SmartArt in Excel: All Things You Need to Know

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Drawing shapes and adding text boxes is tiring and time-consuming. SmartArt in Excel is a feature introduced by Microsoft that has a set of pre-defined layouts facilitating shapes and texts. Therefore, adding text boxes and shapes manually is no longer necessary.

In this Excel tutorial, you will learn all the features of SmartArt graphic(s) in Excel and how to insert, modify or remove them in an easy way.

From highlighting financial highlights to creating reports one of the most common things is visual illustration of concepts. Therefore shapes and Textboxes are inevitable to make presentation visually appealing. SmartArt facilitates us by providing pre-defined shapes and layouts. These are ready-made layouts as well as easy to use.

Assume, OS Industries Ltd manufactures Men’s Shirt and sells in Texas, California, and New Mexico. From Raw Materials to Customer. we are showing the supply chain of Men’s Shirt items with SmartArt in Excel.

An overview image of SmartArt in ExcelThroughout the Excel tutorial, you will learn:

  • Purposes, Benefits, and Applications of SmartArt
  • Addition SmartArt and Use of Text Pane
  • Formatting of SmartArt
  • Different types of SmartArts
  • Advanced Applications of SmartArt
Note: Microsoft introduced SmartArt Graphic in Excel 2007. However, there are so many dissimilarities to the newer versions such as Picture type SmartArt Graphic is absent in Excel 2007. Since we are using Microsoft Office 365 while preparing the tutorial, there might be some layout unavailability issues if you’re using an old version of MS Excel.

What Is SmartArt Graphic in Excel?
How to Insert SmartArt Graphic and Add Text to It
 ⏵How to Use Text Pane for SmartArt Graphic
How to Format SmartArt Graphics in Excel
 ⏵1. Add or Delete Shapes in Excel SmartArt Graphic
 ⏵2. Get Your Text to Fit the Way You Want
 ⏵3. Use Multiple Shapes Together (group, align)
 ⏵4. Change the Color of SmartArt Graphic in Excel
 ⏵5. Apply Styles to SmartArt Graphic
 ⏵6. Change the Size, Rotation and Curve of SmartArt Graphic
 ⏵7. Move Shapes in Excel SmartArt Graphic
What Are Different Types of SmartArt Graphic Available in Excel & How to Use Them?
 ⏵i) List SmartArt Graphic
 ⏵ii) Process SmartArt Graphic
 ⏵iii) Cycle SmartArt Graphic
 ⏵iv) Hierarchy SmartArt Graphic
 ⏵v) Relationship SmartArt Graphic
 ⏵vi) Matrix SmartArt Graphic
 ⏵vii) Pyramid SmartArt Graphic
 ⏵viii) Picture SmartArt Graphic
What Are the Advanced Applications of SmartArt Graphic in Excel?
 ⏵How to Use SmartArt To Present Financial Highlights
What Are the Benefits of Using Excel SmartArt Graphic?
Best Practices of SmartArt Graphic in Excel

What Is SmartArt Graphic in Excel?

SmartArt is a unique feature introduced by Microsoft. Besides MS Excel, it is available in MS Word, PowerPoint, etc as well. The feature facilitates a professional look by creating diagrams, charts, layouts, or any other visual elements. SmartArt has a set of ready-made layouts that allow you customization with your own text, shapes, and images. It is beneficial as well as useful for highlighting trends and patterns; In addition, it helps in creating slideshows, reports, and other complementary presentations.

How to Insert SmartArt Graphic and Add Text to It

By Selecting the SmartArt command from the Illustration group, you can simply add the SmartArt graphic or layout to present your idea.

  • To get the SmartArt command go to Insert => Illustrations => SmartArt.

Select SmartArt command in Excel

  • Then, select as follows: All => Vertical Process => OK.

Select Vertical Process SmartArt

  • Therefore Vertical Process SmartArt Graphic appears. Now we’ll write Raw Materials in the first shape.

Inserted Vertical Process SmartArt

Note: Despite the existence of three shapes by default, you can insert or remove shapes from SmartArt using Text Pane.
  • Similarly, edit Suppliers and Manufacturer in the 2nd and 3rd shapes.
  • As a result, we’re representing the idea of how raw materials are sent to the Manufacturer.

