• Create BookmarkCreate Bookmark
  • Create Note or TagCreate Note or Tag
  • PrintPrint

4.4. Text Boxes

Putting text in a box of its own, sitting there independently on the page, represents a quantum leap in text-flow management (see Figure 4-9). You can now format and color a text box independently from everything else on the page, as well as use drawing tools on it. In other words, text boxes let you think outside the box.

Figure 4-9. A text box is ideal for pull quotes, like the one shown here—extracted quotations designed to catch the eye of someone browsing your document. Lower left: The Text Box toolbar can be rather fickle, since sometimes it goes away all by itself. (To get it back, click a text box, then choose View→Toolbars→Text Box.) Right: When a text box is selected, the Formatting Palette changes to reflect the tools you need.


A text box is fundamentally different from a paragraph with a border around it, although text boxes can (and often do) have borders. For one thing, you can't drag to resize a bordered paragraph, or flow text around it, as you can with a text box. On the other hand, if all you want is a border and none of the other fancy features, then creating a border around a plain old paragraph is the easiest way to do it.

Text boxes also emulate the way desktop publishing programs such as Quark XPress and PageMaker handle text. If you've never used professional desktop publishing software, consider this your first training ground.


Text boxes completely disappear in Normal view. To work with text boxes, make sure you're using Page Layout view (View→Page Layout)—or be prepared for some surprises when you first see the printout.

4.4.1. Creating Text Boxes

To start a text box in your document, choose Insert→Text Box. (Another avenue: If the Drawing toolbar is open [Section 18.4], click the Text Box button, which looks like a capital A with an I-bar next to it.)

Move the mouse to where you'd like the box to appear, and drag diagonally; Word shows you the rectangular outline of the box you're creating. The box is complete when you let go of the mouse; you can always resize or move it later. To place text inside your new text box, click inside it and type or paste.


To enclose existing text in a text box, first select the text, then choose Insert→Text Box or click the Text Box button. Your text appears in a small text box, which you can then resize.

4.4.2. The Text Box Toolbar

The diminutive Text Box toolbar appears when you first create a text box, as shown in Figure 4-9. Its buttons let you:

  • Link and unlink text boxes. Linking text boxes sets up an automatic text flow from one to another, exactly as in PageMaker, QuarkXPress, or any newspaper on earth that makes you "Continue on page 13A." As you add text to the first text box, overflow text falls into the second one, even if it's many pages away. Most people never suspect that Word is even capable of this page-layout feature, perhaps because it's buried in this shy toolbar.

    To link two text boxes, click the first box, and then click the Create Text Box Link button (see Figure 4-9); the cursor turns into a pitcher, as if to pour text into the next box. Now click the second box. Excess text flows automatically from the first box into the second. (Press Esc or -. to back out of the process.)


    There's nothing preventing you from repeating this process, linking three, four, or many text boxes together into a continuously linked chain. You may drive your readers crazy, but you can do it.

    To break a link between two boxes, click anywhere in the first of the two boxes and click the Break Forward Link button. The text from the second box now flows back into the first one, leaving the second box (and any subsequent boxes in the chain) empty.

  • Navigate from one text box to another. The next two buttons on the Text Box toolbar (see Figure 4-9) come in handy if there are many text boxes distributed far and wide in your document. They step you forward and back through the text boxes, skipping over everything in between.

  • Change text direction. Clicking this button rotates the text within the box (and all others linked to it), as shown in Figure 4-10.

    Figure 4-10. Clicking "Change text direction" on the Text Box toolbar (or choosing Format→Text Direction) allows you to create eye-catching mastheads like this one. You can make text read top to bottom, bottom to top, or back to normal. (You can't turn text upside down.) Use this trick for creative layout effects for newsletter mastheads or letterheads.

4.4.3. Formatting Within Text Boxes

To use Word's formatting features on text within text boxes, just select the text first. The tools on the Standard toolbar and the Formatting Palette pertain to the text within a box, so long as the insertion point is in that box.


Choosing Edit→Select All or pressing -A, while the insertion point is in a text box, effectively selects all the text in that box and any boxes that are linked to it.

To adjust the margins within a text box, choose Format→Text Box. (This choice only appears when the insertion point is within a text box.) Click the Text Box tab, as shown in Figure 4-11. The settings you establish in these boxes control the distance between the borders of the text box and the text itself.

Figure 4-11. Even if text boxes are linked, the internal margin settings (shown here in the Format Text Box dialog box) apply only to the text box containing the insertion point. Changing the background color or border style

When a text box is selected, the Formatting Palette changes to offer specialized controls for formatting its line thickness, line color, and background ("Fill") color or pattern. In fact, because a Word text box is like a cross between a text block and a drawing object (see Chapter 18), many of the icons on the Drawing toolbar affect text boxes. For example, the Drawing toolbar offers 3-D and shadow effects, which look great on text boxes.


