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SmartArt Graphics with Style

Here is the second guest post from Matthew Kotler, a lead program manager on the SmartArt team.

In the last post, I presented an overview of SmartArt Graphics.  In this post, I’ll show how to take the basic SmartArt Graphic that you have created and format it to make it really stand out (or subtly fit in, depending on your goal).  Just like cells, tables, and shapes, SmartArt Graphics build on the rich functionality of document themes.  When you insert a SmartArt Graphic into your spreadsheet (or document or presentation) you can be assured that it will match the rest of the content on the sheet.  Like each of these other objects, if you change the theme of the spreadsheet, the look of the SmartArt Graphic will change. 

SmartArt Graphics also includes two galleries for quickly changing the look of a graphic on the Design tab under SmartArt Tools.


(Click to enlarge)

The first gallery provides a range of different stylistic options including different shape fills, line styles, shadows, and 3D effects.  Like many of the other galleries across Office 2007, this gallery has automatic live preview to show what your graphic could look like with one of the quick styles applied.  

Here’s the same SmartArt Graphic with a few styles applied:

The second gallery provides a range of different color options that can be selected for a SmartArt Graphic, each one applying one or more theme color in a different way to the graphic.

And here’s that same SmartArt Graphic with a few color variations applied:

The goal of each of these galleries, combining a SmartArt Graphic with an array of styles and color variations, is to allow you to create a unique visual. 

But, if the built in galleries are not enough to give you the look you want, almost all elements of a SmartArt Graphic are customizable. 
SmartArt Graphics are built on the same foundation as regular shapes in Excel.  Therefore, if you do not like the automatic text sizing, you can override it by manually applying a different font size.  If the quick style gallery does not have the right combination of fills, lines, and effects then you can apply an individual shape style or fully customize the shape yourself.  If the size and position of a shape on the worksheet is not the way you want it, then you can just move the shape around or resize it.  The formatting tab within “SmartArt Tools” provides an entry point to many of these customizations:


(Click to enlarge)

Even after applying any of these customizations you can still go back and change to a different layout and SmartArt Graphics will attempt to bring those customizations forward.  I recommend saving your customizations for the end but this gives you the flexibility to make sure that the graphic communicates what you want it to.  Just in case you realize you have gone too far with customizations, there’s always the Reset Graphic button back on the Design tab to take you back to a happy place. 

SmartArt Graphics gives you the tools to quickly and effectively communicate your message with formatting options that ensure a professional and unique result.