MS-Excel / Excel 2003

Using text boxes as callouts

Text boxes are graphics that combine text with a rectangular graphic object. (The only other object that does this are the callouts that you insert from the AutoShapes Callout pop-up menu.) They're great for calling attention to significant trends or special features in the charts that you create.

To create a text box, click the Text Box button on the Drawing toolbar and then drag the mouse pointer to draw the outline of the box. When you release the mouse button, Excel places the insertion point in the upper-left corner of the box.

You can then start typing the text that you want displayed in the text box. When the text that you type reaches the right edge of the text box, Excel automatically starts a new line. If you reach the end of the text box and keep typing, Excel scrolls the text up, and you then have to resize the text box to display all the text that you've entered. If you want to break a line before it reaches the right edge of the text box, press the Enter key. When you finish entering the text, click anywhere on the screen outside of the text box to deselect it.

Although text boxes are similar to cell comments with text-within-a-box display, they differ from comments in that text boxes are not attached to particular cells and are always displayed in the worksheet. (Comments show only when you position the mouse pointer over the cell or select the comment with the Reviewing toolbar.)

Text boxes differ somewhat from other graphic objects that you add to the worksheet. Unlike the other Excel graphic objects, when you select a text box, it displays sizing handles but no rotation handle (because Excel can't display text at just any angle you may select). Also, unlike other graphic objects, text boxes display two different border patterns when you select them:

  • A single crosshatched pattern is displayed when you click inside the text box, thus enabling you to format and edit the text.
  • A double crosshatched pattern (that just looks like a bunch of fuzzy dots on my monitor) is displayed when you click the border of the text box or start dragging the box to reposition it, thus indicating that you can format and edit the box itself.
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