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Chapter 8. Using Excel's Drawing Tools > Working with AutoShapes

Working with AutoShapes

Whether you're an artist with pen and paper or using Excel to create your art for your worksheets, you'll find that using the Drawing toolbar's AutoShapes tool will make it easier to draw polygons and other complex shapes than to create them with freehand line drawing tools or connected straight lines. There are seven AutoShapes categories, found by clicking the AutoShapes button on the Drawing toolbar:

  • Lines. Choose one of six line types, from straight to squiggle, with or without arrowheads, as shown in Figure 8.10.

    Figure 8.10. Lines for every purpose—from straight directional lines to curved or freehand lines—are available.

  • Connectors. Create lines that connect one shape or line to another, with the connections highlighted by small boxes. Choose from nine connector types (see Figure 8.11). Select the connector type you want, click at the place you want the connector to begin, and drag to the place you want it to end. The connector snakes around as needed to connect the objects. You can click and drag the diamond-shaped handles to adjust a connector's shape. When you move an object to which a connector is drawn, the connector remains connected to the object, resizing itself as needed, as Figure 8.12 shows.

  • Basic Shapes . Choose from 32 shapes, everything from triangles to hearts, from lightning bolts to crescent moons. The last seven of these shapes are a series of brackets and parentheses.

  • Block Arrows. There are 28 arrows: straight, curved, bidirectional, and some that contain a box with an arrow melded into one shape. These are great for flow charts or any graphical depiction of a process or order of operations.

    Figure 8.11. Choose the connection type you need for making separate straight or curved lines meet.

    Figure 8.12. When you move a connected object, the connector adjusts automatically.

  • Flowchart. If you're familiar with flowcharts and which shapes to use to indicate which point in a process, you'll find these symbols very useful (see Figure 8.13). You also can use them as simple geometric shapes.

    Figure 8.13. Use these familiar flowchart shapes to describe a procedure.

    Author's Note

    You can use connectors between shapes in your flowchart. That way, if you need to rearrange the flowchart, the connectors move with the flowchart shapes.

  • Stars and Banners. A total of 16 stars, sunbursts, explosions, and banner styles are available (see Figure 8.14).

    Figure 8.14. These shapes are not for conservative worksheets.

  • Callouts. A combination of a text box and a line that points from the text box to another item (worksheet content or another drawn object), callouts are effective tools for drawing informative attention to something on your worksheet that needs further explanation. Figure 8.15 uses callouts to highlight important information. Choose from 20 callout styles. The next section, "Creating Callouts," explains callouts in more detail.

    Figure 8.15. Callouts emphasize and explain by combining text with a pointing line.

  • More AutoShapes. Click this option to open a new window, displaying a list of 55 shapes—line drawings (see Figure 8.16). (This window is essentially the Clip Gallery window. It operates the same way.)



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