Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, and 2013. 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: Drawing Simple Objects.
by Allen Wyatt
(last updated September 26, 2018)
Excel includes a feature that allows you to add graphic objects to your worksheets. For the sake of this tip, simple objects include lines, arrows, rectangles (or squares), and ovals (or circles). These are considered simple because it only takes three quick steps to draw each of them.
Drawing objects that involve lines (such as lines and arrows) requires only that you perform a few steps:
As you move the mouse in Step 3, notice that Excel displays a line that shows the approximate size, angle, and position of the line or arrow you are creating. When you release the mouse button (step 4), the line or arrow is redrawn in its final position and appearance. If you are drawing an arrow, the arrowhead appears at the end of the line where you ended your drawing (step 4).
As with lines, the other simple objects only require two points to define them. Each of them, regardless of the final shape, is defined by a rectangle. (Yes, even ellipses and circles are defined by a rectangle—one that contains the entire shape.) You only need to do the following:
Notice that as you perform step 3, the shape appears on the screen and is dynamically sized as long as you continue to hold down the mouse button and move the mouse. When you release the button, the object is drawn in its final size and shape.
If you want to create a square or a circle, both of which are special forms of rectangles and ovals, Excel makes it easy. All you need to do is hold down the Shift key as you drag the mouse to the second point. Thus, you click the mouse, hold down Shift as you move the mouse pointer, and then release the mouse button.
ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (10346) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, and 2013. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Drawing Simple Objects.
Save Time and Supercharge Excel! Automate virtually any routine task and save yourself hours, days, maybe even weeks. Then, learn how to make Excel do things you thought were simply impossible! Mastering advanced Excel macros has never been easier. Check out Excel 2010 VBA and Macros today!
If you use Excel's graphic capabilities to insert a line or an arrow into a worksheet, you can change how that arrow ...Discover More
Graphics can really add pizzazz to a worksheet, but they can also present some drawbacks. If you want to get rid of all ...Discover More
Don't like the way that Excel formats lines and arrows? You can easily make your own formatting changes, and then use ...Discover More
FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."
Got a version of Excel that uses the ribbon interface (Excel 2007 or later)? This site is for you! If you use an earlier version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the menu interface.