Insert and Format Graphic Elements

A picture is worth a thousand words. Our brains can process visual information much faster than words, so adding graphical elements to your document is a great way to communicate your message. This module takes a closer look at a few options within Word. 

We’ll start with inserting different types of graphic elements, including shapes, pictures, screenshots and text boxes. Then we’ll look at how to format and apply different effects to those graphics. Finally, we’ll dive into SmartArt to learn how to insert these elements, format them, and modify their content. 

Insert Graphic Elements 

Topics in this Lesson Insert shapes Insert pictures Insert a full-size screenshot Insert a screen clipping Insert a text box 

Insert Shapes 

Shapes are the foundation of graphic elements in Word. You can do many things with shapes, both basic and advanced. Word has a number of built-in shapes for you to easily draw to enhance your documents. 

Here’s how to insert shapes. 

  1. Select the Insert tab from the Ribbon. 
  1. Select Shapes
  1. Select the shape you want to use. 
  1. Hold down the mouse button from the location in the document where you want to place the top left of the shape. Drag down and to the right until the shape is the desired size.  

Insert Pictures 

You can insert any picture file from your computer or other media drive using the Insert Picture tool. 

Here’s how to insert pictures. 

  1. Select the Insert tab from the Ribbon. 
  1. Select Pictures
  1. Navigate to the location of the file and highlight the file you want to insert. 
  1. Select Insert

Word inserts the picture.  

Insert a Full-Size Screenshot 

You can capture an image of your screen and add it to your document using a screenshot. 

Here’s how to insert a full-size screenshot. 

  1. Select the Insert tab from the Ribbon. 
  1. Select Screenshot
  1. The Screenshot gallery includes a thumbnail image of other windows you have open. Select the image that you want to insert. 

Word inserts the image and may scale it to the width of your document. 

Insert a Screen Clipping 

If you don’t want the full screen for a screenshot, you can capture a screen clipping that just shows part of your screen. 

Here’s how to insert a screen clipping. 

  1. Make sure that the area of the screen you want in your document is ready to capture. Word will automatically return to the previous window for a screen clipping. 
  1. Select the Insert tab from the Ribbon. 
  1. Select Screenshot
  1. Select Screen Clipping
  1. Drag the mouse to capture the area of the screen that you want to insert in your document. The screen is slightly opaque, except for the area you are capturing. 
  1. When you release your mouse, Word inserts the screen clipping into the document at the current cursor position. 

Insert a Text Box 

Text boxes give you the freedom to enter text anywhere on the page, such as for creating call outs or side bars. You simply draw the text box wherever you want it and enter the desired text. 

Here’s how to insert a text box. 

  1. Place your cursor where you want the text box to appear in the document. Some built-in styles appear to the left or right. 
  1. Select the Insert tab from the Ribbon. 
  1. Select Text Box
  1. Select one of the text box gallery objects, or select Draw Text box. 

Word inserts the text box. If you selected Draw Text Box, draw the text box just like a shape. 

Note the anchor pointed out in the following illustration. 

  1. Enter your text.  

Formatting Graphic Elements 

This lesson looks at some basic tasks for working with graphic elements. 

Topics in this Lesson Select a shape Format a shape Set the text wrapping  Set positioning for a picture Add alternative text to objects for accessibility 

Select a Graphical Element 

Picture handles appear around a shape, picture, or other graphic element when you select it. The handles must be present for you to move or delete these objects. 

Here’s how to select a graphical element. 

  1. Click on the edge of the shape. Make sure the cursor is a cross with arrows. 

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Format a Shape 

Shapes can be formatted with fill, outline, and effects. 

Here’s how to format a shape. 

  1. Select the shape. 
  1. Select the Drawing Tools Format tab on the Ribbon. 
  1. Select Shape Fill to select a color, picture, gradient or texture to use inside the shape. 
  1. Select Shape Outline to select a color, weight, line style, and in some cases, arrows to use for the shape outline. 
  1. Select Shape Effects to apply additional affects to the shape. 

Set the Text Wrapping  

Graphic elements can appear in line with the rest of your text, or you can use text wrapping. 

Here’s how to set the text wrapping for a picture. 

  1. Select the graphical element you want to change. 
  1. Select the icon that appears to the right of the graphic. 
  1. Select the wrapping option that you want to use.  

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Set Positioning  

The Position option on the Format tab allows you to set positioning for graphical elements that are not in line with text. 

