How to Insert, Format, and Link Text Boxes in Microsoft Word

Enter Your Text in a box next to flowers

Even though Microsoft Word gives you plenty of ways to format, align, and manipulate text, there may be a time when it’s not enough. By using text boxes in Word, you have the flexibility to place text where you want, put it inside a shape, or customize it to make it pop.

How to Insert a Text Box in Word

You can insert a premade text box that includes formatting and a style or start from scratch by drawing your own.

Insert a Built-In Text Box

Using a premade text box, you can get a jump start on the formatting or apply a bit of flare without any extra work. Currently, this feature is only available in Word on Windows, not Mac.

  1. Head to the “Insert” tab and open the “Text Box” drop-down box. You’ll see options below “Built-in” at the top. If you hover your cursor over one, you can see a brief description.
Text box built-in options in Word
  1. Choose the premade text box you want to use, and you’ll see it pop onto the page.
Built-in text box in Word
  1. Click inside the box, which selects the sample text, then type your own.
Text replaced in a built-in text box

You can customize the built-in text box, just like one you draw yourself, which is described below.

Draw a Text Box

If you want a complete blank canvas for your text box, you can draw one the size you need and insert your text. Additionally, this is the only option for inserting a text box in Word on Mac at this time.

  1. Go to the “Insert” tab and open the “Text Box” drop-down box. On Windows, select “Draw Text Box.”
Draw Text Box in Word on Windows
  1. On Mac, select either “Draw Text Box” or “Draw Vertical Text Box.” The latter places the text sideways in the box as shown below.
Draw Text Box in Word on Mac
  1. When your cursor changes to a crosshair symbol, drag to draw the text box the size you want. You can still resize the text box later if needed.
Drawing a text box in Word
  1. Once you have your box, just type your text inside of it.
Drawn text box in Word

Note: you can also add text boxes in Google Docs.

How to Resize, Rotate, or Move a Text Box

You aren’t stuck with the size, angle, or location of your new text box. You can easily resize, rotate, or move a text box in Word a few different ways.

Resize a Text Box

  1. To quickly resize a text box, drag a corner or edge.
Resized text box in Word
  1. You can also go to the “Shape Format” tab to change the size. Use the Size section of the ribbon to enter the dimensions in the “Height” and “Width” boxes.
Size boxes on the Shape Format tab
  1. If you want to size your box according to the text within it, right-click the text box and pick “Format Shape.” When the sidebar opens, go to the “Layout & Properties” tab and check the box for “Resize shape to fit text.”
Resize a text box to fit the content setting

Rotate a Text Box

  1. To freely rotate the box, drag the circular arrow at the top to the right or left.
Rotating a text box in Word
  1. To rotate it right or left 90 degrees, go to the “Shape Format” tab. Pick an option from the “Rotate” drop-down menu in the “Arrange” section of the ribbon.
Rotate options on the Shape Format tab
  1. For an exact angle, right-click and choose “More Layout Options.” Open the Size tab, enter the angle in the “Rotation” box, and click “OK.”
Rotate option in the Layout box

Move a Text Box

To move a text box, drag it to your desired location.

Because a text box works like an object, any other text in your document won’t move out of the way for a text box. However, you can use the Wrap Text and Position features to adjust this if needed.

Text box over words
  1. Go to the “Shape Format” tab, then use the “Wrap Text” drop-down box in the “Arrange” section of the ribbon to choose a wrapping option. For instance, you can place the box in line with the text.
Wrap Text menu in Word
  1. You can also use the “Position” drop-down box to the left of “Wrap Text” to place the box in a specific spot within the text. For example, you can place it on the top left with text wrapping around it.
Position menu in Word

Tip: learn how you can create and customize tables in Word.

How to Customize the Text Box Appearance

Along with resizing, rotating, or moving a text box, you may want to change its appearance. You can customize the shape of the text box, apply a background color, or give it a border.

