Rotate a Graphic Using the Keyboard

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated December 14, 2018)

Don knows how to rotate a graphic using the mouse. He wonders, though, if there is a way to rotate a graphic using nothing but the keyboard.

The short answer is "not really." The reason for this is because before you can rotate a graphic you need to select it, and selecting can only be done (as far as I can tell) by using the mouse. If you've just clicked on the graphic to select it, your mouse pointer is already very close to the rotation handle, so you might as well use it to do the rotation.

That being said, after you select the graphic (again, using the mouse) you could use the Alt key, in conjunction with the left and right arrow keys, to rotate the graphic in 15-degree increments in the direction consistent with the arrow key used.

If you want a bit finer control over the rotation, you can follow this convoluted set of steps:

  1. Select the graphic.
  2. Press and release the Alt key. Word displays a set of shortcut indicators next to the ribbon tools.
  3. Press JD to select the Format tab of the ribbon.
  4. Press AY to activate the Rotate tool.
  5. Press R or L to rotate the graphic 90 degrees right or left.
  6. If you prefer, press M to display the options that allow you to specify a rotation angle directly.

You could also set up a keyboard shortcut to directly display the options that appear when you press M. Follow these steps:

  1. Display the Word Options dialog box. (In Word 2007 click the Office button and then click Word Options. In Word 2010 or a later version display the File tab of the ribbon and then click Options.)
  2. At the left side of the dialog box click Customize (Word 2007) or Customize Ribbon (later versions of Word). (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The Customize Ribbon options of the Word Options dialog box.

  4. Click the Customize button, near the bottom of the dialog box. Word displays the Customize Keyboard dialog box. (See Figure 2.)
  5. Figure 2. The Customize Keyboard dialog box.

  6. In the list of Categories, choose All Commands.
  7. In the list of Commands, choose MoreRotationOption.
  8. Place the insertion point in the Press New Shortcut Key box.
  9. Press the shortcut key you want to use, such as Alt+R.
  10. Click Assign.
  11. Close the dialog boxes.

Now, after selecting a graphic, you can jump right to the rotation options by pressing the shortcut key you defined in step 7.

Of course, you could also create a set of macros to do the rotations for you and then assign those macros to a set of keyboard shortcuts. The following consists of four macros, three of which can be used to easily rotate a graphic. The RotateCW1 and RotateCW5 macros rotate a graphic clockwise either 1 or 5 degrees. The RotateCCW5 macro rotates a graphic 5 degrees counterclockwise. All three graphics rely on the RotateShape macro to do the majority of the work.

Sub RotateCW1()
    RotateShape (1)
End Sub
Sub RotateCW5()
    RotateShape (5)
End Sub
Sub RotateCCW5()
    RotateShape (-5)
End Sub
Sub RotateShape(Degrees As Single)
    With Selection
        If .ShapeRange.Count = 0 And .Range.ShapeRange.Count = 0 Then
            MsgBox "No shape selected"
            Exit Sub
        End If
        If .ShapeRange.Count > 0 Then
            .ShapeRange.IncrementRotation Degrees
        Else
            .Range.ShapeRange(1).IncrementRotation Degrees
        End If
    End With
End Sub

Again, assign the RotateCW1, RotateCW5, and RotateCCW5 macros to shortcut keys and you can then directly rotate a selected graphic as desired.

Note:

If you would like to know how to use the macros described on this page (or on any other page on the WordTips sites), I've prepared a special page that includes helpful information. Click here to open that special page in a new browser tab.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (12606) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Office 365.

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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