Word 2016: Aligning, Ordering, and Grouping Objects

Introduction

There may be times when your documents have multiple objects, such as pictures, shapes, and text boxes. You can arrange the objects any way you want by aligning, grouping, ordering, and rotating them in various ways.

Optional: Download our practice document.

Watch the video below to learn more about arranging objects in Word.

To align two or more objects:

  1. Hold the Shift (or Ctrl) key and click the objects you want to align. In our example, we’ll select the four shapes on the right.
    selecting multiple objects
  2. From the Format tab, click the Align command, then select one of the alignment options. In our example, we’ll choose Align Right.
    selecting the align right command
  3. The objects will be aligned based on the selected option. In our example, the shapes are now aligned with each other.
    the aligned objects

Note that the Align Selected Objects option is selected by default, which allows you to align objects without moving them to a different part of the page. However, if you want to move the objects the top or bottom of the page, select Align to Page or Align to Margin before choosing an alignment option.

To distribute objects evenly:

If you have arranged your objects in a row or column, you may want them to be an equal distance from one another for a neater appearance. You can do this by distributing the objects horizontally or vertically.

  1. Hold the Shift (or Ctrl) key and click the objects you want to distribute.
  2. On the Format tab, click the Align command, then select Distribute Horizontally or Distribute Vertically.
    selecting the Distibute Vertically command
  3. The objects will be evenly spaced from one another.
    the objects after applying vertical distribution

Grouping objects

At times, you may want to group multiple objects into one object so they will stay together. This is usually easier than selecting them individually, and it also allows you to resize and move all of the objects at the same time.

To group objects:

  1. Hold the Shift (or Ctrl) key and click the objects you want to group.
  2. Click the Group command on the Format tab, then select Group.
    selecting the Group command
  3. The selected objects will now be grouped. There will be a single box with sizing handles around the entire group so you can move or resize all of the objects at the same time.
    the grouped objects

To ungroup objects:

  1. Select the grouped object. From the Format tab, click the Group command and select Ungroup.
    selecting the ungroup command
  2. The objects will be ungrouped.
    the ungrouped objects

Ordering objects

In addition to aligning objects, Word gives you the ability to arrange objects in a specific order. The ordering is important when two or more objects overlap because it determines which objects are in the front or the back.

Understanding levels

Objects are placed on different levels according to the order in which they were inserted into a document. In the example below, if we move the waves image to the beginning of the document, it covers up several of the text boxes. That’s because the image is currently on the highest—or top—level. However, we can change its level to put it behind the other objects.

an object covering up other objects on the page

To change an object’s level:

  1. Select the object you want to move. In our example, we’ll select the image of the waves.
  2. From the Format tab, click the Bring Forward or Send Backward command to change the object’s ordering by one level. In our example, we’ll select Send Backward.
    selecting Send Backward
  3. The objects will be reordered. In our example, the image is now behind the text on the left, but it’s still covering the shapes on the right.
    the re-ordered object
  4. If you want to move an object behind or in front of several objects, it’s usually faster to use Bring Forward or Send Backward instead of clicking the other ordering command multiple times.
    selecting Send to Back
  5. In our example, the image has been moved behind everything else on the page, so all of the other text and shapes are visible.
    the object moved to the back

If you have several objects placed on top of each other, it may be difficult to select an individual object. The Selection Pane allows you to easily drag an object to a different level. To view the Selection Pane, click Selection Pane on the Format tab.

opening the Selection pane

To rotate or flip an object:

If you need to turn an object so it faces a different direction, you can rotate it to the left or right, or you can flip it horizontally or vertically.

  1. With the desired object selected, click the Rotate command on the Format tab, then choose the desired rotation option. In our example, we’ll choose Flip Horizontal.
  2. The object will be rotated. In our example, we can now see the bubbles on the left that were previously hidden behind the text boxes.
    the flipped object

Challenge!

  1. Open our practice document.
  2. Scroll to page 2 and select the picture of the waves at the top of the page.
  3. Use the Rotate command to flip the waves vertically.
  4. Use the Send to Back command to move the waves behind the Martinique text box.
  5. Move the Martinique text box so it is near the bottom of the waves image.
  6. Make sure the waves picture and Martinique text box are no longer selected. Hold down the Shift key, then select the text boxes containing Cleaning, Maintenance, Repair, and Restoration.
  7. Click the Align command, and make sure the Align Selected Objects option is selected. Select Align Right and Distribute Vertically.
  8. With the text boxes still selected, group them.
  9. When you’re finished, your page should look something like this:Align Order Group Challenge

 
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