In an earlier article I discussed using the built-in library of SmartArt graphic organizers in Microsoft Office 2007 applications. As you try the different images however, you’ll soon want to make changes to them, frankly, because they get a little boring after awhile, and they may also not fully meet your needs. So let’s take a look at ways to spice up your SmartArt graphics.
I’ve opened up Microsoft Word and want to create a target for a game I plan to play with my students later in the week. So instead of creating my own target, I decide to see if any existing targets are available by clicking the Insert tab and then clicking the SmartArt button in the Illustrations section of the toolbar. In the Choose a SmartArt Graphic window, I click the Relationship option on the left, because I suspect a target just might be contained in that grouping. Sure enough, there is a target graphic available in the list of objects named Basic Target. (See Figure 1) After selecting the target and clicking the OK button, the graphic is inserted into my document. If you’re following along In Word as you read, you must admit it looks kind of plain don’t you think?
Now, when working with objects in Microsoft Word, or most any application in fact, you must select the object before you can apply changes to the object. In my case, I’ve inserted the Basic Target object, which is really a collection of other objects that make a single object. In reality, they only appear to make a single object however. We’ll talk more on this later though. For now, make sure the entire object (target) is selected. You should see a border around the object if it is. If not, click on the target once and you should see the border. Now that the target is selected I want to change its color, so I click the Design tab. In the SmartArt Styles section I click the Change Colors button which displays a scrollable list of color styles. I choose the right most option in the “Colorful” row (second row), called “Colorful Range – Accent Colors 5 to 6,” because I really want to dazzle the students and make it more difficult for them to hit the target.
Now I’ve got a colorful target, but it still lacks depth and realism. Notice the icons to the right of the Change Color object on the Design toolbar in the SmartArt Styles section. If you hover the mouse cursor over the current selected icon, you’ll see it says “Simple Fill”. Move to the right though, and click the last button labeled “Intense Effect”. Our target now has some depth. Now let’s see what else we can do. Immediately to the right of the “Intense Effect” button is a small down arrow button with a line above it, the “More” button. When I click the “More” button, I get 3 rows of effect options I can apply to my target. That’s a lot of modifying we can do. Shiny is good, so I clicked the “Polished” effect button to apply the effect. I’m starting to like the way my target looks now.
Final modifications to my target graphic will be to remove the text boxes and lines that point to the rings. Why? I don’t really need them, I just need a target. Well, to remove the text boxes and lines, we’ve got to work with individual objects that form a part of the SmartArt graphic. You’ve likely been wondering, why I’ve left them there all this time. Actually, it was just convenient to leave them there up to this point, but now we must deal with them. Removing the lines is not difficult really. The trick is placing the cursor over the line until the cursor becomes a four headed arrow with the pointer, which indicates you can click to select or drag to Move. So I click the line with the left mouse button to select it. You can tell an object is selected when you can see the size handles for the object, that is, either small white circles (corners) or small black/white squares (sides). On a line object, there are only two size handles, one at each end. Most objects will have eight size handles, one in each corner and one in the middle of each side. Once the object is selected, I press the Delete key on the keyboard to remove it. After doing that for each line, only the text boxes are left.
Text boxes are a bit trickier to delete. Because they can accept text and are editable, if you click a text box where the default text is, the text box will switch into “edit” mode. The text box is selected, but only in the sense that it’s showing you the size handles in the event you wish to resize the box to accommodate text. But if you press the Delete key on your keyboard, the text box remains, because it’s in edit mode, therefore pressing the Delete key would delete text to the right of the Insertion Point (the flashing vertical bar in the text box). While the Insertion Point is flashing in the text box, I place the mouse cursor over the border of the text box and left-click once. The text box is now truly selected as an object and pressing the Delete key removes it. After removing the other two text boxes, I only need to resize my target to make it larger and then print it off on my color printer and tape it to the white board for the game.
By all means, take some time to work with SmartArt. The more you work with graphics images, the better you become at modifying them. Remember, that each SmartArt image is composed of multiple objects, each of which can be deleted or modified independently to help you create a graphic organizer that meets your needs.