Final outcome of vertical process SmartArt

How to Use Text Pane for SmartArt Graphic

You can also re-write or edit the title of SmartArt shapes with Text Pane in Excel. Not only editing text but also adding or removing shapes can be done via Text Pane.

  • By clicking the Arrow button in the Vertical Process SmartArt, we get the Text Pane.

Select the arrow to get Text Pane

As you can see in the following image, Text Pane updates automatically based on the texts of shapes.

Use the Text Pane in Excel

How to Format SmartArt Graphics in Excel

In this section, you will learn how to format SmartArt Graphics in Excel. Since Vertical Process generates three shapes in a SmartArt by default, the formatting should be necessary after inserting shapes. We will discuss:

  • Adding or removing shapes
  • Text fitting in shapes
  • Using multiple shapes together
  • Changing shape color
  • Applying styles of shape
  • Changing shape size, rotation
  • Moving the shapes

1. Add or Delete Shapes in Excel SmartArt Graphic

Adding or removing the shapes in SmartArt is one of the most frequent tasks in Excel for professionals. Since our intention is to make the process of how supply chain of a product takes place (from Raw Material to Customer), we need to show Distributor, Retailer and Customer shapes in the Vertical Process.

  • So, add “Distributor”, “Retailer” and “Customer” in the Text Pane of Vertical Process SmartArt.
  • Therefore, new shapes will be inserted automatically.

Adding data and inserting new shapes in SmartArt in Excel

Please check out the below GIF for details:

Adding data and inserting new shapes in SmartArt in Excel

2. Get Your Text to Fit the Way You Want

Sometimes, texts are unable to fit in the shapes. If you look closely, 1st and 5th shapes are examples of those unfitted shape texts. So, we must use a Text Box instead of shape text.

Unfitted text in the SmartArt shapes

First, we erase the shape text of 1st and 5th shapes.erase text from SmartArt shapes

To insert the Text Box shape, select as follows: Insert => Illustrations => Shapes => Text Box.

Inserting the Text Box in Excel

Now re-write the text in the Text Box and place it over the SmartArt shape.

Note: The Shape Outline and Shape Fill options of the Text box should be selected as No Fill and No Outline respectively during the application.

Fitting the Text Box over the SmartArt shapes

3. Use Multiple Shapes Together (group, align)

In some cases, you may need to ungroup or disalign them for your smooth operation. However, you need to group and change alignment again for using multiple shapes in a SmartArt together.

  • Initially select all the shapes by pressing Ctrl and Left-Clicking one by one.
  • Then go to Shape Format => Arrange => Align drop-down => Align Center.
Note: Don’t forget to press the Ctrl key while selecting shapes one by one with the Mouse.

Selecting Center Alignment

  • If the shapes are ungrouped, go to Shape Format => Arrange => Group drop-down => Group.
  • Thus we obtain the center-aligned and grouped SmartArt in Excel.

Grouping shapes with the Group command in Excel

4. Change the Color of SmartArt Graphic in Excel

Changing the color of shapes enhances the appearance of the SmartArt in Excel. We have SmartArt shapes having by default color. Now we are likely to transform them into Purple color.

So, select as follows: Format => Shape Fill => Purple (color box).

Selection of Purple color as Shape FillThus, we get purple-colored shapes.

Purple-colored shapes in SmartArt

5. Apply Styles to SmartArt Graphic

We can also change the shapes of SmartArt from the Shape Style group. There are some pre-defined templates for shapes. Now we will convert the Purple-colored shapes to Blue, Accent 5.

  • To select the Blue, Accent 5 color, click sequentially: Format => Shape Styles => Color Fill-Blue, Accent 5.

Applying Styles to SmartArt graphic in Excel

  • As a result, all of the shapes’ fill color is converted into Blue, Accent 5 color.

Blue, Accent 5 color is applied to the shapes

6. Change the Size, Rotation and Curve of SmartArt Graphic

To make SmartArt visually appealing and distinct, changing size and rotation can be an excellent choice. In this section, we will change the rectangle: rounded corner shapes of SmartArt into Oval shapes in Excel.

  • First, select all the rectangular shapes by pressing the Ctrl key and selecting one by one.
  • To select the Oval shape, click as follows: Format => Change Shape => Oval (Icon).

