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One More Great-Looking Documents Post – Shapes

A few weeks ago I posted a series of articles about great-looking documents.  I have had a few questions about shapes since I wrote those posts, so I thought I would write a quick post on changes to shapes in Excel 2007 (and Office 2007 really – anything I write here applies to all the apps).

Much the same way that charts were improved (new great-looking visuals, results-oriented ribbon UI), shapes have been improved as well.  Here is a summary of the changes, which fall into a number of categories.

1. New graphics effects and options – like charts, shapes will look a lot better in Excel 2007 … in fact, charts are built using shapes in Excel 2007, so the improvements in shapes and charts in this area are identical.  Specifically,

  • Better shadows
  • Better gradients
  • True 3D effects
  • Glow
  • Soft Edges
  • Reflections
  • Picture recoloring
  • New shapes

Here is a shot of some shapes to give you an idea.  I have amped up the visual effects intentionally to show off what is possible.  Note – you can see the Shapes gallery on the Insert tab that lets you pick from the shapes


(Click to enlarge)

2. Use interface improvements – shapes now get their own contextual tab and a number of galleries, which makes it easier and faster to get the result you want.  Specifically,

  • Integration into the Ribbon makes formatting of shapes faster and easier
  • Integration with “live previews†makes it easier to see the result of formatting before it is applied (see here for more info on live preview)
  • New Formatting Dialogs expose detailed options more clearly and consistently, and which allows modeless application of changes

Here is a shot of the ribbon and one of the modeless dialogs to give you an idea as to what all that looks like.


(Click to enlarge)

3. Shape styles – in the same way that cells, Tables, charts, and PivotTables now support styles that pull their colour, font, and effects information from a document theme, meaning it is easy to have your shapes match the rest of your document content.

Here is a shot of the “Shape Styles†gallery.


(Click to enlarge)

4. Improved text – treatment of text in shapes (and WordArt) has also been improved in a number of ways.  Specifically, better text metrics (things like Kerning, character spacing, all caps, underline style, better support for international text directions) and better text formatting  (things like all shape text is now as fully featured as WordArt, new WordArt effects and styles, inline editing of WordArt).