MS Word

Use Text Boxes for Complex Layouts

The Problem:

This is probably going to sound stupid, but never mind. I've been using Word for seven years now: letters, reports, even laying out a couple of novellas for a friend. I've used tables, pictures, frames, and more wizards than you can shake a staff at. But I've never used a text boxnor have I needed one. So I gotta ask: what are they for?

The Solution:

As you've figured out, text boxes are a fairly specialized item. They're most useful for laying out awkward little bits of text (pull quotes, teasers, jokes, you name it) that require precise placement. With the work you've described, you probably haven't needed themand you won't need them unless you start working with different types of documents.

Should you start creating more complex layouts in Word, such as newsletter or magazine pages that require carefully positioned boxes holding textor should curiosity overcome youhere's how to proceed:

  1. Lay out the rest of your document. The best time to place your text boxes is when the rest of the document is close to its final state.

  2. Choose Insert » Text Box. Word changes the insertion point to a crosshair, and if you're in Normal view, Word changes to Print Layout view so that you can see what you're doing. Click where you want one corner of the text box, and drag in any direction to specify the size and proportions.

    As with most other drawing objects, you can hold down Shift to constrain the text box to a square instead of a rectangle, hold down Ctrl to draw the text box centered on the point you click rather than placing a corner there, and hold down Ctrl+Shift to do both.
  3. To format the text box, right-click its frame, choose Format Text Box, and work in the Format Text Box dialog box.

  4. To format the contents of the text box, select the contents (or part of them) and use standard formatting commands (for example, Format » Font or Format » Paragraph).