To use the drawing tools on a text box, make sure to select the box itself, not the text inside it. To do so, position the cursor on the box's outline until the cursor turns into a hand, and then click. (When you click inside the box, the tools on the Formatting Palette turn back to text tools.) Sizing text boxes

If you can't see all the text in a box, you can either link it to another text box or just make this one bigger. Here's how: Select the box by clicking it, and then drag any of the tiny white resize handles at its corners. Or, for numerical precision, use the boxes on the Formatting Palette's Size section; the relevant portions of the Formatting Palette are shown in Figure 4-9.

4.4.4. Working with Linked Text Boxes

Microsoft's name for a group of linked text boxes is a story. There's no limit to the number of text boxes you can link together—just keep creating new ones and linking them (Section 4.4.1) until there's room for all your text. Copying linked text boxes

You can copy or cut an entire story (or part of one) for pasting into another document. To do so, select the text box (not the text) of the first box in the story and Shift-click any additional text boxes you want to copy. Once they're selected, you can now copy or cut and paste the chain of boxes using any of the copy/paste methods described in Chapter 2. Use this method if, for example, you want to copy a series of text boxes and then change the text inside of them; this will also save you the work of creating and sizing new text boxes.


Word can't link text boxes across documents in order to keep the text flowing "live" from one to the next.

To cut or copy the text only from a story, click in any box in the chain and choose Edit→Select All (or press -A). Now when you use the cut or copy and paste commands, you'll be pasting just the text, not the boxes. Deleting one text box in a chain

If you delete one box in a story, the text remains intact, flowing from beginning to end through the remaining text boxes in the chain. Select the box that you want to delete by holding the cursor over the box's boundary until it changes into a hand icon; click the box edge. Then choose Edit→Clear (or press Delete). If necessary, enlarge the remaining linked text boxes to show all the story text. Grouping text boxes

You can group text boxes just as you would group any graphic objects (see Section 18.4.2); the only trick is selecting them. As noted above, the trick is to click their borders; Shift-click to select the additional boxes that you want to group. Once they're selected, choose Group from the Draw pop-up button (the top button on the Drawing toolbar). (If you change your mind, the Ungroup and Regroup commands are on this same menu.)

Character Spacing

When working with text flow, you're usually concerned with the big picture, such as where the text goes and whether a word is divided. But in times of page-layout stress, your control in Word can get much finer than that; you can actually adjust the letter spacing between individual letters—an especially useful control in text boxes.

Select the text that you'd like to work on. (You'll probably want to adjust the character spacing of only a single line or a few words at a time.) Then choose Format→Font→Character Spacing tab.

As you use the Spacing (horizontal) and Position (vertical) settings, keep an eye on the Preview window, which displays all results. The Scale percentage controls the magnification of the Preview window, in case you need to look really closely.

  • Spacing. Choose Expanded or Condensed from the pop-up menu, then click the arrows to choose the amount of space that Word puts between each character in your selected text. (One point is 1/72nd of an inch.)

  • Position. Choose Raised or Lowered from the pop-up menu, then click the arrows to tell Word how much higher or lower to position the selected text. Thus, if you're concerned with the amount of space between two lines, select one of the two lines and move it higher or lower until you get the desired results.

Note that character spacing isn't quite the same thing as what professional typesetters called kerning. Kerning refers to the space between certain specific pairs of letters, such as capital T and lowercase o. Especially in larger type sizes, the word "To" can look odd, for example, because there's too much space between the T and o. Kerning moves the o closer so that it's slightly under, rather than coming after, the top arm of the T.

In Word, kerning is a feature that you can set to kick in automatically according to your text's size. (Kerning is usually unnecessary in body text; it's more critical in headings and other large point size text.) If your headings are in 14-point type, for example, set the "Kerning for fonts" box to 14 points and above. That's all you have to do; Word makes sure that the kerning pairs are shifted automatically, based on information embedded in the font itself. (Word offers no manual kerning controls.)

When you drag a grouped text box, they all move together. When you drag the sizing handles, they all grow or shrink by the same amount. Likewise, when you use the color and fill commands, they act upon all boxes in the group.

4.4.5. Text Wrapping and Layering

Whether you're creating a Web site or printed document, one of the most enjoyable parts is putting in a few images—photos, clip art, or drawings. But too often, the text and graphics don't share the space as harmoniously as they should. Many people find topics like text wrapping too intimidating to bother learning.

Don't be one of them. Word's layout features are more intuitive than ever, especially for you, the wise and discriminating Mac user. Wrapping text around things

The "things" around which you can wrap text can be clip art from Word's own collection (see "Adding Insertions" in the next section); drawings you've done in programs like Word, AppleWorks, or Illustrator; AutoShapes from the Drawing toolbar; or text boxes. (See Chapter 18 for a review of the various graphic objects you can place into a Word document.)

To get started, select the graphic or text box you want to wrap your text around. Ignore the text for now. Just worry about getting the picture where you want it on the page. Then consult the Wrapping section of the Formatting Palette (Figure 4-12), as it offers a pair of pop-up buttons that specify how you want the text to wrap.

