Combining Multiple Objects

Objects can overlap each other. When you draw an object in the same general location as an existing object, the new object covers up the previously drawn object. You can use this feature to strategically create special effects, but you might need to change the overlapping order of objects if you don't happen to draw them in the correct sequence. Excel's Bring to Front, Send to Back, Send Forward, and Send Backward commands let you position the objects where you want them on the worksheet.

You can also group objects so that they respond as a single object. This procedure is similar to selecting several cells at the same time, but grouping objects keeps them together as a single object until you ungroup them.

Once you group objects together, you can modify the grouped object by using any of the formatting commands you use for a single object.

Positioning the Objects

Each object that is placed on the worksheet exists on its own layer. Therefore, some objects (those that are closer to the top of the pile) can appear to cover up parts of other objects (those toward the bottom of the pile). Figure 11.16 shows a set of objects arranged in different orders from front (the top of the pile) to back (the bottom of the pile).

Figure 11.16. Objects toward the front can hide parts of other objects.


New objects are drawn at the very front of the slide (on the top of the pile). Because objects toward the front of the slide can cover those toward the back, it is often necessary to change the order of the objects. Fortunately, commands on the Draw menu are available for just that purpose.

If you want an object to appear behind all of the other objects (so that those objects can hide part of the object in the back), select the object and then select the Send to Back command on the Draw menu. On the other hand, if you want an object to appear at the very front of the worksheet (so that all of it is visible and it covers up parts of the objects behind it), select the object and then select Bring to Front on the Draw menu.

In general, text should appear at the very front of the drawing. You exercise even greater control over the order of the objects on the slide by using the Send Backward and Bring Forward command on the Draw menu.

In this To Do exercise, you position a circle and a rectangle on the Sheet3 worksheet. First, you draw a circle so that you can position it in front of and behind the square.

To Do: Position Objects
  1. To draw a circle, click the Oval button on the Drawing toolbar. The crosshair pointer appears on the worksheet.

  2. Move the crosshair over cell I2. This cell is where you want the circle to begin.

  3. Hold down the Shift key and click and drag diagonally from the top-left corner of cell I2 to the bottom-right corner of cell J7. This cell is where the object ends. Release the mouse button. Now you should see a circle on your worksheet.

  4. Drag the circle so that it appears on top of the rectangle.

  5. With the circle object selected, click the Draw button on the Drawing toolbar. The Draw menu appears.

  6. Choose Order. Figure 11.17 shows the positioning commands available on the Order menu.

    Figure 11.17. Positioning commands on the Order menu.


  7. Choose Send to Back. The circle object is now behind the rectangle. Only the top of the circle shows; the bottom is hidden by the rectangle.

  8. Click any cell to deselect the object.

Grouping Objects

After you've drawn and carefully placed several objects, group them to prevent accidentally messing up your placements. By creating a group, you can use a single command to change all the objects at once; for example, when you want to perform an action, such as adding a fill color, to more than one object at a time. Figure 11.18 shows a grouped object.

Figure 11.18. Grouped objects.


Select the first object and then hold down the Shift key while selecting additional objects. Next choose Group from the Draw menu. The objects are now grouped together into one object. Only one set of selection handles surround all the objects in the group.

If you change your mind and no longer want to group the objects, select the object and choose Ungroup from the Draw menu. The objects are independent again.


You might find it quicker to ungroup objects by right-clicking the object and choosing Ungroup from the shortcut menu.

After you ungroup the objects, you don't have to reselect them with the Shift+click method to group them again. Just select one of the objects and choose Regroup from the Draw menu. To work with an individual object, make sure that you select one of the objects before you do anything else. This step ensures that the group is no longer selected.

Modifying a Grouped Object

You can modify a grouped object the same way you would an individual object. Make sure the grouped object is selected and then use any of the tools on the Drawing toolbar to modify the grouped object.

    Part I: Excel Basics