Word 2010: Step-by-step SmartArt

February 16, 2011

One of the graphics features that Microsoft really worked on in Word 2007 was SmartArt. It’s been further expanded in Word 2010.

In this mini-tutorial, I’ll show you how to create an image like that below, using Word’s SmartArt. All the images I used came with Windows, and are in the Documents > Sample Pictures folder.

Insert the SmartArt object

  1. Open a new Word 2010 document or go to an empty paragraph in an existing Word 2010 document. (You can do much of this in Word 2007 too, but the available shapes are more limited, and some of the steps may be slightly different.)
  2. Go to the Insert tab, then click the SmartArt button.
  3. On the Choose a SmartArt Graphic window, click Picture on the left, then select Accented Picture — the first one in that group. Note: Even though you choose one of the SmartArt shapes here, your selection isn’t set in stone — you can change it to another shape later.
  4. Click OK. The SmartArt object is added to your document.

Add images and text

  1. In this example, we don’t want any text for the main image (the flowers), so click away from the large text box into the blue rectangular area. The ‘handles’ should be around the rectangle.
  2. Click the image icon in the middle of the large rectangle to open the Insert Picture window.
  3. Navigate to the image you want, select it, then click Insert. I used the Garden image in the Sample Pictures folder.  We’ll get rid of the text later.
  4. Now click on one of the circles, then click the image icon in the middle of it and select an image. Repeat for the other two images.
  5. After adding your images, your SmartArt object should look something like this:
  6. Next, you’ll add text for the images. There are several ways you can do this — you can do one object at a time by clicking [Text] and adding your own words, or you can use the Text Pane window to add them all at once (either click the Text Pane button on the toolbar, or click the blue left/right arrows on the middle left of the SmartArt object’s ‘canvas’).
  7. In this example, I’ve added the words Whales, Turtles and Toucans for each small image. And I entered a space instead of text for the large flower image. Be careful — if you delete the text box for the large image, the image gets deleted too.

Add color and effects

While you may be satisfied with the result so far, there are more things you can do with your SmartArt object.

Some effects that I suggest you experiment with include these on the SmartArt Tools ribbon > Design tab:

  • SmartArt Styles group: Hover over the thumbnail options to see how different effects will look.
  • Layouts group: Hover over the thumbnail options to change the layout of the objects.
  • Right to Left button in the Create Graphic group: Switches the small  images in the circles on the right to the left side of the large image. Click again to go back.
  • Add Shape button in the Create Graphic group: Adds an extra circle to the default set of three. Keep clicking to add even more. To delete a circle, select its text box, then press the Delete key on your keyboard.

On the SmartArt Tools ribbon > Format tab, try these:

  • Shape Fill: Changes the background color of the SmartArt object; in my original example, I used an olive green fill and this is where I applied it.
  • WordArt Styles group: Allows you to change the style of the font, its outline and inner color, and add text effects; in my original example, I added a reflection effect and made the outline and inner sections of the letters the same color.

To change the font size for all text on the SmartArt object, select the entire object, then go to the Home tab and select a font size and font family as you normally would for body text in your document. To change the font size for just one text object, select just that text object and change the font size and family as normal.

Have fun!

A word of warning: If you use the SmartArt objects that are available in Word 2007 and Word 2010 documents, they are very unlikely to be backwards compatible with Word 2003. So if any of your readers, authors etc. are going to open your fancy Word 2010 document in Word 2003, it’s likely all your SmartArt will revert to plain text.


  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Sophia R. Matheson, Perth Web News. Perth Web News said: RT CyberText Consulting: Word 2010: Step-by-step SmartArt http://goo.gl/fb/ErsN8 […]

  2. […] newsletter/blog of CyberText Consulting – technical communication specialists « Word 2010: Step-by-step SmartArt Word 2010: Differences with Word 2007 February 17, […]

  3. So i had to delete something in a smart object and word wouldnt let me… so i google it.. and this blog comes up at #2 option!


  4. LOL! Thanks Sarah! (For other readers, Sarah and I used to work together for a while — she was in Queensland and I was in Western Australia, but we worked on the same team)

  5. you cannot convert a bulleted list in Word into a Smartart object like you can in PowerPoint?? Is that right?


  6. Referred here through an online course. Very helpful! Thank you for the tutorial.

  7. Thanks Jennifer. Do you recall which online course?


  8. There is no smart art button on my insert tab! Where is my button?

  9. Hi Julianna

    There are two reasons I can think of as to why you don’t have this button. Either:
    * you’re not using Word for Windows 2010 or later (I don’t have a Mac so can’t speak about Word for Mac functionality)
    * the Insert tab has been removed from your ribbon (you can’t remove the SmartArt button as it’s part of the Insert tab by default, but the Insert tab may have been turned off). In Word 2010, go to File > Options > Customize Ribbon, and check that ‘Insert’ is checked in the right panels’ column.

    If neither of these is the case, contact Microsoft.


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