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Icon-based Fonts

If you create training materials for Word, you might think that it could be very handy to have a "font" that consists of all the toolbar buttons available in Word. This would allow you to easily place the buttons in your document, at the proper place where you are explaining how to use the particular button.

There is no such font that I have been able to locate, but some enterprising person may come up with just that at some point. You could even download or purchase font-creation software that allows you to design your own fonts.

According to my understanding of fonts, however, there could be a big problem with this entire concept: Fonts are inherently in black and white, and toolbar buttons are inherently in color. When you create a font based on the buttons, those buttons would be converted to black and white images.

A better approach would be to keep the toolbar buttons as graphic images, which can appear in color in the document. One way to get the toolbar button images all in one place is to simply copy the entire screen to the Clipboard (press Shift+Print Screen) and paste it into your favorite graphics program. Once there, you can manipulate the graphic as you would with any other graphic image. Simply clip the button image you want and you can then save it or place it back into a document, as desired.

There is an even quicker way that you can paste toolbar button images in your document. Follow these steps:

  1. Choose Customize from the Tools menu. Word displays the Customize dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  2. Figure 1. The Customize dialog box.

  3. With the dialog box open, right-click on the button image you want to paste in your document. Word displays a Context menu.
  4. Choose Copy Button Image. The button image is now in the Clipboard.
  5. Click on Close to dismiss the Customize dialog box.
  6. Position the insertion point at the location where you want the button image.
  7. Press Ctrl+V. The button image is pasted into your document.

You should note that you cannot copy all toolbar buttons in this manner. For some inexplicable reason, the Copy Button Image option is not available for all of them. For instance, in Word 2000, the option was not available if the button I right-clicked on in step 2 was the Highlight tool. This is not the only tool where it didn't work, however. Among others it would not work for the Undo, Redo, Insert Table, Insert Microsoft Excel Worksheet, and Font Color tools.

The interesting thing, however, is that you can capture these button images if, while the Customize dialog box is open, you drag the tool from the Commands tab of the dialog box to someplace on your toolbar. This, obviously, will provide two copies of the tool you just placed, but the button image can be copied from the second instance even if it cannot from the first. Once the image is copied, you can remove the second button instance from your toolbar.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (73) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003.

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