  1. Select the text box and head to the “Shape Format” tab, then use the following sections of the ribbon to customize the box and text:
  • Insert Shapes: open the “Edit Shape” drop-down menu, move to “Change Shape,” and select a new shape in the pop-out menu.
Change Shape on the Shape Format tab
  • Shape Styles: pick a preformatted design in the Shapes Styles box or choose a fill, apply a border, or add a shadow.
Shape Styles on the Shape Format tab
  • WordArt Styles and Text: use these two sections to adjust the appearance of the text. Apply a design, fill, outline, or effect. You can also change the direction or align the text. For the font style and size, use the options in the “Font” section of the “Home” tab.
WordArt and Text options on the Shape Format tab
  1. For additional options, right-click the text box and select “Format Shape,” then you can adjust both the box and text settings in the sidebar. Some options match those in the ribbon while others are different. For instance, you can adjust the transparency of the box or text.
Format Shape sidebar in Word

Try this: create an organized document with a table of contents and add page numbers in Word.

How to Connect Text Boxes in Word

One super-handy feature of text boxes in Word is that you can link them together. This allows you to start typing in one box and have the text carry over to the next box. It’s ideal for a list of tips, brief instructions, or short stories you want to include with your content.

To link text boxes, the box you want to connect to the previous one must be empty. If you already have your boxes filled with text, you can either remove the text from the subsequent boxes or add new boxes and remove the existing ones.

  1. Insert a text box as described earlier, then add a second text box, but be sure to leave it empty.
Empty text box to connect
  1. Select the first text box, go to the “Shape Format” tab, and pick “Create Link” in the Text section of the ribbon.
Create Link on the Shape Format tab
  1. When your cursor changes to a paint can icon, click inside the second text box. This creates a link between the two. If you want a third or fourth text box linked, follow the same process by linking the second box to the third, third to the fourth, and so on.
Paint Can icon to link text boxes in Word
  1. As you add text to the first box, the text that won’t fit then fills the second text box. If you have more text boxes, they will continue to fall into them.
Linked text boxes in Word
  1. If you resize the text boxes, the amount of text in each one adjusts to accommodate it. When you resize one text box, you’ll see the linked box automatically resize as well.
Resized linked text boxes in Word
  1. Should you decide later you don’t want the boxes linked, you can break the link. Select the first text box, go to the “Shape Format” tab, and click “Break Link.” Follow the same process to remove any additional text box connections.
Break Link on the Shape Format tab

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I add a hyperlink to a text box in Word?

You can add a link to a text box or specific text within it, just like any other object or text in a Word document.

To link the box, select it. To link specific text within the box, select it instead. Right-click, pick “Link” or “Hyperlink,” then choose an existing file or web page, place in the document, new document, or email address. On the right, select the item or add the URL and click “OK.”

How do I stop text from wrapping inside of a text box?

By default, the text inside of a text box wraps to the next line when it reaches the edge of the shape. But you can change this if you would like.

Right-click the text box and pick “Format Shape.” When the sidebar opens, select the “Layout & Properties” tab and uncheck the box for “Wrap text in shape.”

Can I temporarily hide text boxes in Word?

As you work on the other content in your document, you may want to hide a text box or two to focus on other things.

Select a text box, go to the “Shape Format” tab, and click “Selection Pane” in the “Arrange” section. When the sidebar opens, click the eye icon to the right of a text box to hide it. For all text boxes, click “Hide All” at the top. To unhide the text boxes, select the eye with a line through it to the right or pick “Show All” at the top.

Image credit: Pixabay. All screenshots by Sandy Writtenhouse.

Sandy Writtenhouse
Sandy Writtenhouse

With her BS in Information Technology, Sandy worked for many years in the IT industry as a Project Manager, Department Manager, and PMO Lead. She wanted to help others learn how technology can enrich business and personal lives and has shared her suggestions and how-tos across thousands of articles.

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