Microsoft Word gives you a lot of cool features that you can use to easily jazz up a document, but a lot of people never try them out. In this article, I show you a number of ways you can use the AutoShapes tool on the Drawing Toolbar. The AutoShapes feature may seem like just a bunch of unusual shapes you can place on a page, but there are a lot of ways you can use these shapes. You may not have realized all the weird and wonderful things you can create with such as seemingly simple tool.
To get started, you need to show the Drawing toolbar. Choose View|Toolbars|Drawing to turn on your Drawing Toolbar.
Now notice the gray bar across the AutoShapes menu. This indicates that this menu is a snap off toolbar. When you choose View|Toolbars, you won't see the AutoShapes Toolbar listed as a standard Toolbar that you can display. So you may have thought that you have to continually click AutoShapes on the Drawing Toolbar to get at AutoShapes. But instead, you can click on that gray line and snap off the AutoShapes toolbar from the main toolbar so you can have the AutoShapes Toolbar handy all the time you're working with it. Word offers several snap off toolbars. Anytime you see the gray bar on the top of a menu, it means you can snap it off. Once you have snapped off the toolbar, you can concentrate on this toolbar and move it around wherever you need it.
For certain types of documents, callouts can be one of the most useful AutoShapes. You can use callouts to point out specific items in an image. You can place an image on a page and then document the item by adding a Callout. You can make your callout point out anything from a button in a dialog box bitmap to a callouts that point out a particular person in a picture.
By selecting the callout and right clicking, you can choose the Format AutoShape option to display the formatting dialog box where you can choose various settings to customize the look of your Callout. Thought callouts are another variety that can be fun. Add a few thought callouts to images in a document and e-mail the visual commentary to family and friends.
In a more serious vein, maybe you need to write up some documentation or a report for your office. Rather than just writing a lot of boring text in the report, use AutoShapes to add some interest to your report by creating a diagram to show the readers how a certain process should work. (You may be surprised when you find colleagues have your diagram pinned up at their desks to give them a quick reminder of the workflow plan.) To insert text into an AutoShape, right click it and choose Add Text.
By clicking the Draw icon on the Drawing Toolbar, you can easily adjust alignment and distribution to make your images line up, easily.
You can also insert an image into an AutoShape to create a very nice effect for creating fun cards or maybe an invitation.
To add an image to an AutoShape, select the shape you want from the AutoShape Toolbar. Click and drag to draw it out on the page. Now click to select the AutoShape and then right click it and choose Format AutoShape. Choose the Color and Lines tab. Click the drop down on the Fill option and choose Fill Effects.
In the Fill Effects dialog box, click the Picture tab and browse to locate the picture you want to insert. The picture you choose will be inserted within the boundaries of the AutoShape you've selected.
Once a picture is inserted into an AutoShape, you can still include text.
And to further enhance your page, you can add a Hyperlink to an AutoShape. So you can send someone a document, include an AutoShape with an image, add some text to explain what the image is about and then add a hyperlink so when the user clicks the image, they'll be taken to another document or even a web page where they can view those vacation pictures. Or maybe write a nice thank you note in a document and add a link so your guests can click and go see the pictures from your party! To add a hyperlink to an AutoShape, just select the AutoShape, right click it and choose Hyperlink.
Now the next time you think the document you created is just a little too boring, do something about it. Add some cool AutoShapes!