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The Microsoft Office Suite (Office 2007 and later) comes with pre-designed graphics and diagrams called SmartArt.  This tool can be used in place of bulleted lists to add an interesting visual element to documents and presentations. The graphics are organized in categories such as List, Process, Cycle and Hierarchy.  They are useful for displaying relationships between objects, presenting sequential steps in a process, showing organizational hierarchy, and displaying blocks of information.

To insert SmartArt into a document, spreadsheet or PowerPoint presentation:

  1.  Click the Insert tab and select the SmartArt button.  A dialog box opens.  The panel on the left of the dialog box displays the categories, the center panel displays the options in the selected category, and the panel on the right displays a description of the selected graphic

  2. Select a graphic and click OK.  The graphics appears in the document.  Two additional command tabs, the Tool Design and Tool Format tabs, appear on the ribbon.  (Note:  These additional tabs will only appear when the SmartArt graphic is selected.)

  3. To add text to a graphic, click a shape and begin typing or click the Text Pane button in the Tools Design tab.

The SmartArt Tools tabs include commands to help you format and customize your SmartArt graphic.  Tools are organized into Design commands and Format commands.

Tools Design tab: This tab includes commands to add additional shapes (ie: bullet points) to an existing graphic, promote or demote a shape into points and sub points, change the SmartArt layout, or change the graphic color and style.

Tools Format tab:  This tab includes commands to change individual shape styles within the graphic, apply pre-designed shape styles with special effects (bevel, glow, shadow, and gradient) or change the color of shapes in the graphic.

Special note for PowerPoint users: What if you have an existing presentation?  Can you transform EXISTING bullet points into SmartArt?  Absolutely!  In PowerPoint, select the bullet points that you want to convert. Click the Home tab and select the “Convert to SmartArt” button located in the Paragraph group.  Choose a graphic from the drop-down menu or select More SmartArt Graphics for additional options.

This tool is a great way to add an interesting visual element to documents, spreadsheets and presentations.

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