Training & Support for your Systems2win templates


Excel Shapes

How to use Excel as a Drawing Tool

to put a lot more pop and sizzle into your Systems2win templates for Visual Work


Table of Contents


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Bookmark = Training

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Training Videos for How to use
Excel as a drawing tool

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The 7 Advantages of Excel Excel training video
as a drawing tool

Types of Drawing Objects Excel training video

How to Select Objects Excel training video

How to use Excel Excel training video
as a drawing tool

Bookmark = Shapes

Working with Shapes

Bookmark = help

How to get Help for any Systems2win shape

RIGHT-click the shape (anywhere there is no text) > Size and Properties > Alt Text

There in the Alt Text, you will find an explanation of what each shape is used for.

Bookmark = FindShapes

Where to find shapes

Studies have proven that our brains read and interpret the meaning of pictures and symbols
much more quickly and accurately than the meaning of words.

This is especially true when instructions are being communicated to people that speak different languages.

AutoShapes (Excel’s standard palette of shapes)

Insert > Shapes

(Excel 2003: Drawing toolbar > AutoShapes)

Systems2win shapes

Systems2win menu > Copy Shapes

Systems2win provides a standard palette of commonly used shapes
that can be quickly copied and pasted into any Excel document —
to make it easy for your people to give your company's documents a consistent and professional look and feel.

And the Systems2win safety and haz mat icons are ideally sized for the Standard Work templates.


Tip: Watch the training video for the To Do List template
for a demonstration of how to copy shapes from the Systems2win palette of shapes.

Bookmark = addShapes

User-defined shapes

Systems2win menu > Copy Shapes

Scroll down to the User-Defined Shapes section — where you can copy (& paste to any Excel document)
your company's own palette of shapes for your unique industry needs
for safety, tools, equipment, hazardous materials, supplies, and anything else
that is communicated better with pictures than words.

User-defined shapes

How to add your own custom shapes

To add custom shapes to any working document

Simply Paste (CTRL+V) any shape that has been copied to your clipboard.

To add custom shapes to your master templates

Paste them to the User-Defined Shapes section of your master shapes.xls file.

The only custom shapes that will be automatically found and transferred to your new templates when you upgrade
are the shapes that you add to this User-Defined Shapes section.

The shapes.xls file is the one that is launched when you select Systems2win menu > Copy Shapes.

In any one session, after shapes.xls has been opened for use, do not go back to Copy Shapes when another image is needed. Instead, bring shapes.xls forward to access and copy another shape from it.

See help for Where to find shapes.

Learn more about the Systems2win Personalization Upgrade Utility, that automatically finds and transfers your most common personalizations to your new templates every time that you upgrade.

To make your custom shapes available

Option 1) Make your custom shapes available using Systems2win menu > Copy Shapes

safety symbols

Examples of icons that can be
purchased separately, and then
used with your Systems2win templates

Add your own favorite icons to the User-Defined Shapes section of the shapes.xls file, located in the \tCI\ folder of your S2winPortal.
The next time synchronization occurs (automatically or manually) the new shapes will be available.

All of your users will then always have access to your shapes when working in ANY Excel document (even non-Systems2win Excel documents),
by simply clicking Systems2win menu > Copy Shapes

and every time you upgrade, your user-defined shapes will be automatically found and transferred to your new templates as part of the Systems2win Personalization Upgrade Utility feature.

You have unlimited space for as many icons as you need. How?

Simply insert rows above the thin gold line to make additional space
in the User-Defined Shapes section of the shapes.xls file.

If your IT Department chose a portal setup choice that supports synchronization, then your shapes.xls file will automatically sync to each user's PC.

If your portal setup choice does not support synchronization,
then you can manually copy from \S2winPortal\tCI\shapes.xls
to overwrite the shapes.xls file in the Systems2win sub-folder
in each user's default templates folder.

Option 2) Provide a link from your Help page to your custom shapes in another document (and yes, you can use both options)

User Icons

In the User-Defined Training section of the Help worksheet of any Systems2win template — provide your users with a link
to the document containing your personalized palette of icons
(which might be the \S2winPortal\tCI\shapes.xls file described above,
or can be any other type of document located anywhere on any of your servers).

Additional tips for adding your own custom shapes

format picture

Ensure that every shape that you add is formatted correctly:

Right-click > Format Picture or Size and Properties

(Excel 2003: Right-click > Format Picture or AutoShape)

  1. Properties should be set to Move and size with cells
    (this enables your shapes to be hidden and unhidden
    when hiding and unhiding rows and columns)
  2. Size > Lock Aspect Ratio should be unchecked
    (this allows shapes to be easily restored to original size if they ever become distorted)
  3. Alt Text should contain your description and/or help for each shape

If you want your icons to be perfectly sized and formatted for the
Standard Work templates, then you will want them to be
no more than 36 pixels wide and 31 pixels tall (.38" x .32")

Bookmark = DrawingToolbar

Where to find Drawing Tools

The Drawing Tools menu tab
appears at the very top of the window
whenever you select any drawing shape.
Click the Drawing Tools menu tab to
display the Drawing Tools ribbon.

