The mystery of the option ‘Resize shape to fit text’

There are a few issues with the PowerPoint template of Howest that both users and I would like to see resolved. Now they cause confusion and lead to an inconsistent Howest look (and most likely we are not the only one with this issue).

Difficulties arise in two specific situations: when users switch the layout of a slide or use the feature ‘Reset’ in normal view. In both situations pink placeholders with the Slide Master settings ‘resize shape to fit text’ are involved.

The Slide master slides contain instructions for the user.

The first time you enter text in such pink bar (in normal view) the size of the bar corresponds to the length of the text. Settings go into effect as you would expect.

But when you use the feature Reset the pink bars take over the bar size of the Slide Master. Although the setting ‘resize shape to fit text’ is checked, the size of the bars do not longer correspond to the length of the text.

The feature Reset “resets the position, size, and formatting of the slide placeholders to their default settings”. This is taken very literally if you click on Reset.

The same happens when you change the layout of a slide with a pink banner via the feature Layout on the tab Home.

To get this right, you briefly need to check another option (for example ‘Shrink text on overflow’) before checking the option ‘resize shape to fit text’ again.

No wonder that this workaround confuses users…

Based on MS Office 2016

How to round the corners of several rectangles equally?

Aiming for a consistent look, you like to apply the same round corners for the picture as for the text box below. This seems logical, but it’s not so obvious in MS Office…

Both picture and text box are Rounded Rectangles: one with picture fill and the other one used as a text box.

When you select one Rounded Rectangle, a yellow diamond handle appears in the upper left. By dragging this handle, you can adjust the rounding of the corner.

But when both Rounded Rectangles are selected, no yellow diamond handles show up. In other words, it is not possible to round the corners of both shapes simultaneously.

Nevertheless, it is possible to resize several shapes, change the fill and the outline, the shape, the text fill, the position, the text wrapping,… of several shapes simultaneously. So why is it not possible in this case? That’s a shame.

If you want several Rounded Rectangles with the same size, copying one shape with the desired curvature is a good solution.
But when you resize a copied Rounded Rectangle, the radius of the corners does not remain the same. So this is not a solution for the given example, of which the text box is a lot lower than the photo frame.

Is there a way to resize a Rounded Rectangle without the corners changing?

Knowing the exact degree of the rounding would be a great help, as it would enable you to apply the same radius to all round corners, but such indicator does not pop up (cfr. the Adobe suite).

Trying to imitate the same curving by sight seems the only way to get equally rounded corners. It does not take much effort to do this once, but imagine this rounded corners are part of your corporate identity… adjusting each rectangle individually would take up a lot of time. Besides, this working method gives you no control on the exact degree of curve so consistency is virtually impossible.

Feel free to share any insight on this problem or another workaround!

Based on MS Office 2013

How to make coloured headings: PowerPoint versus Word

One of the most striking elements of the corporate identity of Howest University College West Flanders are the pink (magenta) text bars, as you can see in the folder below.

The layout of this folder is made by the communication department in the Adobe suite. But what about MS Office? In other words, how can lecturers of Howest implement this style element in a presentation or in their course material? I tried it out in PowerPoint and Word!

This post seems very much focussed on the branding of Howest, but similar headings are very popular in the world of graphic design. I collected a few examples on Pinterest.

In Word this style element can be introduced as a heading that you can add to the styles gallery if desired. Select the text of your heading and click on Shading on the tab Home. Choose the colour of the shading. (For your convenience you can install the corporate colours as theme colours, so you don’t have to set the RGB values of your corporate colours each and every time.)

Depending on whether you only select the text or the entire paragraph, this is the result:


In PowerPoint this style element can be used as the title of the presentation, to emphasize the central idea of each slide, to present a quote,… But unlike Word the feature Shading is not available for text in PowerPoint (if I am mistaken please correct me!) Also different from Word is that text in PowerPoint is always inserted in a text box or a placeholder (slide master)… So the way to achieve the same look is by colouring this boxes with the function Shape fill on the tab Home or the contextual tab ‘Drawing tools’. Resize shape to fit text ensures that the pink box corresponds to the length of the text (to do so: right click of the mouse on shape, format shape, size and properties, text box).

This is the result in PowerPoint:

If you take a look closer and compare the end result of the two methods, you can notice a tiny difference between the pink bars in Word and the ones in PowerPoint: the headings in Word look more cut off than the text boxes or placeholders in PowerPoint. This is because text boxes or placeholders have a left, right, top and bottom margin of which you can adjust the spacing. This does not seem possible via the feature Shading in Word.


Of course, it is also possible to introduce the pink bars as a text box with margins in Word, but since Word is a word processing program it is more logical to implement this style element as a heading style in the Styles gallery.

