Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 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: Understanding the Drawing Canvas.

Understanding the Drawing Canvas

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated November 9, 2013)

Word, for quite some time, has allowed you to add graphics to your documents. If you are creating the graphics yourself, the normal way to add the graphics is through the use of the Drawing toolbar. All you need to do is click on the drawing tool you want to use, and then use the tool to create the item in your document.

Beginning in Word 2002, Microsoft made a change in how you create drawing objects. When you click on one of the drawing tools in Word 2002 or Word 2003, the program creates a "drawing canvas" in your document, at the location of the insertion point. This canvas has the words "Create Drawing Here" clearly visible within it.

The purpose of the drawing canvas is to help you organize your drawing objects. Essentially, it provides a container for the pieces and parts that make up your drawing. The drawing canvas is initially transparent and has no border around it, but you can change those settings using the same techniques that you use to change colors and borders on other drawing objects.

Remember that the drawing canvas is supposed to be an organizational aid. As such, it comes in very handy when you are creating a drawing that contains several individual drawing objects. For instance, you might combine different shapes to create a complex drawing. If those shapes are contained within the drawing canvas, then they are easier to manage as a whole.

If you simply add one or two independent drawing objects to your document, then the drawing canvas is of little value. For instance, you don't need the drawing canvas if you are simply adding an arrow, line, or a circle to your document. If you know you won't need the drawing canvas, you can dispense with it right after it appears by pressing Ctrl+Z, Backspace, Esc, or Del right away. This gets rid of the drawing canvas, but does not turn off the drawing tool you selected. You can continue to place the drawing object in your document, as desired.

There is one benefit to using the drawing canvas that you should be aware of—it allows you to use connectors between shapes. Connectors are lines that stay "connected" to set points on a shape. If you move the shapes that are connected by a connector line, then the line expands, contracts, or moves as necessary to keep the connection in place. Connector lines are available only within a drawing canvas.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (3781) applies to Microsoft Word 2002 and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Word (Word 2007 and later) here: Understanding the Drawing Canvas.

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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