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What is a SmartShape?

What is a Smart Shape?

SmartShapes are graphical objects that have their own special handles that can be clicked or dragged on to customize the object. To see and use the handles on a SmartShape, select the object and go into the QuickShape Tool. 

Find SmartShapes throughout the Content Catalogue and under the Insert menu. For example choose "Insert" > "Shape" from the main menu to choose from a selection of simple SmartShapes. Or with the QuickShape tool selected, click on the Insert button on the InfoBar. If you select...

  • Rectangle
  • Ellipse
  • Text Panel
  • Photo Panel
  • Speech Bubble

Then the shape will be placed directly into your document. The other options will open the Online Content Catalogue, where a wider range of shapes are available. Choose a shape and simply import it into your document by double clicking or clicking the Import button.

Editing Smartshapes

SmartShapes come with pre-defined handles which allow you to edit the shapes in an easy and intuitive way. It's simple to tweak or curve an arrow, or to edit a speech bubble using the handles, just to give a couple of examples. The handles appear when you double-click on the shape to go into the QuickShape tool - and if you hover over a handle then a pop-up tip gives you a handy function description.

This is a simple Text Panel SmartShape. The blue circular handles on the sides allow you to stretch the panel to be any size. The top right corner handle will rotate the whole object. The bottom right will enlarge or reduce the size of the whole SmartShape.

Each SmartShape has its own set of control handles. Hold the mouse-pointer over any handle to get a tool-tip hint of the function of each. The Status Line (bottom of window) also provide some description of the function of each handle. In this example the top left orange handle adjusts the rounded corner of the panel background (and most rectangular SmartShapes have a similar function). The inset handle at the top right, in this case, adjusts the margin around the text.

Where SmartShapes contain text, you can edit the text - change its size and font, etc. just as for any other text, using the text tool.

There are many different SmartShapes and you’ll see more appearing in the Content Catalogue over time.

Chart Smartshapes

With the chart SmartShapes - see "INSERT" > "CHARTS…" You can just edit the values and labels on the charts using the Text Tool and the graphics update accordingly.

As with all SmartShapes, double-click to go into the quickshape tool and you will see the SmartShape handles appear. Move the mouse pointer over each handle for a tip on what each does. On the bar and column charts there are handles for adjusting the bar width, chart width/height, the spaces between the bars, the roundness of the bar corners and of course for adding/removing bars. Each bar also has a handle for changing its position in the chart and a handle for changing its value by dragging, as an alternative to editing the values using the text tool.

Customising Bar & Column Charts

You can change the colors of charts easily just by selecting the whole chart and clicking a color on the colour line. The replace colours dialog appears to let you choose which of the colors in the chart you would like to replace with your chosen color. Similarly you can use the colour editor to edit the colors - the list of replacable colors appears at the top of the color editor, so select the color you want to edit from that list.

Sometimes you may need to do more than just replace or edit the existing colors in the chart. You can select a specific bar or column by Ctrl + clicking on it in the selector tool. That selects just that bar/column inside the chart. Then you can change its color directly, or its outline, or even change the type of its fill using the fill tool. If you want to copy the style of one bar onto the other bars, first copy (Ctrl+C) the selected bar to the clipboard. Then select one of the other bars and use "edit" > "paste" > "paste format/attributes".

Packed Photo Grid

This smartshape lets you display any collection of photos, even those with different shapes and aspect ratios, in a compact grid on your website. So for example you can display a mixture of portrait, landscape and even panorama images together in the grid.

It consists of rows of photos, with any number of photos in each row. The row heights vary depending on the numbers of photos in each row and on their aspect ratios.

See a selection of examples in the "Components" > "Image Resource" > "Photo Grids" folder of the Online Content Catalogue "Insert" > "Image" > "More Image Resources", but you can customise any of the examples to show any number of your own photos. The examples that are based on the Packed Photo Grid smartshape in this folder all have “Smart” in the title.

Adding & Replacing images

To replace an image with your own photo, just drag and drop a photo file from Windows Explorer (or from the Bitmap Gallery if the photo is already in the current document). The image in the grid that you drop onto is replaced with your photo and the grid automatically updates to fit your photo in, no matter what shape it is. To add more images click the ‘Add photo’ handle on the end of each row, or drag the ‘Add/Remove rows’ handle at the bottom left of the grid to add a complete row.

Note that the more images you add into a row, the shorter that row becomes, especially if the images are wide such as panorama photos. Similarly rows containing just a single image will usually be taller. So distribute your photos around the grid with this in mind, if you want similarly sized photos throughout.


There’s a Border width handle on the top left photo in the grid that lets you adjust the space between each photo. You can have no space at all if you choose, but when you do have a border it’s simply empty space between the photos so you see whatever is behind your photo grid. Therefore if you want to see something other than the page background behind, just draw a rectangle behind and set its color or fill to give the border effect you would like.

Other Photo Grids (Premium)

The "Components" > "Image Resources" > "Photo Grids" folder of the Online Content Catalogue also includes some other new (currently non-smart) photo grids. These are fixed designs, so you can only replace the images and resize these grids.

Choose files or drag and drop files
  1. Robert Turner

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