Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021. If you are using an earlier version (Word 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Word, click here: Rotating a Drawing Object.

Rotating a Drawing Object

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated November 26, 2022)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021


Word allows you to create drawing objects in your document. These objects (such as an oval, rectangle, line, etc.) are positioned on what is termed the "drawing layer," which is separate and distinct from the text that appears in a document. You generally create such objects by using the Shapes tool on the Insert tab of the ribbon.

You can rotate a drawing object to any degree you desire. Simply follow these steps:

  1. Select the drawing object. You will see a series of handles and controls appear around the object.
  2. Position the mouse pointer over the green dot connected to the object. This is the rotation control, and the mouse pointer should change to a small circular arrow. (Note that in 2013 and later versions there is no green dot, it always appears as a small circular arrow
  3. Click on the rotation control and drag the object in the direction desired.
  4. Press Esc when you are done rotating the object, or click somewhere else in your document.

If you know exactly how much you want to rotate the drawing object, you can also do the following:

  1. Right-click on the drawing object. This displays a Context menu.
  2. Choose Format AutoShape (Word 2007) or More Layout Options (Word 2010 and later versions) from the Context menu. This displays the Format AutoShape dialog box in Word 2007 or the Layout dialog box in Word 2010 and later versions.
  3. Make sure the Size tab is selected. (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The Size tab of the Layout dialog box.

  5. Change the value in the Rotation box as desired.
  6. Click on OK.

You should note that Word allows you to insert text within a drawing object. Rotating the shape, however, does not result in the text within the shape being rotated. Instead, you can only change the orientation of the text within the shape, as described in other WordTips.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (1271) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Rotating a Drawing Object.

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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