Shapes

In Word shapes can be added and altered to add clarity and visual appeal. Use shapes in Word for all types of Word documents.

Introduction

Video: Shapes

Launch "Shapes" video!Watch the video (5:18).

You can add a variety of shapes to your document, including arrows, callouts, squares, stars, and flowchart shapes. Want to set your name and address apart from the rest of your resume? Use a line. Need to create a diagram showing a timeline or process? Use flowchart shapes. While you may not need shapes in every document you create, they can add visual appeal and clarity.

Optional: Download our practice document.

To insert a shape:

  1. Select the Insert tab, then click the Shapes command. A drop-down menu of shapes will appear.
  2. Select the desired shape.
    Screenshot of Word 2013Selecting a shape
  3. Click, hold, and drag in the desired location to add the shape to your document.


    Screenshot of Word 2013Inserting a new shape

If you want, you can enter text in a shape. When the shape appears in your document, you can begin typing. You can then use the formatting options on the Home tab to change the font, font size, or color of the text.

Screenshot of Word 2013Entering text in a shape

To resize a shape:

  1. Select the shape you want to resize. Sizing handles will appear.


    Screenshot of Word 2013Clicking the shape
  2. Click, hold, and drag the sizing handles until the shape is the desired size. You can use the corner sizing handles to change the shape's height and width at the same time.


    Screenshot of Word 2013Resizing the shape

Some shapes also have one or more yellow handles that can be used to modify the shape. For example, with star shapes you can adjust the length of the points.

Screenshot of Word 2013Modifying the shape

To rotate the shape, click, hold, and drag the rotation handle.

Screenshot of Word 2013Rotating the shape

To change the order of shapes:

If one shape overlaps another, you may need to change the ordering so the correct shape appears in front. You can bring a shape to the front or send it to the back. If you have multiple images, you can use Bring Forward or Send Backward to fine tune the ordering. You can also move a shape in front of or behind text.

  1. Right-click the shape you want to move. In our example, we want the cloud to appear in front of the sun, so we'll right-click the cloud.


    Screenshot of Word 2013Right-clicking the shape
  2. In the menu that appears, hover over Bring to Front or Send to Back. Several ordering options will appear. Select the desired ordering option. In this example, we'll choose Bring to Front.


    Screenshot of Word 2013Selecting an ordering option
  3. The order of the shapes will change.


    Screenshot of Word 2013The reordered shapes

In some cases, the ordering option you select will not affect the ordering of the shapes. If this happens, try selecting the same option again or try a different option.

If you have many shapes placed on top of each other, it may be difficult to select an individual shape. The Selection Pane allows you to select a shape and drag it to a new location. To access the Selection Pane, click Selection Pane on the Format tab.

Screenshot of Word 2013Changing the order of a shape in the Selection Pane

Modifying shapes

Word allows you to modify your shapes in a variety of ways so you can tailor them to your projects. You can change a shape into a different shape, format a shape's style and color, and add shadow effects.

To change to a different shape:

  1. Select the shape you want to change. The Format tab will appear.
  2. On the Format tab, click the Edit Shape command. In the menu that appears, hover the mouse over Change Shape and select the desired shape.


    Screenshot of Word 2013Changing a shape
  3. The new shape will appear.


    Screenshot of Word 2013The new shape

To change the shape style:

Choosing a shape style allows you to apply preset colors and effects to quickly change the appearance of your shape.

  1. Select the shape you want to change.
  2. On the Format tab, click the More drop-down arrow in the Shape Styles group.


    Screenshot of Word 2013Changing the shape style
  3. A drop-down menu of styles will appear. Select the style you want to use.


    Screenshot of Word 2013Selecting a shape style
  4. The shape will appear in the selected style.

To change the shape fill color:

  1. Select the shape you want to change.
  2. On the Format tab, click the Shape Fill drop-down arrow. The Shape Fill menu appears.
  3. Move the mouse over the various colors. Select the color you want to use. To view more color options, select More Fill Colors.
    Screenshot of Word 2013Changing the shape fill color
  4. The shape will appear in the selected fill color.

If you want to use a different type of fill, select Gradient or Texture from the drop-down menu. You can also select No Fill to make it transparent.

To change the shape outline:

  1. Select the shape you want to change.
  2. On the Format tab, click the Shape Outline drop-down arrow. The Shape Outline menu will appear.
  3. Select the color you want to use. If you want to make the outline transparent, select No Outline.


    Screenshot of Word 2013Changing the shape outline color
  4. The shape will appear in the selected outline color.

From the drop-down menu, you can change the outline color, weight (thickness), and whether or not it is a dashed line.

Screenshot of Word 2013A thicker line

To change shadow effects:

Adding a shadow to a shape can make it appear as though it is floating above the page, and it can help to add contrast between the shape and the background.

  1. Select the shape you want to change.
  2. On the Format tab, click the Shape Effects drop-down arrow. In the menu that appears, hover the mouse over Shadow and select the shadow you want to use.


    Screenshot of Word 2013Choosing a shadow type
  3. The shape will appear with the selected shadow.

To adjust the shadow color, size, distance and more, select Shadow Options from the drop-down menu. The Format Shape pane will appear on the right side of the Word window, allowing you to customize the shadow.

Screenshot of Word 2013The Format Shape pane

3D effects

There are two kinds of effects you can apply to your shapes to give them a 3D appearance: 3-D Rotation and Bevel. 3-D Rotation gives the appearance that you are viewing an object from a different angle, and it can be applied to any shape. Bevel adds thickness and a rounded edge to shapes, but it doesn't work with every type of shape.

To add 3-D Rotation:

  1. Select the shape you want to change.
  2. On the Format tab, click the Shape Effects drop-down arrow. In the menu that appears, hover the mouse over 3-D Rotation and select the desired 3-D effect.


    Screenshot of Word 2013Choosing a 3-D effect
  3. The shape will appear in the selected 3-D Rotation effect.

If you want, you can customize 3-D Rotation. Select 3-D Rotation Options... from the drop-down menu, and the Format Shape pane will appear on the right side of the Word window. From here, you can adjust the rotation values.

Screenshot of Word 2013Customizing the 3-D rotation

To add a bevel:

  1. Select the shape you want to change.
  2. On the Format tab, click the Shape Effects drop-down arrow. In the menu that appears, hover the mouse over Bevel and select the desired bevel preset.


    Screenshot of Word 2013Choosing a bevel preset
  3. The shape will appear in the selected bevel effect.

If you want, you can customize the bevel effect. Select 3-D Options... from the drop-down menu. The Format Shape pane will appear on the right side of the Word window. From here, you can modify the width, height, and depth of a bevel. You can also change the shape's material to give it a metal, plastic, or translucent appearance, as well as choose the lighting type to change how the shape is illuminated.

Screenshot of Word 2013Customizing the bevel

Challenge!

  1. Create a new Word document. If you want, you can use our practice document.
  2. Insert a two or three shapes. If you're using the example, insert a Lightning Bolt shape on the cloud.
  3. Select a shape and resize it. If you're using the example, resize the cloud so it appears larger.
  4. Place one shape on top of the other, and try changing the order of the shapes. If you're using the example, try changing the order of the shapes so the Lightning Bolt is behind the Cloud.
  5. Select a shape, and change it to a different shape. If you're using the example, try changing the Moon into a Sun.
  6. Select a shape, and try changing the shape style, fill color, and outline.
  7. Try various shadow effects.
  8. Try various 3D effects.