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How to Align and Group Graphic Objects in Excel 2013

When you’re dealing with two graphic objects in Excel 2013, one on top of the other, and you want to align them with each other, you can use the options on the Align command button’s drop-down menu on the Format tab of the Drawing Tools or Picture Tools contextual menu after selecting both of them in the worksheet.

The alignment options on this button’s drop-down menu include

  • Align Left to left align the graphic on the top layer with the one underneath

  • Align Center to center the graphic on the top layer with the one underneath

  • Align Right to right align the graphic on the top layer with the one underneath

  • Align Top to top align the graphic on the top layer with the one underneath

  • Align Middle to center vertically the graphic on the top layer with the one underneath

  • Align Bottom to bottom align the graphic on the top layer with the one underneath

  • Distribute Horizontally to equally distribute the selected graphic objects (three or more) horizontally

  • Distribute Vertically to equally distribute the selected graphic objects (three or more) vertically

Sometimes you need to work with more than one graphic object. If you find that you’re constantly selecting two or more objects at the same time in order to move them or rotate them together, you can make life a lot simpler by grouping the graphics. When you group selected graphic objects, Excel then makes them into a single graphic object, which you can then manipulate.

To group a bunch of graphics together, select them all (either by Shift+clicking or Ctrl+clicking each one). After they are selected, right-click the object on the top layer and then choose Group→Group from the object’s shortcut menu or choose the Group option from the Group Objects command button’s drop-down menu on the Format tab of the object’s particular Tools contextual menu.

Excel indicates that the selected graphics are now grouped in the worksheet (and for all intents and purposes, are a single graphic object) by placing a single set of sizing handles around the perimeter formed by all the former separate graphics and by giving them a group number in the Selection task pane.

You can then manipulate the grouped graphic as a single entity by moving it, sizing it, rotating it, and so forth, as you would any other object.

The great thing about grouping a bunch of different objects is that Excel never forgets that they were once separate objects that you could independently manipulate. This means that you can always turn them back into separate graphics by ungrouping them.

To do this, right-click the composite graphic object and then choose Group→Ungroup from its shortcut menu or choose the Ungroup option from the Group Objects command button’s drop-down menu on the object’s particular Tools Format tab.

Excel shows that the composite object is once again separated into many different objects by displaying sizing handles around each object’s perimeter. You can then deselect them all and manipulate each one once again independently by selecting it alone before moving, resizing, or rotating it.

If you decide that you want the now- independent objects to be joined as a group once again, you can do this by right-clicking any one of the graphics in the erstwhile group and then choosing Group→Regroup from its shortcut menu or choosing the Regroup option from the Group Objects command button’s drop-down menu’s Format contextual tab.

The figure illustrates grouping in action. For this figure, both the triangle and star graphics below are selected and then Group from the Group Objects button’s drop-down menu was chosen.

In grouping the two objects together into one, Excel created a new Group 5 object in the Selection task pane that consists of Right Arrow 2 and 5-Point Star 3. After grouping the two graphics, not only will the triangle move whenever you reposition the star, but the triangle will also resize when you modify the shape, and it would rotate together with the star if you were to turn the star on its head.

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