As I mention earlier in this chapter, each worksheet has an invisible drawing layer, which holds charts, maps, pictures, controls (such as buttons and list boxes), and shapes.

Excel enables you to easily draw a wide variety of geometric shapes directly on your worksheet, thanks to buttons on the Drawing toolbar. In addition, you should be aware that you can group objects into a single object, which is easier to size or position.

Several drawing objects are worthy of additional discussion:

♦ AutoShapes: You can insert AutoShapes from the Drawing toolbar. You can choose from a huge assortment of shapes. After a shape is placed on your worksheet, you can modify the shape by selecting it and dragging its handles. In addition, you can apply drop shadows, text, or 3-D effects to the shape. Figure 2-7 shows a few examples.

♦ Text box: The text box provides a way to display text that's independent of row and column boundaries.

♦ Linked picture object: For some reason, the designers of Excel made the linked picture object rather difficult to generate. Copy a range and then choose the Edit' Paste Picture Link command (which appears on the Edit menu only when you press Shift). The Paste Picture Link command is useful for printing a noncontiguous selection of ranges. For example, you can "take pictures" of the ranges and then paste the pictures together in a single area, which can then be printed.

♦ Control placement: Many of the controls used in custom dialog boxes can be placed directly on a worksheet. Doing so can greatly enhance the usability of some worksheets and eliminate the need to create custom dialog boxes.

♦ Diagram object type: Beginning with Excel 2002, you can insert a new object type: Diagrams. Choose Insert ^ Diagram to select one of six diagram types. After the diagram is inserted, you can use the Diagram toolbar to make basic modifications to it.

Figure 2-7: AutoShapes added to a worksheet.

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