Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Excel 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Excel, click here: Drawing Simple Objects.

Drawing Simple Objects

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated February 13, 2016)

Excel includes a feature that allows you to add graphic objects to your worksheets. For the sake of this tip, simple objects include lines, arrows, rectangles (or squares), and ovals (or circles). These are considered simple because it only takes three quick steps to draw each of them.

Drawing objects that involve lines (such as lines and arrows) requires only that you perform a few steps:

  1. Display the Drawing toolbar and select either the Line or Arrow tool by clicking on it with the mouse. (You may need to click the AutoShapes menu first.)
  2. Move the mouse to the starting point for the line or arrow and click and hold the mouse button.
  3. Move the mouse to the other end of the line and release the mouse button.

As you move the mouse in Step 2, notice that Excel displays a line that shows the approximate size, angle, and position of the line or arrow you are creating. When you release the mouse button (step 3), the line or arrow is redrawn in its final position and appearance. If you are drawing an arrow, the arrowhead appears at the end of the line where you ended your drawing (Step 3).

As with lines, the other simple objects only require two points to define them. Each of them, regardless of the final shape, is defined by a rectangle. (Yes, even ellipses and circles are defined by a rectangle—one that contains the entire shape.) You only need to do the following:

  1. If you are using the Drawing toolbar, select the drawing tool by clicking on it with the mouse. (You may need to click the AutoShapes menu first.)
  2. Move the mouse to one corner of the rectangle that will define the boundary of the shape, typically the upper-left corner, and click and hold the mouse button.
  3. Drag the mouse to the opposite rectangle corner (the lower-right) and release the mouse button.

Notice that as you perform step 2, the shape appears on the screen and is dynamically sized as long as you continue to hold down the mouse button and move the mouse. When you release the button, the object is drawn in its final size and shape.

If you want to create a square or a circle, both of which are special forms of rectangles and ovals, Excel makes it easy. All you need to do is hold down the Shift key as you drag the mouse to the second point. Thus, you click the mouse, hold down Shift as you move the mouse pointer, and then release the mouse button.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2520) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Excel (Excel 2007 and later) here: Drawing Simple Objects.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Counting Colors from Conditional Formats

Conditional formatting is a great way to make sure that your information looks a particular way, even if the information ...

Discover More

Ways to Combat Body Odor

Offensive body odor can be a problem for some people. If you need to reduce your body odor, there are several things you can ...

Discover More

Decimal Tab Alignment

If you are familiar with decimal tabs in Word, you may wonder if you can set the same sort of alignment in Excel. The short ...

Discover More

Comprehensive VBA Guide Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) is the language used for writing macros in all Office programs. This complete guide shows both professionals and novices how to master VBA in order to customize the entire Office suite for their needs. Check out Mastering VBA for Office 2010 today!

More ExcelTips (menu)

Sending Drawing Objects to the Back or Front

Not only can you place drawing objects in your worksheets, but you can organize those objects so some are in front and some ...

Discover More

Using the Mouse to Adjust Your View of 3-D Graphs

Want to adjust the perspective from which your 3-D graph is viewed? Excel allows you to use the mouse to rotate the graph in ...

Discover More

Adjusting Picture Appearance

Excel provides the Picture toolbar to help you modify any images in your worksheet. This tip explains how to use the toolbar ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 8Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is 6 - 4?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)


This Site

Got a version of Excel that uses the menu interface (Excel 97, Excel 2000, Excel 2002, or Excel 2003)? This site is for you! If you use a later version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the ribbon interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.