Video: Add and format shapes

Insert shapes in your diagrams to convey information, and include colour and special effects for a professional appearance.

Add shapes

  1. Pick the stencil that has the shape you want to add.
  1. Choose a shape, and drag it onto the drawing page.
  1. Aim at the shape, and point to the arrow that shows the direction of the adjacent shape you want to add.

Note: If you don’t see the AutoConnect arrows, press View and check AutoConnect is selected.

  1. Pick the shape you want to add.

Select shapes

Select a single shapePick Home > Pointer Tool, point to a shape until you see a four-headed arrow, and choose the shape.
Select multiple shapes in a rectangular areaClick Home > Select > Area Select and drag a rectangle around the shapes.
Select multiple shapes in a freeform areaChoose Home > Select > Lasso Select and drag a freeform lasso around the shapes.
Select multiple shapes separated by other shapesPress Ctrl+Shift while picking shapes.
Select a particular kind of objectClick Home > Select > Select by Type, press the type of object, and select OK.
Remove a shape from a multiple selectionPress Shift, and click the shape.
Cancel a selectionChoose a blank area on the diagram, or press Esc.

Change a shape into another shape

  1. Pick the shape you want to change.
  1. Click Home > Change Shape.
  1. Browse the shapes and stencils until you find your sought shape.
  1. Click a shape.
    All text and formatting formatted to the first shape are relayed to the new shape.

Rotate or flip shapes

Rotate a shapeChoose a shape, and drag the rotation handle.
Rotate a shape 90 degreesPick a shape, select Home > Position > Rotate Shapes, and choose either Rotate Left 90° or Rotate Right 90°.
Flip a shape verticallyClick a shape, and pick Home > Position > Rotate Shapes > Flip Vertical.
Flip a shape horizontallyPress a shape, and pick Home > Position > Rotate Shapes > Flip Horizontal.
Rotate a shape preciselyClick a shape, press View > Task Panes > Size & Position, and enter in new values for Angle.

Resize shapes

Resize a shapeChoose a shape, and drag a selection handle or endpoint until the shape is your preferred size for your work you want.
Resize a shape proportionallyClick a shape, and drag a corner handle.
Resize a shape preciselyChoose a shape, pick View > Task Panes > Size & Position, and put in new values for WidthHeight, or Length.

Move shapes

Move a shapePick a shape and drag it to a new position.
Nudge a shapeClick a shape, and press an arrow key.
Move a shape one pixel at a timeClick a shape and press Shift while pressing an arrow key.
Move a shape preciselyPick a shape, click View > Task Panes > Size & Position, and write in new values for XYBegin XBegin YEnd X, or End Y.

Change the look of shapes

  1. Choose a shape.
  1. On the Home tab, press style options:
  • Quick Styles – Pick a line and fill combination.
  • Fill – Choose a colour, gradient, or pattern to fill the shape.
  • Line – Choose the line colour, line thickness, or kind of line.
  • Effects – Pick a shadow, reflection, glow, or 3-D effect.

Want more?

Create a shape

Format a shape

Shape basics: resize, format, move and add text to shapes


Shapes, arranged in diagrams, communicate information. Colour and special effects can highlight important information, enhance your message, and give your diagram a professional look.

To add a shape to a diagram, select it from the stencil and drag it onto the page. When you see a vertical guideline, the shape is centred horizontally.

As I add another shape, guidelines show me when it’s aligned with the shape that’s already there.

I’m going to add one more shape.

Now let’s arrange and format the shapes. First, I’ll select them.

A few tips will come in handy.

Select a single shape or press Ctrl as you select multiple shapes in different parts of the diagram.

To clear your selection, select a blank area of the page.

When shapes are next to each other, select Home, then Select, and then Area Select to select them all at once. This works great for grouping shapes, or moving a section of the diagram to make room for more shapes.

Or, if you want to select all of the shapes in a diagram, select Home, then Select, and then Select All.

I’m going to select this rectangle, because I think a circle will work better here.

Then I’ll select the circle. There!

To rotate a shape, select and drag its rotation handle or rotate a shape in 90-degree increments. To do this, I select Position, select Rotate Shapes, and choose a rotation direction. You can flip shapes this way, too, by choosing a flip direction.

If a shape isn’t the right size, resize it by dragging the selection handles.

Or enter an exact size. Select the shape. Then go to View, select Task Panes, and select Size & Position.

Type new values for Width, Height, or Length.

Then select a blank area.

My positioning isn’t quite right, so I’m going to drag this rectangle where I want it.

To get it just right, I’ll press arrow keys to nudge it to the next snap position on the ruler and on the grid. If I press Shift as I press the arrow keys, shapes move in finer increments.

Now, I’ll make this arrow stand out. To display all the colour and effects options at once, I go to Home and select the More arrow in the Shape Styles group.

After I select the arrow shape, I select Fill, select Colour, and choose a different colour and then select Effects, select Shadow, and choose a shadow effect.

With my toolbox of shapes, colours, and effects, I can create simple or elaborate diagrams. Experiment with positioning and formatting shapes to achieve the look you want.

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