Make clip art look original in Publisher

By Mary Sauer, Microsoft MVP, and creator of the Clip Art & Media Help Web site

Applies to
Microsoft® Office Publisher 2003
Microsoft Office Small Business Edition 2003

The Microsoft Office Online Clip Art and Media Web site has more than 140,000 images. That's a lot of choices! If you're not an artist, this clip art can be the answer to spicing up your flyers, brochures, newsletters, and other publications with pictures. But you don't want your publications to look ready-made or just like everyone else's. In this article you'll learn:

  • What you should consider in your search for a picture and how to find the right clip that suits your needs.
  • How to use the Publisher drawing tools to manipulate clip art so that it looks original, achieves the right tone, and meets the needs of your publication. You'll see how to use drawing tools to:
    • Ungroup clip art and delete unwanted lines and other parts.
    • Resize a clip.
    • Recolor a clip.
    • Add a shadow.
    • Rotate a clip.
    • Layer clips.
    • Add three-dimensional (3-D) effects.

Using the right picture

Pictures and words work together. Words inform readers, but pictures set the feeling.

You choose the font for a publication to convey a special feeling. You should choose clip art just as carefully. The wrong picture can convey the wrong message, as shown in this community playhouse membership drive flyer.

The drama/comedy masks in the first community playhouse flyer are simple but effective symbols of the theater. They are neat, clean and inoffensive.

Community playhouse flyer with theater masks

The moneybags in the second flyer demonstrate a poor selection. Although a membership drive is about collecting funds, most readers do not like be hit over the head with such blatant solicitation.

Community playhouse flyer with moneybags

Searching for that perfect clip

Finding the perfect clip on the Clip Art and Media Web site is easy when you know what you have in mind. You can search the Web site from within Publisher by using the Clip Art task pane or you can go directly to the site's home page.

  • To open the Clip Art task pane, in Publisher, click the Insert menu, point to Picture, and then click Clip Art.

Clip Art task pane

After you type a search term into the Search for box and click Go, clips that match the search term appear in the task pane. You can click a clip in the task pane to insert it into your publication.

 Tip   You can limit your search results so that you get only clip art rather than photographs or other media types. Under Results should be, select Clip Art and clear the other check boxes.

If you decide that you want more search options, you can click Clip art on Office Online at the bottom of the task pane to open the Clip Art and Media Web site. On the Web site, you can limit searches by category or style, and you can choose many clips at one time to download and store in the Microsoft Clip Organizer for future use.

 Tip   To quickly add just one clip from the Web site to a publication, you can right-click the clip's thumbnail image, click Copy, and then paste it into your publication.

Searching by category

One of the most efficient ways to search on the Web site is to start with a category. For example, simple pictures of people always make good illustrations for business articles, so on the Clip Art and Media home page, under Browse Clip Art and Media Categories, you can click the People category.

Categories on the Clip Art and Media Web site

At the top of the home page, you can type words such as woman, desk, computer, or meeting, and then click Go.

Search bar on Clip Art and Media Web site

If you don't know what category to look in, choose keywords from your publication and use these in the search box. For example, if your article pertains to catering, choose words such as food, utensils, or waiter. You should find the perfect clip!

Searching by media type

You can also limit your search by media type (Clip art, Photos, or Animations, for example) before you enter specific terms. Click the arrow at the right side of the Search box, and choose Clip art. Then type your terms.

Search bar on the Clip Art and Media Web site

You can find the clips used in the community playhouse flyer, for example, by choosing Clip art in the Search box and typing theaters or money.

For more details about using the Clip Art and Media Web site, click a link in the See Also box.

Searching by style

Most clips have a style number. To add consistency to a publication, you can choose clips that all have the same style number.

  • To see the style number for a clip, right-click the clip on the Clip Art and Media Web site, and then click Properties. A preview window opens, and it looks something like this:

Clip Art preview window

When you click the style number (436 in the picture above), the Clip Art and Media Web site shows other clips in all categories that are similar in style.

 Tip   To avoid problems with downloading clips, remember to keep your Internet cache cleared. Symptoms of a full cache include:

  • Seeing generic clips with names such as Dglxasset.aspx when you search for clip art inside the Clip Organizer or using the Clip Art task pane in an Office program.
  • Receiving a "File cannot be found" message from Clip Organizer after you download a clip from the Web site.

