Word SmartArt Graphics – Tips and Tricks

Build Enhanced Documents Visually with SmartArt

Most people are visual learners. If we are taught a process verbally, we may not clearly understand the steps involved or, more importantly, may not even remember the instructions. To ensure users connect the dots when you present complex material, go the extra step and use SmartArt graphics to visually communicate your information.

Inclusion of SmartArt in a document or presentation can improve the audience’s visualization of lists, processes, and organizational charts. Microsoft provides flexibility to create graphics that are complex and visually enhanced. SmartArt graphics in Word can be used to add visual interest not only in Word manuals but in Excel organizational charts—and to prevent your audience from falling asleep during your PowerPoint presentations.

SmartArt can be found on the Insert Tab in the Ribbon, in all versions of Microsoft Office 2007, 2010, and 2013.

SmartArt

Insert SmartArt Graphics

Word SmartArt graphics are organized by categories (see Step 1 below) on the left of the SmartArt menu. In the middle of the menu, users can see the various types of graphics that are available within each category (Step 2). When a specific graphic has been selected, the righthand side displays a preview with a description of how that graphic will work for your purposes (Step 3). Be sure to read the description of the graphic you select, as it specifies how many levels of text are allowed in each shape.

SmartArt
In the example, I decided to insert a SmartArt graphic into PowerPoint.

SmartArt
Many users do not realize that some SmartArt images can be animated with the presentation. I am using the Gear SmartArt graphic, which can be animated with each gear rotating in different directions at different times.

When inserting SmartArt into any application, two new contextual tabs will appear in the ribbon.

SmartArt
These tabs house several tools to modify the SmartArt. Use the Text Pane to alter the text fields within your selected shape.

SmartArt
Some shapes also allow you to type your text directly onto the text fields, but for the best flow of your text onto the shapes, always use the text pane. Click the arrow to the left of the graphic box; this will open the text pane.

Most users are comfortable with bullets because they are a staple of Microsoft Office. Each main shape is represented by a primary bullet. When Enter is pressed, it adds a new bullet (to indicate a main or separate topic). This graphic does not allow for more shapes to be added, indicated by a red “x” in the screenshot below. If we want a secondary bullet, however, we press Tab to demote the bullet. Note that this will add a new shape off of the primary shape in our graphic.

SmartArt

Enhance Your Graphic

  1. Select your SmartArt graphic
  2. On the Design tab of the SmartArt Tools contextual tab, choose a Smartart Style
  3. Select the Change Colors option to customize your SmartArt

If you want to animate this object in PowerPoint, choose the Animations tab to get started. Have fun—but remember with professional presentations, “less is more.” It is easy to get carried away with your animations.

Insert a Signature Line in Word

How many times have you ever needed to insert a signature line into your Word documents, either a physical signature line or a digital signature? Maybe you are selling a vehicle or leasing rental property and want to create a contractual binding document that includes signatures from both parties in the agreement.

Word provides the option to quickly insert a signature line to have others physically sign the document. Here are the basic steps in the process:

  1. Place cursor on the document where signature line will be placed
  2. Click the Insert tab
  3. Choose Signature Line from the menu’s Text group
    SmartArt Signature Line
  4. In the field provided, type in the Suggested Signer’s name as it should be displayed
  5. Type in the signer’s Title and Email Address if applicable
  6. Select your choice of options to allow the signer to add comments and to add a signature date (applicable for digital signature)
  7. Press OK

The signature line now appears in your document.

SmartArt Signature Line
This signature format can be printed for a physical document or can be emailed to the user to sign digitally.

Most users employ this feature for physically signed documentation.

Digital Signatures

Digital signatures are used to verify that a document’s information is true and from a trustworthy source. By using a digital signature, Word places a unique encryption algorithm on the document that can be used as an identifier of an individual while encrypting the message between sender and recipient. The digital signature is used as an authentication method when a signee is not physically present to sign a document.

Digital signatures will be discussed in greater detail later in this series.

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