Selecting the Oval shape for SmartArt in Excel

  • Thus we convert all the Rectangular shapes into Oval shapes.
  • Further, click on the Rotate command and drag to rotate.

Rotating the shapes of SmartArt

  • Therefore, we rotate the oval-shaped SmartArt.

Rotated the oval-shaped SmartArt graphic

7. Move Shapes in Excel SmartArt Graphic

Assuming, there is a mistake in the workflow where the Customer is placed before the Retailer. On the contrary, it should be the “Retailer” before the “Customer” in the process. So, we have to move the shapes in the SmartArt.

  • First, select the shape named Customer.
  • Next, click as follows: SmartArt Design => Move Down.

Moving the shapes in SmartArt with the Move Down command

  • Therefore we get the correct sequence: Raw Materials > Suppliers > Manufacturer > Distributor > Retailer > Customer.

Moved the shape of SmartArt in Excel

What Are Different Types of SmartArt Graphic Available in Excel & How to Use Them?

In this segment, we will discuss the different types of available SmartArt graphics in Excel. Every SmartArt graphic type has a specific purpose. For instance, to display the workflow you must use Process SmartArt. On the other hand, Hierarchy SmartArt is appropriate for organization hierarchy.

There are 8 different types of SmartArt graphics in Excel. They are:

  • List SmartArt
  • Process SmartArt
  • Cycle SmartArt
  • Hierarchy SmartArt
  • Relationship SmartArt
  • Matrix SmartArt
  • Pyramid SmartArt
  • Picture SmartArt

i) List SmartArt Graphic

The List SmartArt type is useful for basic sequence or hierarchical lists. Let’s consider, the OS Industries Ltd. manufactures men’s shirts and we will create a flow chart of the supply chain management with details.

  • Now, Select as follows: List => Vertical Bracket List => OK.

Selecting Vertical Bracket List SmartArt in Excel

  • Next, click the Arrow button in the Vertical Bracket List SmartArt, and get the Text Pane.
  • After that, edit texts.

Getting Text Pane and editing it

  • Input all the necessary data.

Inputting data in the Text Pane

  • Therefore, we’ll see the supply chain management with the Vertical Bracket List.

Showing flow with the Vertical Bracket List SmartArt

ii) Process SmartArt Graphic

The Process SmartArt Graphic explains a series of steps, workflow, or stages. With two examples we are going to discuss the use of Process SmartArt briefly.

  • Workflow Chart
  • Timeline Chart

How to Create Workflow Chart with Process Map Chart

The workflow chart shows one-by-one steps to complete a task. For example, we will show what are the supply chain approaches by creating workflow one by one.

  • Select as follows: Process => Step Down Process => OK.

Selecting Step Down Process SmartArt in Excel

  • Thus we’ll see the supply chain of a Men’s shirt by inputting necessary information in the Step Down Process.

Showing workflow with Step Down Process SmartArt

How to Develop Timeline with Process Map Chart

The Timeline Chart is a type of process SmartArt that shows the timeline of each segment. Now we will create a timeline with dates in Excel to illustrate the time frame when each part is completed.

  • Select as follows: Process => Basic Timeline => OK.

Selecting Basic Timeline Process SmartArt in Excel

  • The supply chain of a Men’s shirt with a timeline is now visble as shown in the picture below.

Generating Timeline Process SmartArt

iii) Cycle SmartArt Graphic

The Cycle SmartArt represents the procedure where repetition takes place. It cycles back to the beginning. For example, we will show you the stages of the business cycle or product life cycle by applying Cycle SmartArt Graphic in Excel.

  • Select as follows: Cycle => Segmented Cycle => OK.

Selecting Segmented Cycle SmartArt in Excel

  • Therefore, we represent the business cycle such as Development, Growth, Maturity, and Decline with Cycle SmartArt.

Representing the business cycle with Cycle SmartArt

iv) Hierarchy SmartArt Graphic

The Hierarchy SmartArt graphic explains the relationship in a hierarchical structure. It is the dedicated SmartArt to create hierarchy in Excel including organizational charts.