Here is how you clear your cache:

  1. In Microsoft Internet Explorer, on the Tools menu, click Internet Options.
  2. Under Temporary Internet files, click Delete Files.

Part of General tab, Internet Options dialog box

Manipulating clips

The drawing tools in Publisher allow you the freedom to manipulate clip art into personalized, eye-catching illustrations. You're limited only by your imagination.

 Tip   After you modify a clip, you might want to save it so you can use it again. To save a modified clip, right-click it, and then click Save as Picture. In the Save As dialog box, for Save as type, choose a file format. If you'll be using the modified clip in print publications, save it in Microsoft Windows® Metafile (*.wmf) format. If you'll be using the clip in Web publications, click the Change button that is located to the right of Resolution, and choose Web (96 dpi). Then, save the clip in Graphics Interchange Format (*.gif). Choose a location for Save in, and then click Save.

Ungroup, resize, recolor, and flip theater clips

In your community playhouse flyer, you want to include a theater as part of a map that explains the theater's location. You find a great theater clip on the Web site, but it is too colorful and large for the purpose that you want it to serve.

Theater clip art

In its current form, it would just distract from the message, but you don't have to abandon the clip. You can resize it, ungroup it and delete unwanted parts, recolor it, and flip it horizontally so that it will serve exactly the purpose you want.


After you paste or insert the clip into your publication, the first step is to ungroup it. Ungrouping breaks a piece of clip art into individual parts. Now you can delete the parts that you don't want and regroup a simpler picture.

 Note   A clip that has been ungrouped and regrouped looks dimmed in your publication, but it prints sharp and clear.

Here's how to ungroup, delete parts, and regroup:

  1. If you don't see round handles surrounding the clip, click the clip to select it.
  2. On the Arrange menu, click Ungroup.
  3. When you see a message about converting an imported picture, click Yes.
  4. Beneath the ungrouped clip, you can see the Ungroup Objects icon Ungroup Objects icon. Click it.

Ungrouped clip art

The ungrouped clip is now covered with a bunch of little round selection handles. This is because you ungrouped the clip into all of its parts, and all the individual parts are selected.

  1. You are ready to delete unwanted parts. In the Zoom box Zoom box on the Standard toolbar, choose 200% to zoom in on the ungrouped clip. Click the page outside of the clip to cancel the selection.
  2. Select only the part that you want to delete, and then press DELETE.

For example, in the theater clip, you might delete the stars on the marquee, the colored panels on the windows, and the box that surrounds the entire clip (most clip art has a transparent surrounding box).

Clip with parts deleted

Tip     You can select several parts at a time by holding down the SHIFT key and clicking each part.

  1. When you have deleted all the unnecessary parts, drag a selection rectangle around the entire clip so that all of its remaining parts are selected.
  2. Click the Group Objects icon Group Objects icon.

Tip     If only one part is left after you delete the unwanted parts, you won't see the Group Objects icon Group Objects icon.

Another ungrouping example

The masks used in the community playhouse flyer provide another good example of the value of ungrouping and deleting parts. The original clip downloaded from the Clip Art and Media Web site has both masks in it. The goal is to use each mask separately.

First, the clip must be duplicated.

  • To duplicate a clip, select it and hold down the CTRL key. A plus sign (+) appears next to the pointer. Still holding down the CTRL key, drag until you see another copy of the clip.

Clip being duplicated

Now that you have two copies of the clip, you can ungroup each one and then delete one of the masks from each copy. That leaves you with two separate masks (the dimmed, shaded masks in the clips on the right) to use in the flyer.

Two copies with one mask deleted per copy


You can also resize a clip to make it fit your publication's needs.

Clip being resized

Here's how:

  1. Hold down the SHIFT key.
  2. Position the mouse pointer over one of the corner handles (the pointer becomes a two-headed arrow) and drag.
  3. Release the mouse button before you release the SHIFT key.

Now that the clip is simplified and resized, you are ready to recolor it so it creates less of a distraction.

Clip ready to be recolored

To recolor a clip, you have to select it first. After you click the entire clip, click again on a part that you want to recolor (dark gray circles surround the selected part).

