Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Excel in Microsoft 365, and 2021. 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

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated February 11, 2023)
This tip applies to Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Excel in Microsoft 365, and 2021


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 Backward or, if you are using Excel 2007, click Send to Back.

You can do the same sort of arrangement by choosing Bring Forward instead of Send Backward or Bring to Front instead of Send to Back (Excel 2007). 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, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Excel in Microsoft 365, and 2021. 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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