Using AutoShape Connectors

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated May 18, 2013)

AutoShapes are a great way to add common graphic flourishes to your document. If you are using Word 2002 or Word 2003, the drawing capabilities of Word allow you to define connectors that link different AutoShapes together. These connectors are available if you create your drawing within the drawing canvas, and they are dynamic in nature. This means that even if you move the connected AutoShapes around on the canvas, the connectors stretch, bend, and move as necessary to keep the links valid.

To see how connectors work, try this if you are using Word 2002 or Word 2003:

  1. Make sure the Drawing toolbar is displayed.
  2. Using the AutoShapes menu on the Drawing toolbar, choose an AutoShape you want to create.
  3. Word displays the drawing canvas at the current position of the insertion point. This is where you will do your work.
  4. Click and drag within the drawing canvas to create the AutoShape you selected in step 2.
  5. Use the AutoShapes menu to choose another AutoShape.
  6. Click and drag within the drawing canvas to create the second AutoShape.
  7. Using the AutoShapes menu, choose the Connectors category. The menu shows nine different types of connectors you can create. A connector is basically a line, so these nine types represent different variations of lines you can use.
  8. Pick the connector type you wish to use.
  9. In the drawing canvas, move the mouse pointer over one of the AutoShapes you previously placed. You should see one or more blue dots appear around the perimeter of the shape. These dots are smaller than the regular handles, and they represent connection points you can use.
  10. Click on or near one of the blue connection points. This anchors one end of the connector.
  11. Move the mouse pointer over the other AutoShape and click on a connection point there. The connector is now in place. (See Figure 1.)
  12. Figure 1. One end of the connector is anchored, and the mouse is being moved to the other AutoShape.

Now you can move the original AutoShapes around, and the connector remains connected to the two connection points you selected. You can add additional AutoShapes, as desired, with any connectors you desire.

You should be aware that connectors are only available between AutoShapes that are placed within the drawing canvas. If you try to create a connector involving an AutoShape that is outside of the drawing canvas, connectors are no longer available from the menus or ribbon.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (5487) applies to Microsoft Word 2002 and 2003.

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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