by Allen Wyatt
(last updated February 5, 2021)
When Des writes paper notes, she often puts squares around certain letters or numbers and circles around others. This is her own "code" that allows her to key in on information she needs to pay attention to. Des can relatively easily put squares around letters or numbers in a Word document (using borders), but she hasn't found a way to add circles.
There are actually a few ways you can go about this. One way, of course, is to use the graphics capabilities built into Word to create a shape (a circle) that can be placed around any letters or numbers you desire. A quick way to do this is to customize the Quick Access Toolbar so it includes the Oval tool. (How you customize the QAT has been covered in other WordTips. The Oval tool is found by listing All Commands during the configuration process.)
Once the Oval tool is in place, click on it and you can then use the mouse pointer to draw the circle. Just hold down the Shift key as you click and drag, and you are guaranteed of a perfect circle. Of course, the circle is filled in with a color, but all you need to do is use the Fill tool (on the Format tab, visible immediately after drawing the circle) to choose No Fill. You can even right-click the circle and choose Set As Default. This assures that the next use of the Oval tool results in a no-fill shape. (You'll still need to hold down Shift, however, to ensure you create a circle.)
The benefit to this approach is that you can make the circle any size you want and any color you want. The drawback is that it adds graphic shapes to your document—they can sometimes be difficult to position and they increase the size of your document file.
Another approach is to "enclose" your characters. This is achieved through a different command you can add to the Quick Access Toolbar. When configuring, again display All Commands and look for one named Enclose Character. When you've added it to the QAT, use it by selecting some text (either one or two characters, no more) and then clicking the tool. You then see the Enclose Character dialog box displayed. (See Figure 1.)
Figure 1. The Enclose Character dialog box.
Here you can select how you want the text affected (shrunk or enlarged) and what type of shape you want to use to enclose the text (circle, square, triangle, etc.). When you click on OK, the text is adjusted through the use of an EQ field. You'll need to play with this approach a bit to determine if it works just the way you want.
A third way you can tackle this problem is to use a font that already has characters enclosed within circles. This is actually built into Word 2007, Word 2010, and Word 2013. Follow these steps:
Figure 2. The Symbol dialog box.
The drawback to this approach is that it works only for the numbers 1 through 20 and for single letters (uppercase or lowercase). These steps also won't work in Word 2016 because—for some inexplicable reason—Microsoft removed the Arial Unicode MS font, and it seems that none of the installed fonts has the Enclosed Alphanumerics subset included. You could, of course, search the Web for a downloadable font that would include circled characters.
WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (13436) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016.
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