Here’s how to set positioning for a picture 

  1. Select the picture or graphic you want to position. 
  1. On the Format tab of the Ribbon, select Position
  1. Select the Position that you want to use. 

Add Alternative Text  

Alt Text provides additional information to make your document more accessible to those with disabilities. Alt text includes a title and description for graphical elements for visually impaired users who use screen readers to read a document. 

Here’s how to add alternative text to objects for accessibility. 

  1. Select the picture or shape for which you want to provide Alt text. 
  1. Select the Picture Tools or Drawing Tools Format tab on the Ribbon (depending on whether you have selected a picture or another object). 
  1. Select the small square at the bottom right of the Picture Styles or Shape Styles group to open the Format Picture panel on the right. 
  1. Select the Layout & Properties icon. 
  1. Select Alt Text
  1. Enter the Title for the Alt Text. 
  1. Enter the Description for the Alt Text. 

Enhancing Pictures 

Topics in this Lesson Apply a picture style Apply picture effects Apply artistic effects Remove the background from a picture 

Apply a Picture Style 

Word includes a number of built-in styles to quickly provide a finishing touch to images in your document. 

Here’s how to apply a picture style. 

  1. Select the picture you want to style. 
  1. Select the Picture Tools tab on the Ribbon. 
  1. Select the Picture Style from the Gallery. 

Apply Picture Effects 

You can apply various effects to give your pictures your own style.  

Here’s how to apply picture effects. 

  1. Select the picture you want to change. 
  1. On the Picture Tools tab of the Ribbon, select Picture Effects in the Picture Styles group. 
  1. Select the effect you would like to apply. 

Apply Artistic Effects 

Word includes a number of artistic effects to give your pictures a special look. 

Here’s how to apply artistic effects. 

  1. Select the picture you want to change. 
  1. On the Picture Tools tab of the Ribbon, select Artistic Effects
  1. Select the effect you would like to apply. 

Remove the Background from a Picture 

The Remove Background feature allows you to remove a background from a picture to accent or highlight the subject of the picture or remove distracting detail. 

Here’s how to remove the background from a picture. 

  1. Select the picture you want to change. 
  1. On the Picture Tools tab of the Ribbon, select Remove Background

Word displays the Background Removal tab with some areas automatically marked for removal. 

  1. Select Keep Changes to accept Word’s automatic background removal.  
  1. Or use the Mark Areas to Keep or Mark Areas to Remove tools to refine the background removal. When you have finished, select Keep Changes. Or select Discard All Changes to return to the original picture. 

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Using SmartArt 

Topics in this Lesson Insert SmartArt Add Text to SmartArt Format SmartArt Modify SmartArt Graphic Content 

Insert SmartArt 

SmartArt is a set of pre-defined graphics to help you convey different types of information. There are templates for lists, processes, cycles, hierarchies, relationships, matrices, pyramids, and pictures. 

Show participants how to insert SmartArt. 

  1. Select the Insert tab from the Ribbon. 
  1. Select SmartArt
  1. In the Choose a SmartArt Graphic dialog box, select the category on the left. Then you select the item in the middle. The right shows a preview of the item. Select OK to insert the content. 

Word inserts the selected SmartArt graphic in the document at the current cursor position. 

Add Text to SmartArt 

Word makes it easy to add your own text to SmartArt diagrams. 

Here’s how to add text to a SmartArt graphic by using the Text Pane. 

  1. To the left of the SmartArt graphic you inserted, there is a small rectangle with an arrow. Click this arrow to open the Text Pane. 

Word opens the Text Pane. 

  1. Click on the first line and begin typing. Each line represents a new item in the graphic. 

The SmartArt text adjusts to fit the graphic. The more text you enter in each graphic element, the smaller the text will become. 

  1. When you have finished, click anywhere on the slide, and the Text Pane will close automatically. Or you can click the X in the top right corner. 

Customize SmartArt 

Not only can you easily insert a variety of SmartArt designs, you can quickly customize them. 

Here’s how to change one of the shapes in the SmartArt. 

  1. Select the SmartArt. 
  1. Select the SmartArt Tools Format tab on the Ribbon. 
  1. Select Change Shape
  1. Select the new shape. 

Add Shape to SmartArt  

Word provides additional tools for customizing your SmartArt, including adding more shapes to the diagram. 

Here’s how to add a shape to the SmartArt layout. 

  1. Select the SmartArt graphic you want to change. 
  1. Select the SmartArt Tools Design tab of the Ribbon. 
  1. Select Add Shape.