Office For Mac

Kurt’s Power Tip #6: All about shapes

Shapes is one of the more underutilized features in Office for Mac 2011, and in this week’s Power Tip I will show you why it should be used more often.

In presentations and documents (and in spreadsheets, but to a lesser extent), quality graphics can often convey a wealth of information in a minimal amount of space. A well-done graphic can also really impress the reader, and a poorly designed or poorly executed graphic can, at best, confuse the reader or, at worst, lower their opinion of the author.

While Office for Mac is not designed primarily as a graphics authoring environment, Office does include graphical tools like SmartArt, picture formatting, and Shapes that can make the creation of well-executed graphics easy, even for those who are artistically-challenged, like me.

“Shapes” is the term applied to the set of features in Office involved with the creation and formatting of geometric objects like circles, triangles, lines, arrows, and other simple shapes. (There are 172 such simple shapes in Office.) PowerPoint, Word, and Excel all have Shapes functionality, although Shapes are probably most widely used in PowerPoint, so that is where I will create all the figures and movies for this blog posting. Shapes enable you to create graphics like these four samples:

and to some extent, you can consider SmartArt to be sets of shapes together with dynamic behavior that enables the shapes to change their structure to fit a set of ideas the author is trying to convey. SmartArt is “shapes with intelligence” that enables you to easily create graphics like these:

(The Tabbed Arc and the Word Snake SmartArt layouts can be downloaded from and added to Office for Mac 2011.)

In this short movie, you can see one way to add a new shape to a presentation – via the Shapes menu – and see how easy it is to format the new shape:

and in this short movie, you can see another way to add a new shape – via the Media Palette: (Both movies also give you an impression of the wide variety of shapes that are easily available in Office.)

Sets of shaped can be more than just a loose collection of geometric primitives. Shapes have connectors that maintain their relationships, even when the shapes are moved or scaled, as you can see in this movie:

Since the graphical connectivity of connectors is preserved, the task of later modifying the position or size of the shapes, without disturbing the overall structure of the complete graphic is much easier.

I hope this background on Shapes helps you create great-looking graphics you want to add to your presentations, documents, and spreadsheets.

New week I will tell you about an undocumented feature of Shapes which will give you the ability to create an even wider set of shapes.

-Kurt Schmucker, Office for Mac Evangelist

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Share files across Office for Mac and Office

Cell formatting, sparklines, and data bars look great in Excel for Mac 2011, and you can easily share files with people who have Office 2010 without losing your formatting. Doug and Jessica show you right here, almost live, from Mom 2.0 in New Orleans. And here is how Jessica uses Excel for Mac 2011 to [...]

April 15th, 2011
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Kurt’s Power Tip #5: Easy transition and animation preview in PowerPoint

Until today, most of the Power Tips in this blog have been Word tips. But there are three other major apps in the Office for Mac suite, and for each there is a wide range of tips to share with you. So, this is my first tip for PowerPoint for Mac 2011. You may have [...]

April 12th, 2011
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[UPDATE: SP1 Now Available for Download] Coming Soon: Office for Mac 2011 SP1

UPDATE: Service Pack 1 is now available for download here: Next week, we will release Office for Mac 2011 Service Pack 1 (SP1) which will provide increased stability, security, and some new features to the suite – including improved Outlook syncing support – as well as some performance enhancements. As we shared several months [...]

April 6th, 2011
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Kurt’s Power Tip #4: Spell Check 101

This week’s Power Tip is about spell check – functionality that is in all four of the main Office for Mac 2011 applications – and how to enable it and disable it in certain special situations. I’ll share some examples later in this post. To start off with some background, the spell check functionality in [...]

March 24th, 2011
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Questions about Custom Equations in Word

First of all, thanks to everyone for your comments in response to my last tip on equation editing in Word for Mac 2011. I was thrilled to see the conversation spread and decided to postpone my planned Power Tip for this week in favor of answering your questions. As you read through this, if you [...]

March 16th, 2011
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Kurt’s Power Tip #3: Optimize equation editing in Word for Mac 2011

For users who add or edit equations in their Word docs, the new equation editor in Word for Mac 2011 is a welcome new feature that makes equation editing cross-platform with Word for Windows. I’ve been editing equations on the Mac for many years (after all, in a previous life, I was the leader of [...]

March 3rd, 2011
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Kurt’s Power Tip #2: The Magic Behind Windows Office Compatible Fonts

Office for Mac 2011 made significant improvements in compatibility and visual fidelity with Office for Windows. But there is still one area of visual fidelity for which you, the end user, have great deal of control when you create new documents: fonts.  If you create a text document in Word, a spreadsheet in Excel, or [...]

February 24th, 2011
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Kurt’s Power Tip #1: Bring Your Words to Life with Advanced Typography

As a follow up to last week’s post on how to turn your Word doc into a work of art, I’m here to tell you more about the advanced typographic controls we added to Word for Mac 2011 and how you can use them to design some really impressive looking text. Take these, for example: [...]

February 17th, 2011
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Turn your Word doc into a Work of Art

When you think of research papers, quarterly reports, or even Word documents, you don’t exactly think of beauty, right?  With Word for Mac 2011, we wanted to give you something more – the tools to create beautiful, polished documents that may not keep you on the cutting edge of fashion, but will certainly turn heads [...]

February 7th, 2011
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