Changing Word's Text Box Gallery to suit you

The Word Text Box Gallery gives you a head start on nice document effects.

Under the Insert tab in Word is the Text Box gallery, a selection of pre-set options to jazz up your document.

It’s the easy way to put in fancy design elements you see in books and magazines like side-bars or ‘pull quotes’ with special borders and backgrounds.

We’ve seen people ignoring the gallery because the Built-In options don’t have the style they are looking for. That’s a shame because the gallery is really a helper that you can edit to your needs rather than a fixed, final work.

Page position and overall look

The main thing to look for in the Text Box Gallery is the page position and overall design.

The colors, borders etc can all be changed once you have the Text Box on the page.

Once you have a Text Box on the page from the gallery you can change any of the elements. So all you need to do is choose one of Microsoft’s supplied boxes and go from there.

Don’t worry too much about the colors, it’s the position on the page that’s the most important thing when choosing from the gallery. You can change the position of a gallery item but it’s easier if you select the one closest to your needs from the start.

For example, we’ve selected the Alphabet Sidebar which places itself on the left down the entire page.

Text Box - Alphabet sidebar on the page.jpg image from Changing the Text Box Gallery to suit you. at

A closer look shows the sample text is in a strange box with a handle on top left. This is a content control and you don’t have to worry about it. Click in the box and start typing – the content control will disappear.

Text Box - Alphabet sidebar on the page - close up.jpg image from Changing the Text Box Gallery to suit you. at

The brown bar at the top and bottom are simple paragraph borders on the top and bottom lines of the text box.

Text Box - Alphabet sidebar - Borders and Shading.jpg image from Changing the Text Box Gallery to suit you. at

This is separate from the text box border controlled in the Drawing Tools | Format tab. This is also where you can change the box background color and other effects including text direction.

Text Box - Alphabet sidebar - much changed.jpg image from Changing the Text Box Gallery to suit you. at

This is a much-revised version of the Alphabet Sidebar just to give an example of how a gallery item can be changed radically from the starting point Microsoft provides. We changed the text direction, font size, the top and bottom borders then resized the Text Box and positioned it part way down the left side.

Not really a ‘text’ box

Despite the name, a Text Box can contain non-text items.

For example, insert a picture in the same way you would in the main document. Click in the text box then Insert | Picture (or chart, shape etc) as usual.

In short, make use of the Text Box gallery but don’t consider it design gospel from Redmond. Use it as a shortcut for your own work.

Give it a try, play around and yes, make mistakes. Undo (Ctrl + Z) bwill let you recover from unwanted changes.

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