Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Office 365. 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: Changing Defaults for Text Boxes and Callouts.

Changing Defaults for Text Boxes and Callouts

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated September 7, 2019)

Word allows you to easily add text boxes and callouts to your documents. These can be used for a variety of purposes, and you can format the text box or callout to appear just about any way you desire. Word refers to text boxes and callouts, collectively, as shapes. If you find yourself making a lot of similar changes to shapes, you can set the default values of them in the following manner:

  1. Set up your shape to appear as you desire.
  2. Right-click on the shape. Word displays a Context menu.
  3. Select Set As Default Shape from the Context menu.

Now, the next time you insert a shape, it will retain many of the same default settings that you defined in step 1. It won't retain them all, however. Word remembers things like line weight, line type, and color, but it does not remember things like text attributes within the text box or the direction and length of callout tails.

There are several ways around this problem, however. If you are using the exact same shape multiple times in the same document, simply select the one that is formatted as you want, hold down the Ctrl key, and drag the shape to a new location. By holding down the Ctrl key you inform Word that you want to copy the shape rather than move it.

A more versatile solution is to simply define your shape as a Building Block. Follow these steps:

  1. Set up your shape to appear as you desire.
  2. Select the shape. (Just click on it once.)
  3. Press Alt+F3. Word displays the Create New Building Block dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The Create New Building Block dialog box.

  5. Provide a name for the shape that is representative of the shape's purpose.
  6. Click on OK. The Building Block is now created.

Later, when you want to use the Building Block entry, simply type its name in the document (the name you provided in step 4) where you want to use the Building Block entry, and then press F3. In the case being discussed here, the shape, complete with all formatting settings, is inserted in your document.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (8137) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Office 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Changing Defaults for Text Boxes and Callouts.

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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