Microsoft Word offers a number of useful tools for text positioning. One of these is the text box. As well as positioning text, they can be used to set text apart from the rest of the document.
The text box itself can have a border on one or more sides, or no border. You can also apply a shadow, and a background text colour. And text boxes can be linked, so text from one flows into the next.
Text boxes allow you to turn your text on its side. This effect can also be achieved within a table cell.
There is no inbuilt way of typing in vertical text. Use the workarounds suggested here for a different type of heading.
This article also covers dropped capitals. Although not seen often in modern documents, they add a formal and interesting touch.
A text box is a space where you can type text or add graphics. It is in a different “layer” to the general text in the document. As a result, you can set text wrap options (eg square or tight). Text boxes can be positioned anywhere on the page. They can be repositioned, and resized.
Text boxes can also have other attributes changed, such as line, fill, shadow, and 3-D.
To add a text box, follow these steps. Remember to first display the Drawing Toolbar (click on View – Toolbars – Drawing).
1. Click once on the Text Box button on the Drawing toolbar. Alternatively, click on Insert – Text Box. Your mouse pointer changes to a cross-hair.
2. Click and drag within your page to draw the text box. Note that it can be moved or resized as wanted later.
3. Once the text box is on the page, you can type text inside it. You can also add a graphic inside the text box. Check the cursor is flashing within the text box before typing, or adding your image.
4. Text can be formatted as with any other text on the page – bold, italics, tabs, font size, alignment.
5. Click outside the text box when done.
To enter text onto a blank slide in PowerPoint, you need to first draw a text box. Other auto layouts already contain areas for adding text.
Begin typing your text straight away. Otherwise, your text box disappears. This behaviour is different from Word, where the text box stays put, even if empty.
To modify your text box, treat it as a normal AutoShape, with a couple of things to remember.
Text boxes have two “modes”. I call them Text Mode and AutoShape Mode. In Text Mode, the lines around the outside of the text box are diagonal. And there is a flashing cursor inside. In this mode, you can enter and edit text within the text box.
Click on the border of the text box and the lines change to dots. The flashing cursor also disappears. In this (AutoShape) mode, you can modify line, fill, 3-D and shadow settings for your text box. To make these changes, right-click on the edge of the text box and choose Format Text Box. Change the settings in the dialogue box as wanted, and click OK when done.
While in AutoShape mode, the text box can be moved. Click and drag the box by an edge to reposition it. Click and drag a handle to resize the text box.
With the text box selected, you should also see the Text Box toolbar. If the toolbar is not visible:
1. Click on Tools – Customise.
2. Choose the Toolbars tab.
3. Scroll down and tick Text Box.
4. Click on Close.
The toolbar lets you link text boxes, break links, jump between text boxes, and change the text direction within the selected text box.
Once your text box is in the document, you can try many different effects. For example, give it a shadow but no line. Or remove the lines and use it to display a quote from the text (the text needs to be larger, centred and possibly bold for it to stand apart from the body text).
Text boxes can be linked. Use the chain button on the text box toolbar. Text that does not fit in one text box will overflow into the next one
Probably the best way to add vertical text is by using a vertical text style from the WordArt gallery.
You could also draw a narrow text box, and press Enter after each character. You may need to experiment with justification, font size, font style and position, to make it look good and be readable.
You will also need to experiment with text wrapping to see which works best (including distance from document text).
You can add a vertical text header to every page. This can enhance the appearance of flyers, newsletters, reports and bulletins.
1. To create a vertical header, first choose File, Page Setup and click the Margins tab. Set the top margin to -1 and click OK.
2. Now, choose View, Header and Footer and then choose Format, Paragraph. When the Paragraph dialog box opens, set the Left indentation to -72 pt and click OK. This gives you about one inch of space. Choose Format, Font and choose the font, font size, and colour (if desired) and click OK.
3. Type in your text now, one letter at a time. To make the text vertical, press Enter after each letter and press Enter twice after each word. You may have to experiment to get the text placed where you want it.
One way to change the direction of your text is to insert a text box, and then change the direction of the text. This is probably best suited to making short sentences or phrases stand out. A whole paragraph set up in this way would be very difficult to read. It may look good in a newsletter or other "display" document.
To do this:
1. Insert a text box.
2. Enter your text into the text box.
3. Use the text box toolbar button for Text Direction. Or choose Format – Text Direction.
4. Choose a direction for your text.
5. Click on OK.
6. Modify other text box attributes as required (line, fill, shadow, etc).
Note that the letters don’t appear underneath each other, but rather it’s as if you changed the orientation of the page.
If you want the first letter of a paragraph to stand out, you can use a dropped capital letter. This means that the first letter is put into a frame, and enlarged. It can look good in newsletters and other text-heavy documents.
Find a font that differs from the paragraph font. You may be able to find one that is fancy, or includes a picture (a picture alphabet font).
The steps are:
1. Click on the paragraph that you want to begin with a dropped capital letter. The paragraph must contain text.
2. Click on Format/Drop Cap.
3. Click on Dropped, or In Margin, depending on your preferences. If you select Dropped, then the text of the next few lines will wrap around the dropped capital, and then align itself back on the left margin. If you select In Margin, the first paragraph will be slightly indented, and the dropped capital will appear in the margin. The diagrams in the dialogue box help explain what each option looks like.
4. In the same dialogue box, you can select a font for your capital, as well as the number of lines you want it to take up, and the distance it should sit from the text.
5. Click on OK to see the results.
This and the previous article have hopefully given you some good ideas for improving the look and readability of an otherwise plain document. A document with special effects such as these is more likely to be picked up and read.