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: Specifying an Order for Drawing Objects.

Specifying an Order for Drawing Objects

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated August 23, 2021)
This tip applies to Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003


When you create drawing objects in Excel, each object is drawn on its own layer. This means all objects are independent and can be moved on top of other objects. This means that once you have drawn a number of different objects you can reorder them so that they appear in the order that you desire. You can do this by following these steps:

  1. Select the pointer tool (the arrow) from the Drawing toolbar.
  2. Using the mouse, point to the shape whose order you want to change. Small square boxes called handles appear at each corner in the shape.
  3. Choose Order from the Draw menu on the toolbar. Excel displays a set of ordering commands.
  4. Choose the ordering command that represents what you want to do.

You can also access the ordering commands by right-clicking on a drawing object and choosing Order from the resulting Context menu. There are four different ordering commands:

  • Bring to Front. This option places the selected object on top of the layer stack, so it appears in front of any other objects.
  • Send to Back. This option moves the selected object behind any other drawing objects.
  • Bring Forward. This option simply moves the drawing object one step closer to the top of the layer stack.
  • Send Backward. This option moves the drawing object one layer toward the bottom of the layer stack.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2599) 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: Specifying an Order for Drawing 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. ...

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