Excel: Use the Text Pane to Build SmartArt

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Problem: How do I create SmartArt?

Strategy: Initially, you shouldn't worry about the graphics but should instead focus your attention on the text pane, where you can build bullet points of Level 1 and, optionally, Level 2 text.

Using the text pane is similar to building a slide in PowerPoint's Outline view.

When you choose Insert, SmartArt and select a layout, Excel will draw a default layout and place the insertion cursor in the text pane.

  1. SmartArt starts out with bullet points that show [Text].

    You can use these keys to navigate in the text pane:

    • Enter - Add a new shape at the same level as the current shape and immediately after the current shape.
    • Down Arrow - Move to the next shape without creating a new shape.
    • Tab - Demote the current shape one level. Pressing Tab on a Level 1 entry will change the entry to Level 2.
    • Shift+Tab - Promote the current shape one level. Pressing Shift+Tab on a Level 2 entry will change the entry to Level 1.
    • Delete - Pressing Delete when there is no text for a shape will delete the shape. Initially, you should focus all your attention on the text pane. As you type in the text pane, Excel will continue to render new shapes in the SmartArt graphic.

    Additional Details: In most of the SmartArt layouts, Excel will ensure that every shape is the same size and that every shape has the same font size. This works best when you have similar-length text in each shape. For example, each shape contains a single word or concept. The font sizes are fairly large.

  2. With similar length points, the fonts are fairly large.

    If you add a new shape with longer text, the font size in all the shapes will reduce to accommodate the longest entry. You can override this by using the Format ribbon tab as described in "œSwitch to the Format Tab to Format Individual Shapes" on page 580.

  3. Add a longer entry, and all the font sizes reduce.

    The text pane supports spell checking, formatting with the mini toolbar, and Cut and Paste.

    Alternate Strategy: It is possible to edit text directly in each shape. To do so, you hide the text pane and use the Add Shape menu on the Design tab in order to build your graphic.

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