Training videoTraining & video:
How to make Office 2007+ easier to use

Picture Tools menu

(Excel 2003 and lower:
View > Toolbars > Drawing)



Tip: Play with Drawing Toolbar
to learn how to align shapes,
rotate, add new shapes,
and more

View Toolbars Drawing

Bookmark = select

How to select a shape

To select an AutoShape, hover your mouse cursor over any part of the AutoShape that contains no text,
until your cursor changes into a four-sided cross-arrows figure (like this Four arrow cursor)

Then either:

  1. Click the left mouse button to select the shape
  2. Right-click to open a pop-up window to format the AutoShape
  3. Right-click and drag to copy or move the shape

If you click in the middle of an AutoShape that contains text

it will assume that you want to edit the text.

You need to click an area of the shape with no text to select the entire shape.

To enter text in a blank AutoShape — right-click > Edit Text.

Bookmark = SelectObjects

How to mass select a group of shapes

Option 1) Hold down the CTRL key as you left-mouse-click multiple objects

(just like you select multiple objects in most other Windows applications.)

Option 2) Toggle the Select Objects arrow "on" and draw a box around the group of shapes

Home tab > Editing group > Find and Select > Select Objects

(Excel 2003: Drawing toolbar > Select Objects arrow)

The Select Objects arrow changes the way your mouse functions — to make it easier to select objects.

Select Objects Arrow

With the Select Objects arrow toggled on:

you can draw a box around a group of shapes, and everything in the box will be selected

To restore normal mouse functions...

either toggle the Select Objects Arrow OFF, or double-click any open space on your worksheet.

Because it is so frequently used...
we HIGHLY recommend adding the Select Objects arrow to your Quick Access Toolbar in Excel 2007+.

Bookmark = copy

How to copy & paste shapes and connectors

  1. Regular copy & paste works 99% of the time:
    Select the object, then CTRL+C to copy and CTRL+V to paste,
    or any other favorite way you have for copying and pasting anything else in any typical Windows application, such as Edit > Copy...
  2. If that doesn't work...
    (for instance, if you use regular copy & paste to try to copy a straight arrow connector, it might paste as a collapsed tiny dot),
    then use this alternate copy method that works 100% of the time:
    RIGHT-click and drag the selected object, then select “copy here” from the menu that pops up when you release your RIGHT mouse after dragging.
Copy here

Bookmark = move

How to move shapes

Select the object, then drag.

Or use the arrow keys on your keyboard to “nudge” selected objects.

Tip: To prevent vertical or horizontal movement, hold down the Shift key while dragging.

Bookmark = resize

How to resize a picture or shape

Right-click the picture or shape...
> Size and Properties > Size tab

(Excel 2003: > Format Picture > Size tab)

To keep the proportional ratio of height and width:

1) In Size tab, check Lock aspect ratio, then enter new value for either height or width.

2) To manually resize, keeping proportional ratio:

for a picture: left-click the image to select it, then left-click and drag the lower right corner of the image — keep holding down the left mouse as you drag to resize the image.

for a shape: left-click the image to select it, hold down the Shift key, then left-click and drag any corner of the image, while holding down the left mouse and Shift key as you drag to resize the image.

To make the picture or shape wider, thinner, shorter or taller:

1) In Size tab, UNCHECK Lock aspect ratio, then enter new value for either height or width, or both.

2) To manually resize, NOT keeping proportional ratio: left-click to select the image, then left-click and drag one of the white circles that appear in the middle of each edge of the shape.


Bookmark = resetPictureSize

How to reset picture size

Many shapes (including Link Icons) are set to move and size with cells. One big advantage is that these shapes are hidden when you hide a row or column, and reappear when the row or column is again unhidden.


To reset the original size of a picture or shape...

the picture or shape...
> Size and Properties > Size tab

then ensure that the checkbox for “Lock aspect ratio
is unchecked
before you click the Reset button.

Format picture

Bookmark = reduce

How to reduce image sizes

To reduce the total megabytes size of your Excel file,
you will want to reduce the size of large images that you paste into Excel.

This is especially useful for the Work Instructions template.

Option 1) Resize the picture

If you don't already own Photoshop or some other image editing software,
you can always use either:

a) Picture Manager that comes with Microsoft Office

(Start > All Programs > Microsoft Office folder >
Microsoft Office Tools folder > Microsoft Office Picture Manager

Open your large image file in Picture Manager, then select Picture > Resize
Then use the panel that appears on the right side of your window to resize your picture.


b) the Paint program that comes free with Microsoft Windows

(Start > All Programs > Accessories > Paint)

Open your large image file in Paint, and select Home tab > Image group > Resize.
Enter the percent (or pixel values) to which you want to shrink the image.