How to Make Organizational Charts with Hierarchy SmartArt Graphic Type

Hierarchy SmartArt facilitates of creating the Organizational charts in Excel. For instance, we will show you the use of a Horizontal organization Chart to present the top management of OS Industries Ltd.

  • Select as follows: Hierarchy => Horizontal Organization Chart => OK.

Selecting Horizontal Organization Chart SmartArt in Excel

  • Now we’re representing the company’s hierarchy with a Horizontal Organization Chart.

explaining hierarchy with a Horizontal organization Chart

Read More: Hierarchy in Excel

v) Relationship SmartArt Graphic

The Relationship SmartArt displays relationships and connections among entities or elements. For instance, the Total Population is 331 Million in the USA, and 162 Million are men. But the Male population in Texas, California, and New Mexico is 37 Million which is the potential target customer of OS Industries Ltd. We will represent the information with a Basic Target Relationship SmartArt.

  • Select as follows: Relationship => Basic Target => OK.

Selecting Basic Target Relationship SmartArt in Excel

  • Therefore, you can represent the overall relationship idea with a Basic Target SmartArt in Excel.

showing overall relationship idea with a Basic Target SmartArt

How to Create Venn Diagram with Relation SmartArt Graphic

The Venn diagram is a type of Relationship SmartArt graphic in Excel. It depicts logical relationships between different elements, entities, and sets. In a business, Marketing, strategy, and product are interconnected elements that work together to be successful. We will make a Basic Venn diagram in Excel to represent the relationship among them.

  • First, select as follows: Relationship => Basic Venn => OK.

Selecting Basic Venn Relationship SmartArt in Excel

  • We’ll draw the relationship of “Marketing”, “Product”, and “Strategy” with a Venn Relationship SmartArt.

Showing Venn Relationship SmartArt

Note: The Venn Relationship SmartArt doesn’t facilitate us typing in the intersection. So must add Text Boxes to type any additional information.

Creating Venn Diagram in Excel

vi) Matrix SmartArt Graphic

The Matrix SmartArt explains relationships between components in a grid or matrix format. Suppose, OS Industries Ltd. is set to launch a new product. So, we have to work with the new product considering the Ansoff Growth Matrix. In this section, we will show you the use of Grid Matrix SmartArt graphics in Excel.

  • Select as follows: Matrix => Grid Matrix => OK.

Selecting Grid Matrix SmartArt in Excel

  • Therefore, we developed the Ansoff Growth Matrix.

Grid Matrix SmartArt layout

  • By adding additional information, we’ve given the Ansoff Growth Matrix a professional look.

Developed Ansoff Growth Matrix with Grid Matrix SmartArt

Note: You can’t add more than 4 shapes in a Grid Matrix.

vii) Pyramid SmartArt Graphic

The Pyramid SmartArt graphic represents proportional or hierarchical relationships with a pyramid shape in Excel. In this section, we will show the company hierarchical employee structure of OS Industries Ltd using Basic Pyramid SmartArt.

  • Select as follows: Pyramid => Basic Pyramid => OK.

Selecting Basic Pyramid SmartArt in Excel

  • So, we’ve generated the hierarchical employee structure using Pyramid SmartArt in Excel as shown below.

Hierarchical employee structure using Pyramid SmartArt

viii) Picture SmartArt Graphic

The Picture SmartArt allows you to insert pictures into SmartArt shapes in Excel. Likewise, we are going to show you the approaches of how Customer gets product from Manufacturer with Radical Picture List SmartArt.

  • First get the SmartArt command by clicking: Insert => Illustrations => SmartArt.
  • Then select as follows: Picture => Radical Picture List => OK.
  • Next edit the text from the Text Pane.
  • After that, Insert images from the local drive.

Using Radical Picture List SmartArt in Excel

Note: Radical Picture List SmartArt doesn’t allow more than 4 images.

What Are the Advanced Applications of SmartArt Graphic in Excel?

Advanced applications of SmartArt graphics in Excel employ its features to develop sophisticated, dynamic, and visually appealing representations of information. Some advanced uses of SmartArt:

  • Financial highlights
  • Advanced Manufacturing Process
  • Cross-functional activities
  • Collaboration and accessibility
  • Project Management
  • Dynamic Data Visualization and so on.

