Specifying an Order for Drawing Objects in Excel


When working with Excel, it's easy to overlook the order in which objects are drawn on a spreadsheet. However, understanding and specifying the order for drawing objects is crucial for creating visually appealing and organized worksheets. In this blog post, we will explore the importance of object order in Excel and how it affects the visibility and arrangement of elements. We'll also discuss the purpose of specifying an order for drawing objects, and how it can help enhance the overall presentation of your data.

Key Takeaways

  • Understanding and specifying the order for drawing objects in Excel is crucial for creating visually appealing and organized worksheets.
  • The order of drawing objects affects the visibility and arrangement of elements in your worksheet.
  • Customizing the order of drawing objects in Excel allows you to enhance the overall presentation of your data.
  • Excel's default order of drawing objects may have limitations, but you can customize it to suit your needs.
  • Excel provides tools like the Selection Pane and layers to help you specify and rearrange the order of drawing objects.

Understanding Drawing Objects in Excel

Excel is not only a powerful tool for managing data and performing calculations, but it also offers a range of features to enhance the visual appeal and organization of your spreadsheets. One such feature is the ability to insert drawing objects, which can be used to create shapes, diagrams, and illustrations directly within your Excel workbook. Understanding the concept of drawing objects and their various applications can greatly improve your ability to create professional and visually appealing spreadsheets.

Definition of Drawing Objects

Drawing objects in Excel refer to the shapes, images, and other graphic elements that can be added to a worksheet. These objects can be used to illustrate data, create diagrams, or simply add decorative elements to your spreadsheets. Drawing objects can be freely manipulated, resized, and formatted to suit your specific needs, providing a versatile way to enhance the visual representation of your data.

Examples of Drawing Objects in Excel

Excel offers a wide range of drawing objects that can be inserted into your worksheets. Here are some examples:

  • Shapes: Excel provides a variety of pre-defined shapes, such as rectangles, circles, arrows, and stars, which can be easily added to your worksheet. These shapes can be customized with different colors, borders, and effects to create visually appealing illustrations or callouts.
  • Images: You can also insert images into your Excel worksheet, such as company logos, product pictures, or other relevant graphics. Images can be resized, cropped, and formatted to fit within your worksheet and complement your data.
  • Charts: Excel's charting capabilities are well-known, allowing you to create informative and visually appealing charts and graphs. These charts are considered as drawing objects and can be customized to display data in various formats, such as bar charts, pie charts, or line graphs.
  • SmartArt: SmartArt is a powerful feature in Excel that allows you to create professional-looking diagrams and flowcharts. With a few clicks, you can insert SmartArt graphics that represent processes, hierarchies, or relationships, making your data more comprehensible and visually engaging.

How Drawing Objects Enhance Visual Appeal and Organization

The use of drawing objects in Excel can greatly enhance the visual appeal and organization of your spreadsheets. Here's how:

  • Improved readability: Drawing objects can be used to highlight important information or data points, making it easier for users to identify and understand key elements in the worksheet.
  • Visual representation: By adding shapes, images, and charts, you can visually represent data, making it more engaging and memorable for your audience.
  • Organization and structure: Drawing objects can be utilized to create sections, headings, or dividers, improving the overall organization and structure of your spreadsheet. This makes it easier to navigate and locate specific information.
  • Professional touch: Using drawing objects effectively can give your spreadsheets a more polished and professional look. By incorporating visually appealing elements, you can elevate the overall aesthetic of your workbook.

By understanding the concept of drawing objects in Excel and utilizing them effectively, you can transform your spreadsheets from simple data tables to visually engaging and organized documents that leave a lasting impression on your audience.

Default Order vs. Custom Order

Excel's default order of drawing objects

When working with Excel, the default order in which drawing objects are displayed is determined by the order in which they were inserted. The first object inserted will be displayed behind all subsequently inserted objects. This default order may seem convenient at first, as it requires minimal effort on the user's part. However, it may not always produce the desired visual arrangement of objects within a workbook.

Limitations of default order

The default order of drawing objects in Excel can pose certain limitations. For instance:

  • Overlap issues: When multiple objects are inserted in different locations, their default order may result in unwanted overlap. This can make it difficult for users to view and interact with specific objects.
  • Visibility challenges: Objects that are positioned behind others can become less visible or even completely hidden, preventing users from easily accessing or understanding their content.
  • Limited control: Users have limited control over the default order of drawing objects, as it is primarily determined by their insertion sequence rather than their importance or relevance.

Advantages of customizing the order of drawing objects

Customizing the order in which drawing objects are displayed in Excel provides several advantages:

  • Improved visibility: By rearranging the order of objects, users can ensure that important or frequently accessed objects are displayed prominently, making them more visible and easier to interact with.
  • Enhanced organization: Custom ordering allows users to create a logical flow of information within their workbook. Objects can be arranged in a way that presents data in a more coherent and organized manner.
  • Reduced overlap: By manually specifying the order of drawing objects, users can minimize or eliminate overlapping issues. This ensures that each object is clearly visible and distinct from others.

Specify Order Using Excel's Selection Pane

When working with objects in Excel, such as shapes, charts, or pictures, it is essential to properly arrange them to ensure a clear and organized representation of your data. Excel provides various tools for managing the order in which objects are drawn, and one of the most convenient and efficient methods is by using the Selection Pane.

A. Introduction to Excel's Selection Pane

The Selection Pane is a helpful feature in Excel that allows you to view and manage all the objects in your worksheet. It provides an organized list of every object present, making it easier to select and manipulate specific elements, especially when dealing with complex workbooks that contain numerous objects.

