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How to Insert Shapes in Office 2011 for Mac

In Office 2011 for Mac, the Media browser is where you can find an assortment of shapes to add to your documents, workbooks, and presentations. You'll also find the same shapes on various places on the Ribbon. Each shape can be customized and formatted in endless ways so that you can get just the right look. Shapes can be simple lines. Solid shapes can act as containers for text and even pictures.

Finding just the right shape is a breeze with the Shapes tab of the Media browser. Click the Media browser’s Shapes tab to display the built-in shapes available to you. You can filter shapes by category by clicking the All-Shapes pop-up menu at the top of the Media browser. There are several distinct kinds of shapes:

  • Solid shapes: A solid shape has an area that has a fill, such as a triangle or rectangle. Solid shapes can double as text boxes. To add text, you can simply start typing while a solid shape is selected. Every solid shape has a line that is the border of the shape. The fill area and the line are formatted independently.

  • Lines and Arrows: These shapes have no fillable area. Lines can be formatted to have arrows at either end. Lines have thickness (weight) and style. You can make a solid shape by connecting a line to itself to form a fillable area.

  • Connectors: Connectors are special lines that have elbows. You can adjust the elbows by dragging the yellow diamond associated with the elbow. Connectors are sticky in that if you connect the ends to other objects, when you move those objects the connector stays attached to the object.

  • Callouts: These are boxes with connectors permanently attached.

  • Action Buttons: These are available only in PowerPoint. Action Buttons have built-in properties that you can use for navigation, playing media, running macros, and more.

You’re probably itching to get your hands on one of these shapely shapes, but first, here’s the procedure for inserting shapes:

  1. Click inside your document in the approximate place you want to insert the shape.

  2. In the Media browser, select the Shapes tab. Click a shape in the Shapes palette.

  3. Hold down the left mouse button and drag across the document to draw a shape the size you want.

    Alternatively, click once on the shape in the Shapes palette and then once again in the document to place the selected shape. This creates a 1 x 1 inch shape. You can also drag a shape from the browser: Right-click a shape in the browser and choose copy to copy it to the Clipboard.

  4. Let go of the mouse button when you’re done.

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