Applying a Gradient Fill to a Shape in Office 2011 for Mac - dummies

Applying a Gradient Fill to a Shape in Office 2011 for Mac

By Geetesh Bajaj, James Gordon

The Gradient tab of the Fill panel in the Format Shape dialog is where you fill a shape with a gradient in Office 2011 for Mac. Although it looks complicated at first, after you play with it, you’ll love its flexibility. This dialog is fun to use and can produce superb-looking gradient fills.

The Live Preview feature makes the selected shape reflect the adjustments you make to the controls in this dialog as you adjust the controls. If your selected shape is covered by the dialog, move the Format Shape dialog to uncover the shape.


The Styles and Direction section of the Gradient tab is where you begin making your gradient fill adjustments. The first thing you do is choose a style from the Style pop-up menu:

  • Style: Choose from four different styles: Linear, Radial, Rectangular, and Path. There’s also a None option, which can be helpful if you want to remove pre-applied gradients and change them to solid fills.

  • Angle direction: There are three ways to set the angle direction of a gradient fill. Angle direction applies to linear style only:

    • Click the dot on the round control and drag around the circle.

    • Type a specific value into the spinner control.

    • Click the spinner control’s up- and down-arrow buttons.

  • Direction: Click this pop-up menu to choose a gradient direction from several different positions within the shape. Use this control instead of Angle direction when working with Radial or Rectangular styles. This option is not available for the Linear and Path style gradients.

The Color and Transparency section lets you add multiple colors and shades of color to your shape’s gradient fill:

  • Color handle: Each color handle underneath the live preview rectangle in the Format Shape dialog represents a color in your gradient fill. You can drag the color handles left and right to control the gradient stop blending percentage within the gradient. The control affects one color within your gradient. When you click a color handle, it becomes darker, and the Color control will update to let you know which color you’re controlling. To add a new handle, click the Add Color button.

  • Gradient Stop: Adjusts the blending point of the selected color handle within the shape expressed as a percentage. You have three ways to adjust intensity:

    • Drag the color handle left and right.

    • Type a value in the gradient stop’s spinner control.

    • Click the gradient stop’s spinner control buttons.

  • Add Color: Each time you click the Add Color button, a new color handle is added beneath the Live Preview rectangle and becomes the selected handle.

  • Delete Color: Deletes the currently selected color handle and its associated gradient color.

  • Color: Displays the color palette so you can choose a color to apply to the currently selected color handle’s gradient.

    Gradients that are pleasing to the eye are easy to make by choosing colors that are within a single column of the Theme colors of the color palette.

  • Transparency: Drag the slider or use the spinner control to adjust transparency of the selected color handle.

  • Rotate Gradient with Shape: Select this check box if you want the gradient fill to rotate along with the shape when you rotate it.