 Tip   If the dark gray circles are difficult to see against the background color of the clip, you may want to ungroup the clip again so the parts are easier to identify. Selected parts in an ungrouped clip have white handles that stand out better. If you ungroup the clip to recolor it, be sure to group it again after you finish recoloring.

Here are some actions that you can take to recolor parts of a clip. All of the buttons mentioned below are on the Formatting toolbar. To display the Formatting toolbar, on the View menu, point to Toolbars and then click Formatting.

  • Change the fill color using the Fill Color button Fill Color button.
  • Change the line color using the Line Color button Line Color button.
  • Change line thickness or style using the Line/Border Style button Line/Border Style button.

Now you are ready to flip the clip horizontally so that it fits better in the available space.

Horizontally flipped clip

Here's how:

  1. Click the clip to select it.
  2. On the Arrange menu, point to Rotate or Flip, and then click Flip Horizontal (or Flip Vertical, depending on the clip you're flipping).

Recolor letter clips, rotate them, and add a shadow and 3-D effects

If you are trying to find clip art letters that you can use to build a word, the best approach is to search the Clip Art and Media Web site with the keyword alphabet or letters.

Letter clip art

You often won't want to use the letters that you find exactly as they are. To get rid of the boxes around these letters, for example, you can ungroup each letter and delete the box parts.

Letter clips after deleting unwanted parts

For a detailed explanation of how to ungroup a clip and delete unwanted parts, see the previous section of this article.

Recolor and add a shadow

Now that you have the nice plain letters you want, you can recolor them, change the line thickness, and add a shadow. Here's how:

  1. Click a letter to select it.
  2. On the Formatting toolbar, click the Fill Color button Fill Color button and choose the color you want.

 Note   If you don't see the Formatting toolbar, point to Toolbars on the View menu, and then click Formatting.

  1. Click the Line/Border Style button Line/Border Style button, and then click 1/4 point.
  2. Click the Line Color button Line Color button and choose the same color that you used for the fill.
  3. Click the Shadow Style Shadow Style button button, and then click Shadow Settings to open the Shadow Settings toolbar. Click the first button on the left of the toolbar to add a shadow to the letter. Click the other buttons to control the shadow's position.
  4. Repeat these same steps for each letter.

Now the letters look something like this:

Letter clips with shadows

 Tip   To align letters across the bottom or top, drag a selection handle around all the letters. On the Arrange menu, click Align or Distribute, and then click the type of alignment you want.


You can rotate the letters (and other clips and pictures) to fit a desired area or create a specific effect.

Rotated letter clips

Here's how:

  1. Click the clip to select it.
  2. Place the mouse pointer over the round green handle at the top of the object. When you see a circle around the green handle, drag until the object is at the angle you want.

Rotated clock clip

Tip     To rotate only the hands on the clock, first ungroup the clock clip, and then select just the hands part of the clip and rotate it.


You can also layer letters (and any other clips), sending some behind and bringing others forward.

Layered letter clips

Here's how:

  1. Place the clips that you want to layer on the page so that they overlap each other.
  2. Click a clip that you want to bring forward.
  3. On the Arrange menu, point to Order, and then click Bring Forward.
  4. Click a clip that you want to send back.
  5. On the Arrange menu, point to Order, and then click Send Backward.
3-D effects

You can experiment with three-dimensional (3-D) effects to change lighting direction, perspective, color, and surface texture.

Letter clips with 3-D effects

Here's how:

  1. Select the letter or other clip to which you want to apply 3-D effects.
  2. On the Formatting toolbar, click the 3-D Style button 3-D Style button, and then click 3-D Settings.
  3. On the 3-D Settings toolbar, choose the tilt, depth, direction, lighting, surface, and color options you want.

 Note   Microsoft provides third-party contact information to help you find technical support. This contact information may change without notice. Microsoft does not guarantee the accuracy of this third-party contact information.

About the Author

Mary Sauer is a Microsoft Publisher MVP who spends lots of time solving clip art problems for people in the Publisher discussion groups. She developed her Publisher expertise by creating flyers and brochures for community organizations. Get more information from her Clip Art & Media Help Web site.

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