Using Autoshapes and Connectors in Word

Trying to draw a chart for a Word document? If the chart you're trying to draw comprises shapes connected by lines and/or arrows, you'll definitely love AutoShapes and Connectors!

1. About AutoShapes

You “draw” an AutoShape just like any other: select the shape, place your cursor on your page, and drag your mouse to draw it, then let go. An AutoShape has all the basic capabilities of normal shapes, i.e. you can enlarge/shrink it with its “handles”, drag it to a new location, fill it with a different color, put a text box inside it, change its border, right click and “format” it, etc.

But Autoshapes are “smarter” than ordinary shapes. Among their capabilities: the polygons in Basic Shapes and the symbols in the Flowchart menu have automatic connection points for attaching the various lines and arrows in the Connectors menu. This makes it trivial to link shapes nicely and neatly. Furthermore, when you move or resize an Autoshape, its connectors move with it, making it far easier to “clean up” your drawing once you've put down the basics.

2. Creating your graphic

Find your drawing toolbar along the bottom of the window. (If you don't see your drawing menu, go to Tools | Customize | Toolbars, and check “Drawing”.) Click ‘AutoShapes' to bring up the AutoShapes menu. Select the ‘Basic Shapes' or ‘Flowchart' menu. Click on any shape to select it. Draw it as you would any drawing shape. (You'll need to put down at least two such shapes to experiment with Connectors.)

Now take a look at the ‘Connectors' menu. Choose a connector, then move your cursor over an Autoshape you've drawn. You'll see several small, blue squares at the midpoints of the Autoshape's line segments. These are ‘smart' connection points. To attach a connector, move your cursor over one of the connection points, left click and hold, and then move your cursor to a connection point on the second AutoShape and let go. The connection you've just made is “fixed”, that is, it will persist even when you move or resize either shape.

This article provided courtesy of Shulman Clark Associates - Ann Arbor, MI - Providing Practical Technology Services For Small Business