Figure 4-12. The wrapping controls in the Format dialog box (right) mostly correspond with the Style and "Wrap to" pop-up controls in the Formatting Palette (left). Your text can leave a hole for the graphic (Square), hug its irregular sides (Tight), sit superimposed (Behind Text), be covered up by the graphic (In Front of Text), or treat it as just another typed character (In Line With Text). Advanced text wrapping

As always in Word, the Formatting Palette is the quickest way to achieve a result (text wrapping, in this case), but more control awaits in a dialog box. Here's how to get there:

  1. Click to select the graphic or text box, then choose Formatwhatever.

    In other words, choose Format→Picture, Format→Object, Format→AutoShape, or Format→Text Box; the wording of the bottommost choice on the Format menu depends on the item you've selected. In any event, the appropriate Format dialog box now appears (Figure 4-12, left).

  2. Click the Layout tab. Choose one of the text-wrap styles by clicking its icon.

    These wrapping controls correspond to those on the Formatting Palette. For example, choose Tight if you'd like the text to hug the outlines of an irregularly shaped object. Choose Behind Text to create a watermark, or choose Square for a neat, businesslike look.

  3. To keep the object right where you placed it on the page, click Other under "Horizontal Alignment."

    The other buttons move the object to align with the left margin, center line, and right margin, respectively.

  4. Click Advanced.

    A new dialog box appears (see Figure 4-13).

    Figure 4-13. Top: A Word clip art inserted into a document; left alignment, tight wrapping, one side only, 0.25" from text. Bottom: The Advanced Layout tab contains additional options. For example, you can Wrap text on one side only, instead of both sides. One of these may be a better choice if the text wrapping is down one side of a column. "Largest only" wraps text only on one side—the side that has the most room, even if that changes in the middle of the object. This is a good choice for irregularly shaped objects. Distance from text lets you choose how close you want the text against the object it wraps—in hundredths of an inch.

  5. Make the changes you want, as shown in Figure 4-13; click OK twice. Layering text with graphics

Most of the time, you'll want to wrap text around objects. But sometimes, for effect, you'll put text right over an object, or vice versa. To pull this off, use the "Behind text" or " In front of text" options shown in Figures 4-12 or 4-13.

If superimposing a graphic has made the text difficult to read, there are a couple of fixes. Either lighten the object beneath the text, or, if the text has a fill, change it to a clear or semitransparent fill.

  • To lighten an object, select it. If it's a picture, click the Image Control button on the Formatting Palette and select Watermark. Another way to lighten a picture is to click Color Adjustment on the Formatting Palette and choose the Saturation radio button. Then use the Setting slider to lighten the image as much as you need.

  • If the object is a drawing or AutoShape, you can use the Transparency slider on the Formatting Palette to make it easier to see through. (The slider has no effect on lines. For less-intrusive, thinner lines, use the Weight box on the Formatting Palette, or choose a lighter color in the Line Color box.) You can access the same controls by choosing Format from the Draw pop-up button on the Drawing toolbar.

Text Boxes and Text Frames

Before Word 98, all text boxes were called text frames, and they had fewer features than they have now.

When you open a document from an earlier version of Word that contains frames, they remain intact. You can continue to work with the text frames by selecting them and using the Format→Frame dialog box.

To reiterate, frames are far more limited than today's text boxes. You can't link or group them, rotate the text inside them, or format them using the Borders and Shading dialog box or the Drawing toolbar, as described in this section (use the Formatting Palette instead).

If you'd like to convert old text frames into text boxes, there's only one way to do it, and it's a workaround. Create a new text box (see Section 4.4), and then cut and paste the text from the frame. Finally, select and delete the orphaned text frame.

Or, to remove a text frame without putting its text into a text box, choose Format→Style. At the bottom of the Modify Style dialog box, choose Format→Frame, and then click Remove Frame.

On the other hand, frames aren't dinosaurs altogether. Some Word features work in text frames but not in text boxes, including footnotes and endnotes (see Section 6.2), comments (Section 5.1), field codes for tables and indexes, and AUTONUM fields.

To create a text frame around a paragraph, choose Format→Style and click Modify. At the bottom of the Modify Style dialog box, choose Format→Frame; use the settings in the Frame dialog box to adjust the text wrapping and other attributes. You can resize and move text frames in your document just like text boxes, but you can also enter exact position settings here. To reopen the Frame dialog box at any time, click inside the frame and then choose Format→Frame.

Finally, there's an even quicker way to create a text frame: Create a text box as usual (Section 4.4), and then, with the text box selected, choose Format→Text Box→Text Box tab. Click Convert to Frame.


You can even layer text with text—a great trick when using your company's name as a watermark on your letterhead, for example. To do so, make a text box containing the logo, apply a light color or light shade of gray to it in the Formatting Palette, and choose "Behind text" from the Style pop-up button in Formatting Palette's Wrapping section. Drag the logo into place.

  • Creative Edge
  • Create BookmarkCreate Bookmark
  • Create Note or TagCreate Note or Tag
  • PrintPrint