How to Make 3D Text (and the old Preset Gradients) with new Versions of Microsoft Word


HOW TO USE WORD 2003 WORDART WITH WORD 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016

In Microsoft Word 2007 and onward, the WordArt and textbox options changed substantially from Word 2003.

Although for the most part I prefer the newer versions of Word’s drawing tools, there are a few features from 2003 that I rather like:

  • I prefer the original 3D text effects (and shape effects) options.
  • I like some of the old preset gradients, such as Fire and Sapphire.

There is a way to use these old drawing tools. Click File > Save As and adjust Save As Type from Word Document to Word 97-2003 Document. This changes the extension from .DOCX to .DOC.

Unfortunately, you won’t be able to use any of the newer features in your Word file if you do that.

But there is a way to enjoy the best of both worlds. Follow these steps:

  • Open a new document.
  • Click File > Options > Advanced and check the box Do Not Compress Images In File (for most recent versions of Microsoft Word for Windows), unless you don’t higher quality for your purposes.
  • Click File > Save As and adjust Save As Type to Word 97-2003 Document.
  • When you finish your picture, convert the file to JPEG format. You get the best results with professional image-editing software like Adobe Photoshop or Gimp. If the program is too primitive (like the basic version of Paint), you might get a significantly pixilated or blurry image. Here is a tip: Make the page size 20″ x 20″ in Word (with zero margins), change the View to Page Width, set the margins to zero, and make very large text and drawings. This way, if you use the snipping tool, you can compensate for the lower resolution snip (which used to be 72 dpi or 96 dpi, but on some new computers with large monitors it is 192 dpi). In the image program, set the dpi to 300 and resize the image to what you really need (probably 8″ or less), and the resulting picture will effectively be much sharper than it would have been had you started with 8″ (or less) in Word. (You want to go 20″ x 20″ in the beginning when you’re making the picture, otherwise you may run into alignment issues or problems with your border being too thin. You’ll want to work with a huge font size, etc.)
  • Now open your actual Word file, which may be .DOCX format. Insert > Picture, find your JPEG picture, and insert it into your Word file. A nice thing about JPEG’s is that they help to keep your Word file from growing too complex and becoming corrupt. I convert most of my pictures and tables into JPEG’s (and save each chapter of my books in separate files) to help deal with memory and complexity (and conversion) issues. It also helps when you can set the Text Wrap to In Line With Text (though occasionally I need one to float In Front of Text).

The newer versions of Microsoft Word do have a few cool WordArt features, like bevels. The following picture was created with a recent version of Word in .DOCX format.

The following picture was created in .DOC format (the Word 97-2003 setting) with a recent version of Word. The picture at the beginning of this article was also created that way.

Creating WordArt in .DOC format (the Word 97-2003 setting) with recent versions of Word for Windows:

  • WordArt and Textboxes are different in this format (whereas they are the same in the newer format).
  • Look on the Insert menu. On the text panel, choose the A button in the middle. Choose one of the presets to serve as a handy starting point.
  • Select the WordArt and go to the Format ribbon.
  • One of the buttons worth noting is the Change Shape option. Play with these options.
  • For 3D effects, click the 3-D Effects button. Play with the Color, Depth, Direction, and Lighting in addition to exploring the options above.
  • The default font, Arial, works quite well with WordArt. If you wish to change the font (right-click the WordArt and choose Edit Text), pick a TrueType font for better results.
  • In .DOC format, resizing the textbox and even changing the aspect ratio can quickly help you find the right look. You don’t have to change the font size.
  • Click Shape Fill > Gradients > More Gradients. Select the Preset option to explore preset gradients like Fire, Gold, Rainbow, and Sapphire (four of my favorites). Note that you can adjust the direction of the gradient, and that some directions look much better than others (it can change the look drastically from what you would expect).
  • Beware the distinction between Shape Effects and Text Effects. If you’re not paying attention, it’s easy to do the wrong one.

Creating WordArt in .DOCX format:

  • Look on the Insert menu. It won’t matter if you begin with a Textbox or if you click the A button in the center of the Text panel and choose one of the options as a starting point.
  • Select the Textbox and go to the Format ribbon.
  • Look at the WordArt styles panel. There are three A buttons in a column. The bottom A button gives you options like Bevel or 3-D Rotation. Under any of these options, at the bottom of the list will be an option with ellipsis (…). Click this and you’ll discover a new option, 3-D Format.
  • If you want to make a 3D rotation, the best thing is to first choose one of the presets, and then try experimenting with the x, y, and z rotation angles. The presets help you get started.
  • Click the top A and select Gradients for the (limited) gradient options.
  • Beware the distinction between Shape Effects and Text Effects. If you’re not paying attention, it’s easy to do the wrong one.

Write Happy, Be Happy

Chris McMullen

Author of the Improve Your Math Fluency series of math workbooks and self-publishing guides

12 comments on “How to Make 3D Text (and the old Preset Gradients) with new Versions of Microsoft Word

  1. Pingback: Free Fonts | Nicholas C. Rossis

  2. Hi Chris,
    You stole a little of my thunder. I’m working on a weekly blog to use the graphics power of Microsoft Word to enhance your blogs. Well, there is so much in this area, hopefully, we won’t step on each other’s toes.

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