How to Use SmartArt To Present Financial Highlights

Now we have financial data of OS Industries Ltd from January-2023 to July-2023. So, We are planning to display the financial highlights with a SmartArt graphic.

Sample data for presenting financial highlights

We figure out the “Gross Profit”, “Net Operating Income”, “Net Other Income” and “Net Income”.

Calculating Gross Profit, Net Operating Income, Net Other Income and Net Income

Now, we will add the SmartArt graphic to highlight the financial conditions based on Net Income.

  • So, go to Insert => Illustrations => SmartArt.
  • Thus Choose a SmartArt Graphic dialog box appears.
  • Again, select as follows: List => Vertical Arrow List => OK.

Selecting Vertical Arrow List SmartArt in Excel

  • Adding and editing the Vertical Arrow List, we showcase the financial highlights.

Presenting the financial highlights with SmartArt

What Are the Benefits of Using Excel SmartArt Graphic?

Some advantages of using SmartArt graphics in Excel are as follows:

  1. Visual Representation: To present your gigantic information in an organized and structured manner SmartArt can be an excellent option. It illustrates the process, workflow, relationship, and hierarchies in an efficient way.
  2. Effective Communication: Graphic illustrations enhance readability to convey messages than plain text.
  3. Fluent Storytelling: SmartArt graphic illustrates the whole idea with a step-by-step process, making it comprehensible for the user.
  4. Professional Look: A professional and polished appearance to your Excel worksheet is visually appealing.
  5. Focus on Key Points: By highlighting trends and patterns, you can draw attention to key points. It will help your audience focus on the most important information.
  6. Consistency Across Documents: You can create a connective and recognizable visual identity for your data when you use consistent SmartArt Styles.
  7. Customization Options: SmartArt allows you customization in colors, styles, and layouts which gives you flexibility in matching your document.
  8. Time Saver: Creating shapes and adding texts manually is monotonous. SmartArt provides a ready-made layout that saves your precious time.

Best Practices of SmartArt Graphic in Excel

There are some considerations you must keep in mind while using SmartArt in Excel.

  1. Make It Simple: At first, you must avoid clutter and excessive information in one SmartArt Graphic. Rather, breaking a complex idea into smaller parts can be meaningful and easy to navigate for users.
  2. Selection of Relevent SmartArt: All the SmartArts may not be suitable for your ideas and opinions. So selection of a relevant SmartArt layout is crucial to delivering your messages effectively.
  3. Use of Consistent Formatting: Make sure that the formatting is consistent in terms of adding titles, font size, style, alignment, distribution, grouping, ungrouping elements, and so on.
  4. Application of Appropriate Color: Choose colors considering your audience and the type of presentation. For Instance, Red color highlights risk whereas Green represents possibility or strength.
  5. Addition of Appropriate Images: Suitable Images are like adding value to your presentation. Appropriate and relevant images can be effective in developing a story. Besides, it maintains a positive flow in your story.
  6. Consistency Across Worksheets: Users get confused when they figure out different layouts on every page. Similar layout and color selection create fluent readability.

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Throughout the content, we explained the addition, removal, formatting, and application of SmartArt in Excel. You can add or remove shapes using the Text Pane. Formatting of SmartArt shapes can be done using the Shape Format tab. List and Process SmartArt can be used to create workflow or sequence. On the Other hand, Hierarchy and Pyramid SmartArt allow you to create an organizational hierarchy. Relationship and Matrix SmartArts represent the relationship among elements. Cycle SmartArt dictates the repetition. Last of all, Picture SmartArt allows you to insert images.

Don’t forget to leave your insights, queries, as well as suggestions in the comment box.

SmartArt in Excel: Knowledge Hub

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MD Tanvir Rahman
MD Tanvir Rahman

MD Tanvir Rahman, BUET graduate in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering, dedicated over a year to the ExcelDemy project. He is an Excel and VBA Content Developer. Having authored 50+ insightful articles, he actively updates and improves over 80 articles, reflecting his commitment to accuracy and currency, managing day-to-day operations, and analyzing and developing Excel and VBA tutorials. His broad interests encompass Data Analysis, Advanced Excel, VBA Macro, Excel Templates, Excel Automation, and Excel Power Query, showcasing a... Read Full Bio

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