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How to Use Predefined Shapes in iBooks Author

In iBooks Author, you can add shapes, such as lines, circles, squares, and speech bubbles, for traditional (static) infographics. iBooks Author provides 15 predefined shapes, plus the Pen tool that you can use to draw your own lines and shapes using a method called Bézier.

A Bézier pen tool is the standard pen tool in almost every illustration application and is widely used in many other programs’ drawing functions.

You might use shapes for one of two reasons:

  • As a graphical embellishment in a layout, such as having a blue square next to all chapter titles

  • As part of a diagram or other illustration composed of multiple shapes and text boxes

Adding a shape is simple: Choose one from the Shapes icon menu in the toolbar, or choose Insert→Shape and choose one from the submenu that appears.

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Here’s what you can do with a shape:

  • Resize it and move it like any object.

  • Add a fill (including an image, to create a cameo effect), change the border’s stroke, give it a drop shadow, and change its transparency level like you can with other objects by using the Graphic inspector or in the Format bar. (If the Format bar isn’t visible below the toolbar, choose View→Show Format Bar or press Shift+Command+R.)

  • Add text wrap around a shape, just like you can with any other object, by using the Wrap inspector.

  • Flip the shape by using the Flip Horizontally and Flip Vertically menu options in the Arrange menu and in the Metrics inspector.

  • Rotate a shape via the controls in the Metrics inspector or by Command-dragging a selection handle.

There’s a major difference between manipulating shapes and most other objects: When you drag a selection handle, you reshape the shape, you don’t resize it proportionally. To resize a shape proportionally, hold Shift while dragging any selection handle. (Text boxes work the same way as shapes in this regard.)

Finally, you can enter text into a shape; just double-click it. Thus, you don’t have to overlap text boxes onto shapes to make labeled shapes.

And here’s a secret: iBooks Author really has just 8 shapes available; 7 of the 15 shapes presented in the menus are in fact variations of existing shapes that you can create yourself.

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