Based on MS Office 2013

How to number your heading styles

To set the numbering of your headings, you might think you have to modify the numbering IN the headings of the style gallery on the home tab.

Though styles is not the place to be if you have more than one heading, because then you need to set up a list with different levels, and not just a basic numbered list.

The only way to do this – as far as I know – is by the function ‘Multilevel List’ on the home tab. Select a heading and click on ‘Define new multilevel list…’ in the drop-down menu. Then click on ‘more’. Now you can link each level to a style, or more specifically, to a heading style.
So link level 1 to heading 1, level 2 to heading 2, leaving 3 to heading 3,…

Besides that, you can adjust the Number format.

  • Do not forget to restart each list after the previous heading/level, for example: the numbering of heading 3 has to restart after heading 2.
  • The more levels you have, the larger the text indent has to be so that all the text of the headings is aligned neatly underneath each other, like the first example below.

The headings in the styles gallery should now be numbered but you can turn the numbering on or off by clicking on the function ‘Numbering’ on the home tab.

Based on MS Office 2013

How to implement house style elements in MS Office

Throughout various publications of Howest (which are made in the Adobe suite) texts who require special attention are presented in rectangular balloons.
Copying this balloons in MS Word, I notice this is not as simple as I thought.

Howest callout 2

In MS Office these balloons are called ‘rectangular callouts’. You can insert them by clicking on the insert tab > shapes.
After inserting, you can adapt the tail of the balloon and it is possible to edit the points of the shape as well (to do so: select the callout > tab drawing tools > edit shape > edit points).
To make sure text fits within the balloon, check the option ‘resize shape to fit text’ and if nessecary change the margins.

Once you did all your adjustments, you can save the customized callout to the quick part gallery (to do so: select the callout, insert tab > save selection to quick part gallery > gallery: text boxes, options: insert content only…)
So far, so good. But, when I insert text in the callout, the tail changes along with the length of the text: long texts get a sharp tail, short texts a stomp tail, as you can see in the example below.

ms office callouts


I cannot find a way to keep the shape of the tail consistent. The Format Painter only copies the fill and outline, but not the exact shape of the balloon.
The same goes for setting the balloon as default shape (right mouse click on outline of the shape > set as default shape)

As I mentioned before it is possible to change it manually (one by one), but this is not very precise and very time consuming, especially if you have to format a document with a lot of balloons.
Hence plenty of reasons to pick an alternative “call out”, of course, still respecting the overal look and feel of the house style.

printscreen onthaalbrochure_2

Moral of the story: try to find a workaround!
It is not always possible to implement a house style perfectly in MS Office, as there is not always an efficient workflow available. In that case it is better to compromise and save a lot of time which can be devoted in writing these blogs ;)

Based on MS Office 2013

How to get your favourite image in a shape

My colleague and I used to have a very complex way of inserting an image into a shape. While I was listing all these steps for my new blogpost,  I came to realize that this complex process did not meet the standard MS Office usability. My hunch was confirmed when  I searched for an easy method of working and found one! I’m glad to share this shorter method with you.

Insert a shape (to do so: go to the tab ‘insert’ > ‘shapes’), go to the contextual tab ‘drawing tools’, click on the dropdown menu ‘shape fill’ and choose ‘picture’. Select the picture you like to insert.

picture in shape_1

Now the image is in the shape, but does look stretched or squashed and may not positioned the way you want.

To fix this, there’s just one more small thing to do: select the shape, go to the contextual tab ‘picture tools’, go to the crop function and choose ‘fill‘ in the drop-down menu. Now the dimensions of your picture are respected and you can position the picture as you prefer.

picture in shape_2
Tip: Use the shift key!

Based on MS Office 2013

How to change the font of your document easily

Changing the fonts of a large word file or a PowerPoint presentation with a lot of slides can be either a real pain or a piece of cake. To experience the last, it is necessary to set up your document well from the beginning.

Starting from scratch, this is how it works:
Each theme can have two different fonts: one heading font and one body font. It is prefered to have maximum 2 fonts in this division as a lot of fonts can quickly appear messy, which makes a text more difficult to read.

Go to the tab ‘design’ and click on the drop-down menu ‘fonts’ > ‘customize fonts’, select two fonts you like to use and pick a name for the theme.

Howest fonts

Whether or not you use styles (in MS Word) or slide master (in PowerPoint) make sure you always use this heading or body font troughout the whole document: just by choosing the theme fonts in the dropdrown menu on the home tab (Word or PowerPoint) or by doing the same for each style you use in Word.


Now all text is based on the theme fonts. So if you change the fonts of this theme or choose a complete other theme, all text in your document will change along.

No need to adjust the font of each slide (PowerPoint) or each style (Word) one by one, with a couple clicks of the mouse the job is done!

Based on MS Office 2013