Smarten up your SmartArt

So you’ve added SmartArt to your Word document because you know how effective a graphic can be in catching your readers’ attention.  But, have you taken the next step of formatting your SmartArt so that it looks the best it possibly can?

There are a number of quick and easy ways to change the overall look and feel of your SmartArt, all easily accessible via the SmartArt Design contextual tab – remember, you must select your SmartArt graphic for the SmartArt contextual tabs to appear.

Here are a few to get you started:

  • Right to Left: looking at your SmartArt, you decide the information would read better if it flowed in the other direction. So flip it!  A click of a button is all it takes – you’ll find the Right to Left button within the Create Graphic group.
  • Layouts: did you start off with a particular layout but then think your content might be better accommodated by another?  Scroll through and select a new layout via the Layouts gallery.  If you can’t find one that suits your needs, click on the More Layouts option.  This will take you back to the original dialogue box you were presented with when initially creating your SmartArt graphic.
  • SmartArt Styles: SmartArt graphics are inserted using Accent 1 as the default however you may find the colour doesn’t work within your current document. Scan the Change Colors gallery to find what works best for you, not only in terms of the colour you use but also its transparency.  Similarly, use the SmartArt Quick Styles gallery to change the style of your graphic; there are a number of options, including 3D.  Again, work within the confines of your document for the best results.

Now if you only wish to change a single component of your graphic say, for instance, because you’d like that component to be the focal point of your SmartArt, you can achieve this via the SmartArt Format contextual tab.  Here are a couple of examples of what can be done:

  • Shape Styles: to highlight a specific component of your graphic, try changing the style of that component via the Shape Quick Styles gallery.  Alternatively, if you’d prefer more control over your changes, make individual changes via the Shape Fill, Shape Outline, and Shape Effects options.
  • WordArt Styles: where you’d like the most important text within your graphic to stand out, work with the options within the WordArt Styles group.  Just like Shape Styles, you can use the WordArt Quick Styles gallery to make your change, or drill down further by using the Text Fill, Text Outline and Text Effects options.

To make the same changes to more than one component, select each of the components while holding down the Ctrl key; make changes as required.

I’m sure you’ll find all of the above are really easy ways to smarten up your SmartArt graphic.  So be sure to try them out next time you use SmartArt.