Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007 and 2010. If you are using an earlier version (Excel 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Excel, click here: Sending Drawing Objects to the Back or Front.

Sending Drawing Objects to the Back or Front

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated October 2, 2015)


When you create objects in Excel using the Shapes tool on the Insert tab of the ribbon, each object is drawn on its own layer. This means all objects are independent and can be moved on top of other objects. However, there may be times when you actually want an object to be under another object. You can do this by following these steps:

  1. Click on the shape whose order you want to change. Small square boxes called handles appear around the perimeter of the shape.
  2. Display the Format tab of the ribbon.
  3. In the Arrange group, click Send to Back.

You can do the same sort of arrangement by choosing Bring to Front instead of Send to Back. Excel will move an item which may be behind others so that it overlays the others.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (7736) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007 and 2010. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Sending Drawing Objects to the Back or Front.

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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What is eight minus 8?

2016-12-09 13:38:49


Only works if those controls are not grayed out.
How do you do it when you've inserted a picture into Excel and the options for send to back or bring forward have been grayed out?

2015-10-05 08:57:05


Chuck, thanks for recommending Visio, which I've heard of but didn't know could layer schematics. Will check it out.

2015-10-03 18:51:29

Harold Berman

I am missing The Excel Daily Nugget for the following dates, would it be possible to please resend them to me.

September 22, 28, 30,
October 1

I have checked my Junk Mail and Trash files for them.

Thank you

Harold Berman

2015-10-02 10:45:45

Chuck Trese

Don't know if this helps you any, but just fyi, MS-Visio does have this capability. It has a "layers" concept, where you can put any number of items on layer 1, another set on layer 2, another on layer 3, etc. For creating schematics, it is far better than Excel for sure. And since it is an MS product, you can embed its drawings in Excel, even link to the Excel data if you want. If you're not familiar with it, check it out. If your Excel is on a work computer for a large company, it's possible that you already have it included with the other Office products - or could request it.
(No, I'm not associated with MS in any way, just been using their products for a couple decades)

2015-10-02 09:09:33


Good to learn about rotating, thanks to Cyril! It would be great to be able to list objects in order from back to front, and to change their order by numbering them, or dragging up & down the picklist. Some of my schematics have sixty objects, and some are in sets of several at the same level. It's hard to put them in order with the standard back & front commands. It would be an easy feature for the Excel developers at MS to program, just like mapping software.

2015-10-02 07:42:47


In macro form: Shape.ZOrder().

2013-01-28 11:22:34


I was already familiar with this functionality, but I often use these tips as a prompt to review some features that I don't use that often.

In doing so, and completely by chance, I found a new feature with shapes that I was not aware of -- rotating the shape.

With the shape selected, hold the Alt key and press left and right arrows to rotate the shape. You can also move the shape by holding the Ctrl key and pressing the up/down/left/right arrows.

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