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Changing Directions

Monday, November 15th, 2004 by | Filed Under: MS Word

Changing Directions

Have you ever wished that you could change the direction of text? I mean literally have it read in another direction.

Maybe you want to change the look of the documents or maybe you need to maximize the space you have to work with in the horizontal direction. (Change direction, get more space… If only that would work in my living room. Change the direction of the couch to create more space…)

Anyway, you could be working in MS Excel on a table of data that will be printed and you need to rotate some text so it will go up the side of the page. Or possibly you’re working in MS Word and you’ve just inserted an AutoShape, with text, and now you need to rotate the text to fit the shape properly.

Whatever the case, it sure would be nice to know how to change text direction. You just never know when a trick like that will come in handy.

Today let’s begin with text rotation in MS Word.

Changing direction of text is only available for text in callouts, text boxes, AutoShapes or cells in a table. So the first step is to create one of these items (the first three are items from the drawing tools) and get the text into it.

For example, here’s a table in MS Word where all the text is horizontal.


To have the row titles to read vertically, simply click the cell, AutoShape, callout or text box to be changed. (If you need to change multiple cells then highlight all cells to be changed.)

Now either go to the Format menu, Text Direction choice – or – right click and choose Text Direction from the pop up menu.

A text direction window will open allowing you to pick from 3 choices.


You can choose to leave the text horizontal, change it to read from top to bottom or change it to read from bottom to top. Once you make your choice, click OK. The window will close and you should now see your text running in the direction of your choosing.


See the difference?

I tend to use this frequently when I need every little bit of space available between the left and right margins.

It can also be helpful in making the drawing objects more powerful. For example, have you ever tried to make a flier with the little fringe at the bottom where people can pull off a phone number? (I know there are some programs that have templates set up for this exact thing, but what if you only have Word and that’s what you need? What then?)

Well, this trick can do that for you.

Simply create a small text box. Type in the information for the tear-off tabs. Change the direction of the text to your choice. (You may want to change the outline of the text box to be clear so that you don’t have all the little boxes around the information. Use the line menu while the original text box is selected, choosing No Line from the palette.)

Now, while the text box is still selected, use Ctrl + D to duplicate the text box. You can continue to do this and create many duplicate text boxes quickly. Once you have the text boxes, simply line them up across the bottom of the page.

And there you have it—just finish the top of the flyer and you’re on your way.

Next Tuesday we’ll cover the changing of text direction in MS Excel which will be fun since there are a lot more options.

Ugh, I hate cliff-hangers…

~ April

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