If you want to keep both a large and small size of the image, use File > Save As — and give your smaller image another name.

Option 2) Crop the picture

In Picture Manager, select Picture > Crop,
then pull the dark black corners to select where you want to crop,
then use the panel that appears on the right side of your window to crop your picture.

In MS Paint: Select, then Crop

Although Picture Manager and Paint are better, Excel does have its own Crop feature:

Select an image. The Picture Tools / Format tab appears above your Ribbon menu.
Click on the Picture Tools / Format menu tab and select Crop > Crop.
8 short bold lines ("handles") appear along the image border (at each corner and along each side).
Carefully select any of these (cursor will change to look like handle) and drag to crop the image.

At this point you also may want to compress the image to reduce file size. With the image still selected, choose Picture Tools / Format > Adjust group > Compress Pictures. Enter values in the dialog box.

(Excel 2003: Double-click the image and enter values to crop it. Then select Compress and enter values.)

Option 3) Compress the picture

In Picture Manager, select Picture > Compress Pictures,
then use the panel that appears on the right side of your window to compress your picture.

Or in Excel...

Compress Pictures

Select an image. The Picture Tools / Format menu appears above your Ribbon menu.
Select [Adjust group] > Compress Pictures.
Enter values in the dialog box.

(Excel 2003: Double-click the image > Compress and enter values to compress it.)


Notice that with one click of a button
you can choose to compress only selected pictures,
or All pictures in document!

Training video Training video
How to quickly compress image file sizes (1 min)

Images within grouped shapes will not be compressed.

As great as Excel's Crop and Compress features sound —
the truth is that Excel is not ideal for image editing —
and your primary strategy for reducing image file sizes should be to use image editing software to get those images down to a reasonable file size before you ever paste them into Excel.

Bookmark = editText

How to edit text within a shape

To enter text in a blank AutoShape — right-click > Edit Text.

To edit text that already exists in an AutoShape — simply left-click and start typing.

If this doesn't work, then either:

a) It is a picture, not an AutoShape (and pictures don't support text), or

b) You are using Excel 2000 or lower, and this is a grouped AutoShape.

You need to ungroup it, do your editing, then regroup it.

Bookmark = format

How to format a shape or picture

If you right-click on an AutoShape anywhere there is not text and select Format Shape,
or on a picture and select Format Picture,
then a pop-up window will appear with many window tabs for different formatting options.

If you right-click within the text area of an AutoShape that contains text,
and select Format Shape

then a pop-up window will appear with only one window tab — to format text.

Bookmark = MatchFormat

How to format a shape
to match the formatting of another shape

Format Painter, (Format painter on the Home tab can be used to apply the same formatting to match another AutoShape.

(Office 2003: Standard Toolbar)

Click the shape with the desired formatting, then click the Format Painter button, then click the shape to which you want to apply the formatting.

Or to format a new AutoShape...

Right-click an existing AutoShape that has your desired formatting, and select...

Office 2007+: Set As Default AutoShape

(Office 2003: Set AutoShape Defaults)

Then copy and paste any new AutoShapes from Excel's standard palette, and your new AutoShapes will be formatted to match your AutoShape Defaults.

Bookmark = ChangeToAnotherShape

How to change a shape to another shape

Drawing Tools > Insert Shapes group > Edit Shape > Change Shape

Bookmark = rotate

To rotate a shape

Simply use the green rotate handle.

Tip: You might need to zoom to a higher resolution for the rotate handle to appear.

Tip: If using Excel 2000 or lower, you can rotate AutoShapes, but can't rotate pictures.
Refer to known issues.

rotate shape

Bookmark = bring Forward

How to bring an object forward or backward

Some objects appear in front of other objects. For instance, a shape might be in front of a line, or a line might be in front of a shape.

To bring an object forward or backward, select one or more AutoShapes, then right-click the edge of one of the selected AutoShapes, then select Order, and choose Bring to Front / Bring Forward) or Send to Back / Send Backward).

Bookmark = group

How to group shapes

so that they are treated as a single shape

Select all objects that you want to group together, then right-click and select Group > Group.

To ungroup shapes, right-click the grouped shape, then select Group > Ungroup.

Tip: Whenever you group, ungroup, or regroup, you need to reset Properties if you don’t want the shapes to move and size with cells.
(This is true not only for the grouped or regrouped item — ungrouped shapes also get reset
to move and size with cells!)

Bookmark = name

Excel NameBox

How to Name a shape

Select the shape.

In the Name Box that you will find just to the left of the Formula Bar in all versions of Excel...

type your chosen name
then hit the Enter key on your keyboard.

