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How-To Geek

Lesson 4: Working with Pictures, Shapes, and Graphics

On the left side of the “Format” tab you can select any of your shapes and change them to another, and also make them larger or smaller.

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If you click on “Shape Styles” you will be able to choose from a selection of pre-defined shapes and colors.

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Shift right just slightly and you will find controls to alter the fill. Choose from various “Theme Colors” or select your own. You an also use pictures, gradients, and textures for even more fill options.

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If you want to refine the outline around your shape(s), you can choose any color, weight, or dashes.

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Finally, “Shape Effects” has quite a few options for enhancing your shapes, many of which will give them a cool 3D effect that you can adjust by clicking 3D Options at the bottom of the of the menu.

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Format Text Effects

Let’s take a closer look at this because it contains a pretty sizable amount of features. We’ll cover the basics so that you’re more aware of them. The pane titled “Format Text Effects” slides out from the right edge.

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As with any other panes in Word 2013, it can be detached, which you can then stick out of the way to save screen area, or keep it nearby so it is handy. Regardless, this dialog box will allow you to quickly work with text, so you don’t have to repeatedly keep going to the ribbon to change things. Note also that the dialog is split into functions, “Text Fill and Outline” and “Text Effects”. “Text Fill and Outline” is simple enough to figure out, and is used to enhance how text appears.

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Say for instance, we want to write How-To Geek School and enhance it so that it is size 48 pt., blue with a black 1 pt. outline. We simply select the text we want, increase to the size to 48, then in the “Format Text Effects” dialog, we can change the color (we can also do this in the “Font” section of the “Home” tab. Then under “Text Outline” we choose “Solid line” and choose block and 1 pt. for the outline width.

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That looks pretty good, but we really want it to pop, let’s add some more text effects, such as a shadow, a reflection, and we’ll add a bit of a 3d bezel to round the lettering out.

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The result is a bit more striking and while it’s not likely to make it into any final designs, it does give you an idea of what you can do with WordArt.

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Chart

Who doesn’t like charts? Charts are a great way to visually display data sets and Word 2013 comes jam packed with a large assortment of Charts to choose from, including columns, pie, bar charts and much, much more. Check out the screenshot for an idea of just how many options there are:

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When you choose a style, you’ll get a spreadsheet, which will allow you to enter the data points on your x and y axes. As you enter data, the chart will change.

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Manipulating and formatting charts is easy. Whenever you click on a chart in your document, you’ll get the “Chart Tools”, which as you might have guessed, is the Ribbon tab devoted solely to charts.

Using the “Design” tab, if you don’t like the colors or style of your chart, you can instantly apply changes to it without having to generate a new one.

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If you decide you don’t think the layout works for this particular type of data, change it using “Quick Layout” or add another element such as another axis, chart title, gridlines, and more.

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On the right side of the “Design” tab you will find essential tools for altering your data and you can also go back and completely change the type of chart you’re using.

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So, if you think a pie chart would work better, you can change to that. Note however, some data points, such as “breakfast”, “lunch”, and “dinner” aren’t represented on this chart.

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The “Chart Tools” also give you a “Format” tab so you can dress things up a bit by adding shapes and then being able to change the style, fill, and outline.

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Turning to the right side of the “Format” tab, you are given options for adding and changing WordArt, arranging elements, and adjusting the size of your chart (which you can also do with the grab handles).

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It’s easy also to affect changes inline too. When you click on a chart in your document, formatting controls appear along the upper-right corner. From top-to-bottom, you get “Layout options” so you can set your text wrapping. You can change chart elements with the plus (+) symbol, so if you want to change chart titles, add gridlines, and stuff like that.

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The paintbrush icon is for setting a style and color them, and finally, the sieve icon is for “Chart Filters”, so you can edit data points and names on your chart.

Screenshot

The “Screenshot” feature will allow you to take a screen clip, which is automatically pasted in you document.

