Quick Tip: Sketching in MS Word
One of my favorite programs to use when I’m in a time crunch and need to produce a simple graphic or flow-chart is, surprisingly, Microsoft Word. Implementing a few options within the program can create a sketchpad-like interface in place of the standard “word processor.”
This Quick Tip is based on Microsoft Word 2007, so if your office hasn’t upgraded yet, I’m sure you have bigger problems to worry about.
There are 3 easy steps that need to be followed before you are ready to sketch away.
Adjust the Margins, Format the Page Layout
For most presentations, landscape with minimal margins is best. To quickly set your paper up for sketching, adjust the following options:
- Click Print Layout, and then Margins – selecting Narrow.
- Within the same menu, click Orientation – selecting Landscape.
It is important to show the gridlines on the document. When the gridlines are visible, it is easy to place objects on the screen and re-size them to the desired shape. By default, MS Word has “Snap to Grid” turned on. This aligns all objects to the grid pattern when inserting them into the document and can be turned off by changing the Grid Settings.
- Click View, and then check the Gridlines box.
- The gridline spacing is adjustable by clicking Page Layout, and then Align – selecting Grid Settings.
At this point, the page layout is setup and the gridlines are visible. You can now add any of the shapes MS Word provides.
- Click Insert, and then select the Shapes menu which will drop down a list of options.
That’s it! 3 easy steps and you can quickly create flowcharts or quick sketches using MS Word. There are plenty of programs out there that can do the same thing. But you may not have access or completely understand these programs. If you stick to this tutorial for the simple things, you should save yourself a lot of time.
Also remember the best part about using MS Word is the printing. Programs like Excel or Visio can sometimes create major difficulties with formatting/printing, and this is usually after you’ve spent hours working. Good luck out there.