B. How to Access the Selection Pane

To access the Selection Pane in Excel:

  • Click on the "Home" tab in the Excel ribbon.
  • In the "Editing" group, click on the "Find & Select" button.
  • From the dropdown menu, choose "Selection Pane."

Alternatively, you can use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + F10 to open the Selection Pane.

C. Rearranging Objects Using the Selection Pane

The Selection Pane not only allows you to view and select objects but also provides an easy way to change their drawing order. Here's how you can rearrange objects using the Selection Pane:

  1. Select the object you want to move by clicking on its name in the Selection Pane. This will also select the object on the worksheet.
  2. Drag and drop the selected object to your desired position in the list. As you move the object up or down, you will notice its corresponding position changing on the worksheet.
  3. Release the mouse button to drop the object at its new position. Excel will automatically update the drawing order based on the changes made in the Selection Pane.

By rearranging objects in the Selection Pane, you can easily control the layering and overlapping of elements in your Excel worksheet, ensuring that the most relevant information is easily visible to your audience.

Specifying Order Using Layers

In Excel, specifying the order in which objects are drawn on a worksheet is essential for creating visually appealing and organized designs. One way to achieve this is by using layers. Understanding the concept of layers, the advantages of using them, and how to rearrange objects using layers can greatly enhance your Excel skills and make your spreadsheets more professional and polished.

A. Understanding the concept of layers in Excel

Layers in Excel refer to the order in which objects, such as shapes, charts, and text boxes, are stacked or overlapped on a worksheet. The default layer order is determined by the time of creation, with newer objects appearing on top of older ones. However, this order can be modified to meet specific design requirements.

B. Advantages of using layers to specify object order

There are several advantages to using layers to specify the order of objects in Excel:

  • Control over object visibility: By rearranging objects using layers, you can control which objects are visible and which ones are hidden behind others. This is particularly useful when dealing with complex layouts or overlapping elements.
  • Improved clarity: Layers allow you to create a sense of hierarchy and organization within your Excel worksheets. By placing important objects on top and less important ones below, you can enhance the overall clarity and readability of your designs.
  • Efficient editing: When objects are stacked in a logical order, it becomes easier to select and edit specific elements. This saves time and effort when making changes to your spreadsheet.

C. How to rearrange objects using layers

Excel provides simple tools and techniques to rearrange objects using layers:

  • Bring Forward/Send Backward: The Bring Forward and Send Backward options allow you to change the layer order of selected objects. By right-clicking on an object and choosing either of these options from the context menu, you can bring the selected object forward or send it backward in the layer stack.
  • Bring to Front/Send to Back: The Bring to Front and Send to Back options are similar to Bring Forward and Send Backward, but they place the selected object at the very top or bottom of the layer stack, respectively.
  • Reorder Objects Window: Excel provides a handy Reorder Objects window that displays a list of all objects on the worksheet. This window allows you to easily rearrange the layer order by selecting an object and using the Up and Down arrows to move it within the list.

By utilizing these tools and techniques, you can efficiently rearrange objects using layers and achieve the desired order that best suits your spreadsheet design.

Considerations for Complex Drawings

When it comes to working with complex drawings in Excel, there are a few key considerations to keep in mind. Managing multiple objects, dealing with overlapping elements, and ensuring efficient organization and visibility can be challenging. However, with the right techniques and strategies, you can effectively handle complex drawings in Excel.

A. Challenges with complex drawings and overlapping objects

Complex drawings often involve multiple objects and elements that can overlap. This can pose several challenges, including:

  • Limited visibility: When objects overlap, it becomes difficult to view and work with individual elements.
  • Cluttered appearance: Overlapping objects can make the drawing appear cluttered and make it harder to discern different elements.
  • Editing difficulties: Editing specific objects within a complex drawing can be challenging when they are obscured by other overlapping elements.

B. Techniques for managing multiple object layers

To effectively manage complex drawings with overlapping objects, you can employ various techniques, including:

  • Grouping objects: Grouping related objects together allows for easier manipulation and management of multiple elements as a single unit.
  • Arranging objects: Excel offers options to arrange objects in a specific order, such as bringing an object to the front or sending it to the back, enabling you to control the layering of objects.
  • Using object properties: Adjusting object properties like transparency or line weights can help distinguish overlapping objects and improve visibility.
  • Utilizing grids and guides: Setting up grids and guides can aid in aligning and positioning objects precisely, reducing the chance of overlap.

C. Tips for efficient organization and visibility of complex drawings

To enhance the organization and visibility of complex drawings, consider the following tips:

  • Naming objects: Assigning meaningful names to objects can make it easier to identify and manipulate them within a complex drawing.
  • Using layers: Excel allows you to utilize layers to separate different elements of your drawing, making it easier to work on specific parts while keeping others hidden.
  • Creating a legend or key: Including a legend or key can provide a quick reference guide for understanding the different elements within a complex drawing.
  • Applying formatting consistency: Using consistent formatting for objects, such as colors, fonts, and styles, can help create a cohesive and visually appealing complex drawing.
  • Documenting your design: Keeping clear documentation of your design process, including object placement and arrangement, can aid in future edits and collaboration.

By taking these considerations and techniques into account, you can effectively manage and work with complex drawings in Excel. With proper organization, layer management, and attention to visibility, you can create and maintain complex drawings that are both functional and visually appealing.


In conclusion, specifying an order for drawing objects in Excel is a crucial step to ensure the accuracy and clarity of your data presentations. By customizing the object order, you can easily highlight important information and improve the overall visual appeal of your spreadsheets. Don't be afraid to practice and experiment with different object order specifications, as this will help you become more proficient in creating professional-looking Excel documents.

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