Text Boxes in Microsoft Word

A beginner's guide to text boxes

Word document
Screenshot/Microsoft Word

Although you can open a new Microsoft Word file and start typing without worrying about text boxes, you can be more productive and create documents with more flexibility if you use them.

Text boxes are important elements in Microsoft Word documents. They give you control over the position of a block of text in your document. You can place text boxes anywhere in the document and format them with shading and borders.

Additionally, you can link text boxes so that the contents flow between the boxes automatically.

Inserting a Text Box

Inserting a Text Box in Word
James Marshall

Open a new, blank Microsoft Word document. Then:

  1. Click Insert > Text Box to insert a text box on the screen.
  2. Drag your cursor on the screen to draw the box.
  3. Click and drag the text box with your mouse to where you want it on the page.
  4. The text box appears with a thin border and gives you "handles" to use to resize or reposition the text box. Click on the corners or any of the handles on the sides to resize the text box. You can fine-tune the size at any time as you work in the document.
  5. Click the rotate icon at the top of the box to rotate the text.
  6. Click in the box to enter text and start typing. The contents of the text box can be formatted like other text in your document. You can apply character and paragraph formatting, and you can use styles.

You can’t use some formatting in text boxes, such as columns, page breaks, and drop caps. Text boxes can’t contain tables of contents, comments, or footnotes.

Changing the Border of a Text Box

Changing the Border of a Text Box
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To add or change the border of the text box, click on the text box. Then:

  1. Change the border by clicking the Line button on the Drawing toolbar.
  2. Select a color from the chart or click More Line Colors for more choices. You can change the border style with the Patterned Lines button.
  3. Right-click on the box to bring up the Colors and Lines tab, where you can change the background color and adjust the transparency. It also allows you to specify border style, color, and weight.

Note: In recent versions of Word, select the text box, click the Format tab and use the controls at the left side of the ribbon to add a border, change color, add a fill to the background, adjust the transparency and apply effects to the text box. In Office 365, click Format > Borders and Shading > Borders to reach this section of the ribbon. You can also change the size here.

Setting the Margins for Your Text Box

Setting the Margins for Your Text Box
James Marshall

On the Text Box tab, you can specify internal margins. This is where you turn word wrapping on and off or automatically resize the box to fit the text.

Changing Text Wrapping Options for a Text Box

Changing Text Wrapping Options for a Text Box
James Marshall

To change the text wrapping options for a text box, change the text wrapping options of the drawing canvas. Right-click on the border of the drawing canvas. Select Format Drawing Canvas.

The Layout tab provides you with a variety of options for changing the layout of a text box. For example, you can have the text wrap around the text box, or you can insert the text box inline with the document text.

Select how you want the text box to appear. For advanced options, such as setting the amount of space around the picture, click Advanced.

Once you’ve specified your options, click OK.