Learn tips and tricks for using the software more effectively. Join Visio MVP Scott Helmers as he demonstrates both good and bad techniques for adding text to a diagram. You’ll learn about single-line and multiple-line shape text entries, how to move the text on a shape, as well as about shapes whose text block is locked.
- [Narrator] Most Visio shapes can display text. The text you see on a shape can reflect the contents of a data field stored in the shape or elsewhere, but in many diagrams, the display text is just text that's been typed onto the shape. To add text to most shapes, you simply select the shape and start typing. In addition, as you'll see in a moment, you can control where the text appears in relation to the shape. Let's start by looking at a diagram created from the basic shapes template. I'm going to select the rectangle by clicking it and type.
When I'm finished, I can click anywhere outside the shape and exit text edit mode. When I select the square, I'm going to use a different technique. I'm going to press F2 to begin entering text and type Line 1. Based on the way that various other programs work, some people expect that pressing the enter key will take them out of text edit mode, but it doesn't. In Visio, pressing the enter key allows you to enter additional text on a new line. I could click outside the shape or press F2 again to leave text edit mode.
If you happen to have Visio 2013 or later and would really like the enter key to leave edit mode, there's a setting for that. If you click File > Options, on the Advanced page, there's a setting that says Pressing ENTER commits shape text. I'm not going to make this change, but if you do, you can then use Shift + Plus + Enter to start a new line whenever you're entering text. The final method of editing shape text is to double-click a shape, which I'll do on the triangle.
Once again, F2 or escape to leave edit mode; however, that won't work on every shape, because shape designers can use the double-click action for other purposes. If double-click doesn't work on a particular shape, you can probably revert to either F2 or just typing. As a final note about adding text to a shape, you will find some shapes that are locked entirely to prohibit text entry. You can't tell by looking at it but that's the case for the circle on the screen. If I select the shape and start typing, Visio tells me that I can't.
Let's shift now to another common text related problem. What do you do if you want text on a shape but don't want it in the default location? The answer is, there's a tool for that. On the home tab, in the tools group, is the text block tool. I should point out that this symbol that represents the text block tool is different in Visio 2010 and 2013 than what you're looking at with Visio 2016 at the moment, but it's in the same location within the tools group on the home tab.
Now that I've activated that tool and select a shape, what I've actually selected is the text block for the shape, not the shape itself. In this particular case, it looks exactly the same, but if I now grab the edge and drag it, you'll notice I'm moving the text off the shape. In this case, there's white text on a white background, which we'll need to fix in a moment, but first, while we're still editing the text block, realize that I can change the size, so it's not just a matter of moving it. I can relocate and resize and manipulate the text block all by itself.
Notice that the text block tool is persistent. When you're finished with it, you have to manually change back to the pointer tool. Type Control + 1 or click Pointer Tool up on the toolbar. Now that the shape is still selected but we're no longer in text edit mode, I can continue to make changes to the shape itself, including changing the text color. So let's do that, and we can see that, going back to the text block tool, my text is now black. I can put it wherever I'd like in relation to the shape. But the important thing is, it's still part of the shape.
If I move the shape, that text goes with it. Let's take a moment to look at a set of shapes in which the default location of the text blocks is not in the center of the shape. We're zoomed in to a portion of a network diagram. I'm going to select this router and type edge router. That text is part of the shape. If I move the router, the text goes with it. I could use the text block tool if I want to move the location of the text, but some shape designers, like those who created these network shapes, have made the job even easier.
Notice the yellow square on top of the text. If I drag that yellow square, I can move the text to whatever location I'd like. In this particular case, the shape designer's locked it to vertical motion. If I drag the handle over to the side, the handle moves, but the text itself does not. If what I really want to do is move that text off to the side, well, I can always revert to using the text block tool and move it wherever I'd like. Finally, if none of the techniques in this video provide what you want, you can always add a text box to the pane.
There's a text tool in the tools group on the home tab, or if you're using Visio 2013 or 2016, you can right-click anywhere on the page, and on the mini-toolbar is a text tool. This is a one-time use tool, so I'm going to draw this text box next to this firewall and I will type firewall to label the shape. Looks good, except for the fact that that text block is a completely independent shape.
If I move the router or I move the text box, they are completely not related to each other. One of the biggest mistakes I see in Visio diagrams is the last thing I demonstrated: adding a text box near a shape instead of adding text to the shape. Editing and maintaining a diagram with lots of independent text boxes can be a real nightmare. There may be times when you need to add a text box to the page; for example, to add a title to the page, but it's best to remember that the best practice for labeling shapes in a Visio diagram is to add text to the shape itself.
If you do that but don't like where the text is located, you can always use the text box tool to reposition it wherever you'd like.
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- Decoding Visio versions and editions
- Setting Visio options
- Navigating like a pro
- Taking advantage of hyperlinks
- Managing text on shapes
- Annotating diagrams with comments and callouts
- Inserting text display fields
- Working more efficiently
- Mastering Visio keyboard shortcuts
- Aligning and sizing shapes on a page
- Managing connectors and connection points
- Copying, pasting, and duplicating shapes