Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Word 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Word, click here: Changing Defaults for Text Boxes and Callouts.

Changing Defaults for Text Boxes and Callouts

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated December 5, 2015)

Word allows you to easily add text boxes and callouts to your documents. These can be used for a variety of purposes, and you can format the text box or callout to appear just about any way you desire. Word refers to text boxes and callouts, collectively, as AutoShapes. If you find yourself making a lot of similar changes to AutoShapes, you can set the default values of them in the following manner:

  1. Set up your AutoShape to appear as you desire.
  2. Right-click on the AutoShape. Word displays a Context menu.
  3. Select Set AutoShape Defaults from the Context menu.

Now, the next time you insert an AutoShape, it will retain many of the same default settings that you defined in step 1. It won't retain them all, however. Word remembers things like line weight, line type, and color, but it does not remember things like text attributes within the text box or the direction and length of callout tails.

There are several ways around this problem, however. If you are using the exact same AutoShape multiple times in the same document, simply select the one that is formatted as you want, hold down the Ctrl key, and drag the AutoShape to a new location. By holding down the Ctrl key you inform Word that you want to copy the AutoShape rather than move it.

A more versatile solution is to simply define your AutoShape as an AutoText entry. Follow these steps:

  1. Set up your AutoShape to appear as you desire.
  2. Select the AutoShape. (Just click on it once.)
  3. Press Alt+F3. Word displays the Create AutoText dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The Create AutoText dialog box.

  5. Provide a name for the callout. Use a name that is representative of the AutoShape's purpose.
  6. Click on OK. The AutoText entry is now created.

Later, when you want to use the AutoText entry, simply type the name of the entry (the one you provided in step 4) and then press F3. In the case being discussed here, the AutoShape, complete with all formatting settings, is inserted in your document.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (1561) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Word (Word 2007 and later) here: Changing Defaults for Text Boxes and Callouts.

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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