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
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.
Snap to Shape is a mode that can be toggled on or off.
Here's how to turn Snap to Shape on:
- Select a shape on the worksheet. Charts, slicers, images, and text boxes are all considered shapes in Excel.
- The Format tab will appear on the ribbon. Click on it.
- Click the Align drop-down button.
- Select Snap to Shape.
Here's a screenshot of how to turn Snap to Shape on:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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! 🙂