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When you use the screenshot function, it will let you choose between any currently open windows, or you can select “Screen Clipping”, which will minimize Word allowing you to take a selection or full shot of your desktop. So for example, if you want to simply insert a shot of your desktop and its icons, you would first need to minimize everything you have open.

There’s a myriad of ways you can take and add screenshots, so we’re not going to dwell on it. Just note this feature, if you’re unfamiliar with adding screenshots, and you want an easy way to do it in Word.

Online Video

You can insert “Online Video” such as Bing, YouTube, or video embed code into your document.

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When you embed a video, it will appear as if it is a regular picture, complete with grab handles and text wrap controls.

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Further, you can adjust how the emedded video thumbnail appears (as a picture) using the “Picture Tools” so you can make adjustments to the color, add a border, correct the contrast and brightness, and more.

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So you see, we simply applied a “picture style” and add a purple border. This is only a fraction of the stuff you can do, so if you to add some really nice looking effects and create a nice looking document that really pops, you should take your time to familiarize yourself with everything.

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On the other hand, if you don’t like your changes and you want to go back to the default, simply click “Reset Picture” and it will revert to normal.

Other Text Features

Here are few more text features that you might want to be aware of though you will probably rarely use them.

Text Box

Text boxes are like their own little islands in Word. What we mean is, when you add a “Text Box” to your documents, it is immune to changes you make to the rest of the document. It is like a document within a document.

This is useful if you want to present something “as is” in your work, be able to make overarching changes to the document’s formatting, but have something you’ve pasted remain unchanged.

For the most part, text boxes are something of a bane to an editor’s existence because they don’t play nice with styles (Lesson 5). You may find them extremely convenient and that’s perfectly fine, but if you want something that conforms to your document’s style and formatting, but still place it in a box or have a border around it, then we recommend simply adding a border, which we covered in Lesson 2 – Shading and Borders.

Drop Cap

Drop caps are simply that one letter at the beginning of a chapter or book that is larger than the rest:

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You can either make your drop cap “Dropped” (the text below it shifts underneath it) or “In Margin”. Check out the “Drop Cap” options for more power over how your drop caps behave.

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Using More than One Language

If you want to produce content in a language other than the one that comes with Word by default, you will likely need to purchase it. Open the Word “Options” and click on “Language”.

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Pick the language you want to add from the dropdown list and then click the “Add” button. When you add a language, you will need to enable it, which means that you will have to turn it on in the “Control Panel”.

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From here, you can write in the language, but Word won’t display in it, in other words, menus and help systems will still appear in the default language. To get the full multilingual experience, you may need to purchase a language pack from Microsoft.

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To see what languages are available for purchase, and how much, click on “Not installed” and you will be whisked to the Microsoft Office website.

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If you want to add proofing tools, such as spellcheck, grammar check, and/or screen tooltips, then you may be able to simply download them for free.

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While it’s doubtful you’ll be using Word in full multilingual mode, it’s nice to know how you can affect those changes. Moreover, most languages are freely available to use system-wide so actually creating a document in another language is well within your reach, for free.

Coming up Next…

So that concludes this section. We know it’s been a lot to absorb but you’ll see that after a while, this stuff is a cinch!

Once you get the hang of one skill, the rest is pretty similar and comes easier. By now you should have more than enough knowledge to create awesome documents with lists, tables, pictures, video, and anything you need to create a true multimedia publication!

Don’t forget though, if you’ve missed anything in this series you can always go back and read our introduction in Lesson 1, all that stuff on paragraphs and lists in Lesson 2, and all-important tables and other formatting options in Lesson 3.

In our final lesson, Lesson 5, we will cover styles, templates, and themes. It doesn’t sound like much, but they can be a fantastic way to not only save tons of time and create consistently formatted documents, but quickly apply themes that will instantly affect the entire appearance of your documents, as well as create templates that you can later use over and over again!

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Living just north of the border, in what he calls Practically, Mexico, Matt spends his days scouring the latest tech news, writing e-books, and attempting to create the perfect breakfast burrito.

  • Published 02/20/14

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