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: Creating a Drawing Object.

Creating a Drawing Object

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


Excel allows you to create drawing objects you can use in your worksheets. These objects (such as an oval, rectangle, line, or a variety of other shapes) are positioned on what is termed the "drawing layer," which is separate and distinct from the values or formulas in the cells of your worksheet. You generally create such objects by using the tools in the Illustrations group of the Insert tab of the ribbon. It is the Shapes tool that is used to create the objects. Follow these instructions:

  1. Make sure the Insert tab of the ribbon is displayed.
  2. Click the Shapes tool in the Illustrations group. Excel displays a number of different shapes you can create.
  3. Click on the shape that you want to create. The mouse pointer changes to crosshairs (a plus sign).
  4. Click within your worksheet at one corner of where you want the shape to appear.
  5. Drag the mouse to the opposite corner of the object.
  6. When you release the mouse button, the object appears in the worksheet and you can manipulate it as desired.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (7802) 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: Creating a Drawing Object.

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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