The Changing Relationship of WordArt and Text Boxes

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated July 11, 2020)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365


Word has been providing the capabilities to use both text boxes and WordArt for quite some time. At first blush, it may seem that these two features are not really related to each other. Historically, that is the case, primarily because of the way that WordArt was handled. In older, menu versions of Word (up through Word 2003), WordArt was handled as a graphic object, external to Word itself, that could be easily inserted in the document.

Beginning in Word 2007, though, WordArt became more integrated into Word; it was no longer an external graphic object. Instead, it became an object similar to other objects (such as a text box) that was handled internally by Word. You could see this most clearly by looking at the formatting options available for a WordArt object and a text box. Both objects, when selected, displayed a Format tab on the ribbon. If you examined these tabs closely (which might necessitate screen captures so you could see them side-by-side), you'd see that they have the same formatting options. The difference is that WordArt objects started with different formatting defaults than did text boxes.

In Word 2010 and later versions the two objects actually share the same Shape Format tab. You can see this easily if you insert a WordArt object and a text box close to each other in your document. Click one of the objects and make sure the Shape Format tab of the ribbon is displayed. As you click the other object, you should see virtually no difference in the Format tab; they are the same. The only thing different is formatting settings such as size and color.

The benefit of this "merging" of how WordArt and text boxes are formatted within Word is that the two objects are almost interchangeable. You can easily add text within a text box and then format that text using WordArt styles. If you wish to insert a WordArt object that has simple text formatting requirements, you can do it using a text box, then applying the desired additional minor WordArt formatting options, rather than starting with the fancier text options provided by WordArt. This also means that you can apply WordArt text effects (use the Text Effects tool and then choose Transform) to modify the shape of the text in your text boxes.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (13090) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 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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