Key Point: The name won't stick until you hit the Enter key.

Example of a common use of this feature:

To name a grouped shape consisting of a User Help Text Box
and some Link Icons.

Bookmark = Properties

To change the Properties of a shape

to move or size with cells, or to lock or unlock the shape

Right-click > Size and Properties > Properties tab

(Excel 2003: Right-click > Format AutoShape > Properties tab)

Bookmark = SnapToGrid

Snap To Grid

Toggle it on or off...

Drawing Tools > Align > Snap to Grid

(Excel 2003: Drawing Toolbar> Draw > Snap > To Grid)

Snap To Grid Tips

  • Many shapes have been specially designed by Systems2win to fit perfectly within the grid — so that you can instantly resize all shapes in an entire column just by dragging the column width.
  • When using specially-sized snap-to shapes — always nudge the shape just a little to the RIGHT — rather than to the left.
  • It is wise to lay out most of your snap to grid shapes first — before adding connector arrows.

Bookmark = Connectors and attachConnectors

Working with Arrows and Connectors

How to attach connectors to shapes

so that the connectors move with the shape

Tip: Lines and arrows with green and red ends (when selected) are “connectors".
Lines and arrows with white ends do not stay connected to an object
when the object is moved.

On Systems2win templates, the standard palette of shapes will often contain identical-looking connecting and non-connecting lines and arrows.

Excel 2007+: All lines and arrows are now connectors. The white ends turn red when connected.
The legacy non-connector arrows provided in the Systems2win stencil, however, still work as non-connector arrows.

attach connectors

How to:

  1. Copy your chosen connector from the Systems2win palette of shapes.
    Tip: Straight connectors sometimes paste as a tiny dot if you use regular copy & paste. If this happens, use our 100% method to copy.
  2. Drag an end of a Connector to the place where you want it to connect to the AutoShape.
    Tip: You can connect to any of the blue dots that appear when you hover a connector line near an object. Or use a Connector Diamond for special placement.
  3. When the end of the Connector turns red and the AutoShape lights up for a moment — the Connector is now “connected” to the shape.

Bookmark = ConnectorDiamond

Connector Diamond

Connector Diamond

Systems2win menu > Copy AutoShape
includes a tiny Connector Diamond — which is a tiny object that can be used as an anchor point for connecting a connector arrow to an unusual place. (Perhaps you want your connector arrow to terminate in “open space", or to connect to a place on an object other than the blue connectors that are part of every shape.)

Tip: Consider grouping your Connector Diamond with a shape.

Bookmark = elbow

Change a Connector
between straight, elbow, or curved

Right-click the Connector > Connector Type > select your choice.

(Office 2003: Right-click the Connector, and select your choice.)

Bookmark = bendShapes

How to bend shapes

to create curved arrows or freeform circles

Bent shapes

The easiest way to create a curved arrow or line is to use a curved connector (instructions above),
but sometimes you want a shape curved with more precision.


Systems2win menu > Copy Shapes

Right-click a shape that is already formatted the way you want your new shape to be, then select...

Set As Default Line

(Office 2003: Set AutoShape Defaults)

then ...

a) To create a bent arrow or line, select...

Drawing Tools > Curve

(Office 2003: Drawing Toolbar > AutoShapes > Lines > Curve)

Left click to start your line, and for each corner position. Enter to finish.

b) To create a freeform circle, select...

Drawing Tools > Freeform

(Office 2003: Drawing Toolbar > AutoShapes > Lines > Freeform)

Draw your circle
(or easier yet — just copy & paste the pre-formatted circle — and resize it — and maybe change the color)

Bookmark = ViewingAndPrinting

Viewing and Printing

View in Page Break Preview

view page break preview

View > Page Break Preview 



Tip: When viewing in Page Break Preview mode,
(rather than View > Normal),
you can simply drag the thick blue lines to change the Print Area.


Bookmark = ChangeSizeDrawingSpace

How can I change the size of my drawing space?

Systems2win has defined your drawing canvas to automatically print on a single page, and has defined your AutoShapes to scale appropriately... so you can simply hide, unhide, delete, or insert rows and columns.

a) Rather than deleting, it is usually better to hide and unhide rows and columns.

b) To insert rows or columns, use Insert Copied Cells or Shift Down/Right and Copy
(Get out of the novice bad habit of using Insert > Rows)

c) Change row height or column width
(This is rarely your best option)

To resize a drawing in Word or PowerPoint

Word: Drawing Tools > Size

(Word: 2003: Format > Drawing Canvas > Size tab)

Caution: Don't just “pull the corners” of your drawing canvas, or you might be in for some rude surprises.

To resize the drawing space of an Excel Organization Chart

Refer to Org Chart training


File > Print

More printing tips

Don't skip the Initial Training

When you learn one,
you've learned them all

If you ever get stuck in Excel...

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