Renaming, Reordering, and Grouping Shapes in Excel 2007 and 2010
How to group, ungroup, rename and reorder Excel Shapes in Excel 2007 and Excel 2010
Shapes allow you to add visual impact to your worksheets and enable you to grab or direct the attention of a user of your spreadsheet using shapes such as red arrows.
- You can use shapes with hyper links linked to other parts of your workbook to allow users to navigate around it using buttons.
- In addition, shapes can have macros assigned to them so that they will run Visual Basic code when they are pressed.
In today’s article, we will be looking at:
- Renaming shapes is often necessary as Excel will name your shapes for you with names such as Rectangle 1 or Right Arrow 7 which are not very informative and can make identification tricky.
- Reordering them as shapes are ordered in the order they were created, not alphabetically which can make manipulating them using Visual Basic tricky, as my example today will illustrate
- Adding shapes to groups so that they can be manipulated as one group which allows you to manipulate a number of shapes quickly and easily which can make working with shapes much quicker and easier.
Renaming Shapes in Excel 2007 and Excel 2010
To allow you to more easily identify shapes and also to make writing Visual Basic code to manipulate those shapes you may need to rename them. There are two ways of renaming shapes:
First, you can select a shape in your workbook. The name of that shape appears in the box to the left of the formula bar as shown in the picture below (you can see my shape is called Montana):
To change the name, simply rename it here and click Enter or Return to confirm it
The second method is to use the Selection Pane:
- To access the Selection Pane, first, select a shape
- Navigate to the Drawing Tools group of tabs and select the Format tab
- In the Arrange group on that tab, select the Selection Pane button
- This will open the pane to show you all the shapes on the active sheet
From here, you can rename any of the shapes, by clicking on the name and then making any changes that you many need to make
Note: The list of shapes is not an alphabetic list, shapes are listed in the order they were created and will not resort themselves automatically.
Re-ordering Shapes in Excel 2007 and Excel 2010
When you rename shapes in Excel, they remain in the order that they were created, so this may make it difficult to use the shapes in a Visual Basic script.
My Thematic Chart uses Visual Basic that takes data from an external website and changes the fill colour of the shape representing each state based on the data provided. The data provided lists the states in alphabetical order. If the shapes are not also in alphabetical order then the thematic chart will not accurately represent the data. You can see from the figure above that the states are not alphabetical and therefore the resulting chart is not accurate.
To re-order shapes, we need to use the Selection Pane so that we can see the current order.
- Next, we select a shape that we want to re-order
- To move the shape, right click on the shape on the worksheet itself
The two options you will need to use to move the shape, is Bring to Front and Send to Back
How to move a shape to a new place in the order in Excel 2007 and Excel 2010.
First Menu Option
Second Menu Option
Bring to Front
Bring to Front
Shape is moved to the very top of the list
Shape is moved one place higher
Send to Back
Send to Back
Shape sent to the very bottom of the list
Shape moves one place lower
Note: By holding down Control and selecting multiple shapes, you can move more than one shape at a time.
Now you can see from the figure below, that my shapes are now ordered in reverse alphabetical order which now means that the states are listed in the same order as my data.
Now when I run my Visual Basic macro, I get a thematic chart that is consistent with the data provided from the external source.
How to group and ungroup shapes in Excel 2007 and Excel 2010
When you group shapes, this allows you to make changes or select multiple shapes at one time. Grouped shapes can also be moved as a group and they will retain their positions relative to each other. There is two ways of grouping shapes:
- Select all the shapes you want to place in the group
- Right click and select Group and then group
Note: if these shapes were part of a previous group, there will also be an option to regroup.
Note: you can rename the group in exactly the same way you rename a shape
The second method is to select all the shapes as before
- Select the Format tab which is part of Drawing Tools. Click the Group button which is in the Arrange group
- To ungroup a group of shapes, repeat the above steps but select Ungroup rather than Group.
You can see a group that I have created below called Group 12. I can now select the group as a whole and configure the properties of all shapes in the group, or I can move the whole group as a whole by selecting it.
Note: Should you want to change a single shape within the group, select the group and then click on an individual shape to change its individual properties.
Shapes are very versatile and extremely useful devices for giving your spreadsheets more visual impact and allowing users to navigate around your workbook using hyper-links or to run code by pressing buttons.
In today’s article, we looked at renaming and reordering shapes which is often necessary if you intend to write Visual Basic code to manipulate your shapes. Finally, we looked at grouping and un-grouping shapes to allow you to manipulate or move large numbers of shapes quickly and easily.
Many thanks for reading; I hope you found this article useful and informative. Please feel free to leave any comments that you may have below.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2013 Robbie C Wilson