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How to Draw a Shape on a Microsoft Excel Spreadsheet


You can draw on your spreadsheet. You can even put a picture on a spreadsheet. Sometimes a drawing can help to illustrate the data or function on the spreadsheet. The drawing in the spreadsheet below is illustrating what the function does:

We'll see how to draw and format the triangle shape now. (Don't worry about all that Cosine stuff. But we'll give you the formula, just in case you want to duplicate the spreadsheet exactly.)

Before you can draw shapes on your spreadsheet, you need to display the Drawing Toolbar. To display the Drawing Toolbar, do this:

  • From the Excel menu bar, click on View
  • From the drop down menu, select Toolbars
  • From the sub menu that appears, click on Drawing

The Drawing Toolbar should appear, but it might be at the bottom. It looks like this:

The Drawing toolbar

Click on AutoShapes to see the kind of shapes you can add to Excel. To get the triangle, do this:

  • Click on AutoShapes from the Drawing Toolbar
  • A menu pops up
  • Move your mouse up to Basic Shapes
  • A box of shapes appears:


  • Click on Right Triangle, as in the image above
  • Move your mouse on to the spreadsheet. The mouse pointer will now be in the shape of a thin cross
  • Hold down your left mouse button
  • Keep the left mouse button held down and drag
  • Let go of the mouse button when you're happy with the size of your triangle
  • You spreadsheet will look something like this one:

What your triangle should look like

The white squares around the shape are the sizing handles. To resize your triangle, move your mouse over a white square. The pointer will change to the shape of a double-headed arrow. Hold down the left mouse button and drag. To move the triangle somewhere else, move your mouse pointer somewhere in the middle of the shape. When your mouse pointer turns into a arrow-headed cross, hold down the left mouse button and drag the shape somewhere else.

Our triangle is facing the wrong way. To turn it round, do this:

  • Click on the triangle with the right mouse button
  • A menu appears
  • Click on “Format AutoShape”, but click with the left mouse
  • A dialogue box appears
  • Select the Size tab strip
  • Click inside the Rotation textbox and change it to 270 degrees
  • Click OK

To add some colour to your shape, again Right click on the shape and select Format AutoShape. This time, select the Colours and Lines tab strip. Click the down arrow of the "Fill Color" box. Choose a colour for your shape.

To add the letter B to your triangle, you need to add a text box on top of it. So, locate the Text Box tool on the Drawing Toolbar. Click on it with your left mouse button. Position your mouse at the bottom of your triangle. Hold down the left mouse button and drag out a text box. Your spreadsheet will look something like this one:

Click inside the text box and type the letter B. Now click on one of the edges of the text box, somewhere near a white square. But click with your Right mouse button. A menu will pop up. When the "Format Text Box" dialogue box appears, select the Colours and Lines tab strip. Under "Line Color" set it to No Line, as in the image below:

Format the Text Box

In the "Fill Color" box, set it to No Fill. Then click the OK button. Your final shape will then look like this:

If you want to add the Cosine formula to the spreadsheet, it was this:


Cell E4 will then be the input cell for the Hypotenuse, and cell E5 will be the input cell for the Adjacent.


In the final part, you'll see how to insert an image into a spreadsheet.

Inserting images into Excel -->

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