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Resize & Align Dashboard Elements with Snap to Shape

Bottom line: Learn how to resize & align the charts, slicers, images, and other shapes in your dashboards with the Snap to Shape feature in Excel.

Skill level: Beginner

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Aligning Our Dashboards to Perfection

When creating a dashboard we typically want most of the elements to be perfectly aligned.  This gives it a nice polished look and helps the reader's eye move through the page.

This task can be quite time consuming if you have a lot of elements in your dashboard.  So, in this post and video I explain how to use the Snap to Shape feature to quickly align and resize shapes (charts, slicers, images, text boxes, etc.) on the worksheet.

I have a free 3-part video series on pivot tables and dashboards that explains how to create the entire dashboard in the video above.  In the 3rd video in the series I explain how to use the Align buttons on the Format tab of the ribbon to align shapes.  Snap to Shape is an alternative to that technique.

Snap to Shape Makes Layouts Easy

The Snap to Shape feature allows us to quickly align a shape with other shapes on a worksheet.  When we move a shape by dragging it with the mouse, it will snap into alignment with other shapes on the worksheet.

Align Dashbord Elements with Snap to Shape in Excel

Snap to Shape is a mode that can be toggled on or off.

Here's how to turn Snap to Shape on:

  1. Select a shape on the worksheet.  Charts, slicers, images, and text boxes are all considered shapes in Excel.
  2. The Format tab will appear on the ribbon.  Click on it.
  3. Click the Align drop-down button.
  4. Select Snap to Shape.

Here's a screenshot of how to turn Snap to Shape on:

Toggle Snap to Shape on in Excel

Snap to Shape allows us to quickly align the shapes without having to use the Align Top, Left, Right, etc. buttons.  Those buttons require us to first select multiple shapes, and that can be a time consuming process.

Snap to Grid is Along for the Ride

When Snap to Shape is turned on, Snap to Grid is also automatically turned on.  Snap to Grid will help align the shapes to the rows and columns on the worksheet.

Snap to Grid is Turned On with Snap to Shape

I don't believe there is any way to turn Snap to Grid off while leaving Snap to Shape on.  Please leave a comment below if you do know of a way.

Sometimes we don't use the rows and columns in our dashboards, so it would be nice to turn Snap to Shape on and Snap to Grid off.

When you turn Snap to Shape off, Snap to Grid remains on.  So one quick tip is to turn Snap to Grid off when you want to toggle both modes off.  I explain more about this in the video above.

Snap to Grid Turns Snap to Shape Off

Resize  and Align Shapes

Snap to Shape also works great for resizing shapes that you want to align to other shapes on the sheet.  When resizing a shape, the height or width of the shape will snap to the borders of the other shapes around it.

Resize and Align Shapes with Snap to Shape

We can now resize and align shapes in one or two steps by resizing the opposite corners of the shape.  The height and width will snap perfectly to the existing shapes on the dashboard (worksheet).

Temporarily Toggle Snapping Off

You might find that you really like Snap to Shape when working with shapes or dashboards.

 

Alt Key Temporarily Turns Snapping Off in Excel

If you have snapping turned on, you can hold down the Alt key (Cmd on the Mac) to temporarily turn it off while moving or resizing a shape.  This is a really handy shortcut because it gives you the best of both worlds.

Unfortunately, Snap to Shape will NOT remain on when you completely close and re-open Excel.  You can add the Snap to Shape button the Quick Access Toolbar to make it easier to toggle on/off.

Add Snap to Shape Quick Access Toolbar

What Are Your Tips for Aligning Shapes?

There are a lot of ways to size and align shapes in Excel.  Please leave a comment below with any tips you have.  Thank you! 🙂

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Jon Acampora
 

Welcome to Excel Campus! I am excited you are here. My name is Jon and my goal is to help you learn Excel to save time with your job and advance in your career. I've been an avid Excel user and VBA developer for 10+ years. I am also a Microsoft MVP. I try to learn something new everyday, and want to share this knowledge with you to help you improve your skills. When I'm not looking at spreadsheets, I get outdoors and surf. :) more about me

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 6 comments
Mohan - December 16, 2017

Hi Jon, How do i get the “FORMAT” and “XL CAMPUS” tabs on Ribbon bar?

Reply
Ranyere Rodrigues - December 15, 2017

Thanks, Jon.

Holding Alt and resizing the shape by clicking and holding with the mouse will do the same job, unless I’m missing something.

Reply
    Jon Acampora - December 15, 2017

    Hi Ranyere,
    Thank you for the suggestion! Holding Alt will turn on Snap to Grid, but not Snap to Shape. So we can use that to snap the shapes to the grid (rows & columns), but not the other shapes on the sheet. I don’t believe there is a keyboard shortcut to temporarily turn Snap to Shape on, but let me know if you find one. Thanks so much! 🙂

    Reply
Bipin solanki - December 14, 2017

Hiee.. john sir.. I want to learn advance excel.. so thats why please suggest me some excel book or online course.

Reply
Paul Richmond - December 14, 2017

Thanks for the great tip. Definitely something I will be using to align my charts in the future!

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