Microsoft Excel is known primarily as a spreadsheet application that organises large amounts of data into columns and rows. However, the program also offers a wide variety of graphic editing tools. The ability to draw, colour, and label parts of any Excel worksheet further extends the reach of this software. These tools can significantly add to the interactivity of a spreadsheet. Effective use of the drawing tools makes it easier to understand the flow of data within an Excel file.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Easy
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Display the "Drawing" tool bar, if necessary, on Excel versions prior to 2007. Usually this tool bar is turned on by default and positioned at the bottom of the Excel window. If it is not on, click on the "View" menu and select the "Toolbars" sub-menu. Verify that a check mark is next to the "Drawing" item in the list. If not, click on "Drawing" to enable the tool bar.
Click on the "Arrow" button. This button is situated five buttons from the left edge of the "Drawing" tool bar. The label "Arrow" should pop up as you hover the mouse over the button.
Click anywhere on the spreadsheet and hold down the left mouse button. Drag with the mouse to any spot on the spreadsheet you would like to label. Release the mouse button. An arrow is drawn to point at the desired spreadsheet location.
Click the "Text box" button on the "Drawing" tool bar. This button is three buttons to the right of the "Arrow" button. The "Text box" button is a white square with a small letter "A" situated inside it.
Position the mouse at the starting point of the previously drawn arrow.
Click and hold down the left mouse button. Drag the mouse gently to the left and down to create a square. Drag far enough to create a square of the size necessary to contain your desired label text.
Release the mouse. A text box appears with a blinking cursor inside.
Type a label into the text box.
Click anywhere else on the spreadsheet to deactivate the text box. A part of the Excel spreadsheet has now been labelled with a text box and corresponding arrow to describe a section of the sheet.
Repeat the process as desired to label other parts of the Excel spreadsheet.
Tips and warnings
- The "Drawing" tool bar is a standard feature in all versions of Excel prior to 2007. The same features are available in version 2007, but are displayed not on a single tool bar but rather the "ribbon" tool bar collection at the top of the program. The same tools are launched by clicking on buttons in the "Insert" tab of the ribbon. Within this tab are the groups "Illustrations" and "Text." The "Text Box" and "Shapes" buttons in these locations will provide the same functionality as the buttons on the "Drawing" tool bar from previous versions.
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