Text boxes let you emphasize or bring focus to specific text in a Microsoft Word document. You can choose from a variety of preformatted text boxes, or draw and format your own. They’re great for adding things like pull quotes, or even for laying out text and images on things like flyers.

Word has a number of predefined text box styles you can use, or you can draw your own. Regardless of which way you create the text box, you can then format it to suit your needs. Here’s how they work.

Insert a Built-in Text Box

Switch over to the “Insert” tab on Word’s Ribbon, and then click the “Text Box” button.

This opens a dropdown menu with a selection of predefined text box styles. There are a variety of styles and formatting to choose from, including text boxes with borders, shading, font colors and other attributes. Click one to insert it into your document. And don’t worry, you’ll be able to adjust the formatting and colors later.

When you insert the text box, the text inside is automatically selected, so you can begin typing something right away to replace that placeholder text.

The predefined text boxes also contain preselected layout options, including their size and placement on a page. After inserting one, it’s easy to resize it or move it to another location. You can drag any of the handles at the four corners or sides to to resize the box. The rotate handle at the top of the box (the circular arrow) lets you rotate the box. And to move it somewhere else in your document, just position your cursor on the edge of the box until you see a four-headed arrow, and then you can drag it wherever you want.

You can also change how (and if) regular document text wraps around your text box—just like you can with any other shape or object. We’ve got a full guide on working with pictures, shapes, and graphics in Microsoft Word if you’re interested in learning more about that.

Draw Your Own Text Box

You can also draw your own text box if you already have a size and placement in mind.

Switch over to the “Insert” tab on Word’s Ribbon, and then click the “Text Box” button. In the dropdown menu, click the “Draw Text Box” command.

Your pointer changes into a cross-hair symbol. Press and drag your mouse to draw your text box.

After you create the new text box, you can begin typing your text right away.

One thing that’s different about drawing your own text box is that Word defaults to putting it in front of any text.

This is fine if you’re just drawing and arranging text boxes on a textless page so you can do some specialized layout. But, if you do have text on your page, you’ll want to click the “Layout Options” button that appears to the right of the text box, and then choose one of the other layout options.

RELATED: Working with Pictures, Shapes, and Graphics

Format a Text Box

To format your text box, there are a variety of formatting options on the “Format” tab on the Ribbon. To apply text box styles, point to a style to see what it will look like. Click on the style to apply it to your text box.

Next, begin exploring other formatting options like Shape Fill, Shape Outline, and Change Shape—all of which are also available on the Format tab.

First, be sure to click on the edge of the text box to make sure the box is selected. Then select a formatting option from the Format tab. In addition, you can apply Shadow Effects and 3-D Effects to your text box.

To change the font, font color or other font attributes, use the formatting options in the Font group in the Home tab. You would apply font attributes to your text the same way you format other text in your document. Just select your text, and then click on a formatting option to change the font, font color, or font size, or apply other formatting attributes including bold, italics, underline, shadow, or highlighting.

In no time at all, you can customize your text box to suit your needs.

RELATED: How to Add Sideheads and Pull Quotes to Microsoft Word Documents

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Amelia Griggs is a Learning Design and Development specialist, Instructional Designer, Writer, and "Authorpeneuer." She enjoys researching, designing, and developing all kinds of educational materials, problem-solving, helping and training others to understand technology better, writing instructional articles, blogging, and composing fictional short stories.
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