Better icons come to Office for Windows

Coming soon to Office 2016 for Windows for Office 365 subscribers is a new type of graphic – the icon.

Office 365 Insiders have this now and it’ll be sent to all Office 2016 for Windows/Office 365 subscribers in 2017.

It’s an addition to the Insert tab and needs an Internet connection to fill the selection pane each time the dialog is opened (Why?).

These icons might seem similar to the ‘Wingdings’ or symbol fonts we’ve had for years.  However, these new icons have a lot more options.  You can change the size, color, outline color, rotate and transform icons in ways not possible with a font symbol.

The icons are ‘vector based’ meaning you can manipulate them in many ways without loss of image quality.


The selection pane has categories on left or you can simply scroll through the right-hand list. There is no Search option to find an icon by name (each icon has a name, though it’s hidden from view).

You can choose more than one icon to insert which is nice.  We hope the publicly released feature changes the current ‘black icons with black selection tick and dark blue box’ look.  It’s hard to see which icons are selected and which are not.

There are three icons selected in the above example (one on each line) but you’re forgiven for not seeing them.  The black tick also obscures what icon you’ve selected.  Surely the UI gurus at Microsoft could design something better than this?

The selection dialog is fully ‘modal’ across the program meaning you must close the box to edit any other document.  Modal dialogs are annoying at the best of times but unforgivable in a new Office feature.

Changing the look

The icon can be changed once inserted. Click on an icon to see the Graphics ribbon.

With these tools you can change the color, outline and overall look of an icon.

For more detail on what you can do with an Office icon, see our article on SVG graphics.

Yes, all these icons are SVG graphics which gives them a lot of flexibility.  You’re not stuck with the plain black images from the original list.


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