visual appeal of your SmartArt graphic and make it harder to convey your message visually. However, some layouts, such as Trapezoid List in the List type, work well with larger amounts of text.

Some layouts for SmartArt graphics contain a fixed number of shapes. For example, the Opposing Arrows layout in the Relationship type is designed to show two opposing ideas or concepts. Only two shapes can correspond to text, and the layout cannot be changed to display more ideas or concepts.

The Opposing Arrows SmartArt graphic.

The Opposing Arrows layout with two opposing ideas

If you need to convey more than two ideas, switch to another layout that has more than two shapes for text, such as the Basic Pyramid layout in the Pyramid type. Keep in mind that changing layouts or types can alter the meaning of your information. For example, a layout with arrows pointing to the right, such as Basic Process in the Process type, has a different meaning from a SmartArt graphic with arrows going in a circle, such as Continuous Cycle in the Cycle type.

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Create a SmartArt graphic and add text to it

  1. On the Insert tab, in the Illustrations group, click SmartArt.

The Illustration group, on the Insert tab, in PowerPoint 2010.
An example of the Illustration group on the Insert tab, in PowerPoint 2010

  1. In the Choose a SmartArt Graphic dialog box, click the type and layout that you want.
  2. Enter your text by doing one of the following:
    • Click [Text] in the Text pane, and then type your text.
    • Copy text from another location or program, click [Text] in the Text pane, and then paste your text.

 Notes 

  • If the Text pane is not visible, click the control.

Text Pane control

  • Click in a box in the SmartArt graphic, and then type your text. For best results, use this option after you add all of the boxes that you want.

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Add or delete shapes in your SmartArt graphic

  1. Click the SmartArt graphic that you want to add another shape to.
  2. Click the existing shape that is located closest to where you want to add the new shape.
  3. Under SmartArt Tools, on the Design tab, in the Create Graphic group, click the arrow under Add Shape.

The Create Graphic group on the Design tab under SmartArt Tools

If you don't see the SmartArt Tools or Design tabs, make sure that you've selected the SmartArt graphic. You may have to double-click the SmartArt graphic to open the Design tab.

  1. Do one of the following:
    • To insert a shape after the selected shape, click Add Shape After.
    • To insert a shape before the selected shape, click Add Shape Before.

 Notes 

  • To add a shape from the Text pane, click an existing shape, move your cursor before or after the text where you want to add the shape, and then press ENTER.
  • To delete a shape from your SmartArt graphic, click the shape you want to delete, and then press DELETE. To delete your entire SmartArt graphic, click the border of your SmartArt graphic, and then press DELETE.

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Change the colors of an entire SmartArt graphic

You can apply color variations that are derived from the theme colors (theme colors: A set of colors that is used in a file. Theme colors, theme fonts, and theme effects compose a theme.) to the shapes in your SmartArt graphic.

  1. Click your SmartArt graphic.
  2. Under SmartArt Tools, on the Design tab, in the SmartArt Styles group, click Change Colors.

SmartArt Styles group on the Design tab under SmartArt Tools

If you don't see the SmartArt Tools or Design tabs, make sure that you've selected a SmartArt graphic. You may have to double-click the SmartArt graphic to open the Design tab.

  1. Click the color variation that you want.

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Apply a SmartArt Style to a SmartArt graphic

A SmartArt Style is a combination of various effects, such as line style, bevel, or 3-D, that you can apply to the shapes in your SmartArt graphic to create a unique and professionally designed look.

  1. Click your SmartArt graphic.
  2. Under SmartArt Tools, on the Design tab, in the SmartArt Styles group, click the SmartArt Style that you want.

To see more SmartArt Styles, click the More button button image.

Tips    

  • To start with a blank layout, delete all the placeholder text (such as [Text]) in the Text pane, or press CTRL+A and then press DELETE.
  • To resize your entire SmartArt graphic, click the border of your SmartArt graphic, and then drag the sizing handles in or out until your SmartArt graphic is the size that you want.
  • If you already have text on a PowerPoint slide, you can convert slide text to a SmartArt graphic.
  • If you're using PowerPoint, you can animate your SmartArt graphic to emphasize each shape or each hierarchical level.

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