Changing the Appearance of Toolbar Buttons and Menu Items

You may occasionally want to change the text or image used in your toolbar buttons or menu items. In the following sections, you'll learn how.

Changing the Text of a Menu Command or Toolbar Button

Many of the commands you can add to a menu bar or toolbar have descriptions that are quite lengthy: for instance, names of styles, or typefaces. Left alone, they can take up too much space on a toolbar, or make a menu bar clumsier to use. In some instances?such as macro names?the labels Word assigns can be difficult to understand.

By default, if you place a command on a toolbar, Word will use a toolbar button for that command if one exists. But in many cases, no toolbar button exists. Of course, if you're adding a command to a menu bar, you'll most likely want to use text in any case.

You can edit the text of a menu item or toolbar button for brevity or clarity. To do so, carry out these steps:

  1. Choose Tools, Customize.

  2. Right-click on the toolbar button you want to edit. If you want to edit a menu item, click on the menu; the entire menu will appear. Then right-click on the menu item you want to edit. A shortcut menu appears (see Figure 31.7).

    Figure 31.7. You can change a toolbar button or menu item through the Customize shortcut menu.



    You can change the name or graphic for any button, not just the ones you've inserted.

  3. Click inside the Name text box.

  4. Type the new name you want. To assign a keyboard shortcut key, place the ampersand character (&) before the letter you want to serve as the keyboard shortcut.

  5. Press Enter, and Word automatically changes the button accordingly.

Changing the Appearance of a Toolbar Button

If you want to change the appearance of a toolbar button (or add one to a command that doesn't have one), Word gives you all the tools you need to do so:

  • You can assign a new button graphic in place of an existing image or text.

  • You can copy and adapt an image from another button.

  • You can create a button yourself, from scratch.

Each of these options is covered next.

Copying an Image from an Existing Button

If you want to copy an image from an existing button onto any other toolbar button, follow these steps:

  1. Make sure that the toolbar containing the image you want and the toolbar where you plan to place the image are both visible.

  2. Right-click the toolbar button image you want to borrow or adapt, and choose Copy Button Image from the shortcut menu.

  3. Right-click the button on which you want to paste the image.

  4. Choose Paste Button Image.

Using a Button from Word's Button Library

If none of the button icons visible in your configuration of Word fits the bill, you can always browse through some of Word's other 42 generic buttons. To do so, follow these directions:

  1. Right-click the button you want to change.

  2. Choose Change Button Image. This brings up a submenu showing Word's other available button images (refer to Figure 31.7).

  3. Select an image from the cascaded menu.


Using the Windows Clipboard, you can copy any bitmapped image onto a toolbar button, including images created in programs such as Microsoft Paint.

  1. Open the graphics program and create or open the image you want.

  2. Select all or part of the image and copy the selected image to the Clipboard (select the image and press Ctrl+C).

  3. Switch to Word and choose Tools, Customize.

  4. Right-click the toolbar button where you want to use the image.

  5. Choose Paste Button Image.

Be aware, however, that most images created elsewhere weren't designed for use on tiny, square toolbar buttons. The images that produce the best results are typically square (or roughly square) and have strong outlines with little internal detail.

If Word's stock images aren't enough, try using the other Office programs. Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, and Access have their own Tools, Customize dialog boxes, largely identical to the one in Word. You can copy an image from a toolbar button in Excel or PowerPoint and then paste it onto a toolbar button in Word.

In some cases, both an image and text are associated with a Word command, and when you assign the command to a toolbar button, both the image and the text appear. If Word displays both the image and the text, and you don't want to see the text, right-click the button and choose Default Style from the shortcut menu.

Thereafter, Word displays only the picture for that button.

Editing Existing Button Images

It's possible you still don't have the right image for your custom toolbar button. In that case, you can create it yourself with Word's Button Editor?or better yet, adapt it from an existing image that's close but not quite right.

If you have an image you can use as a starting point, follow these steps:

  1. Make sure that the Tools, Customize dialog box is open.

  2. Open the image in any graphics program and copy the image to the Clipboard (Ctrl+C).

  3. Switch to Word, right-click on the button, and choose Paste Button Image.

  4. Then right-click on the button and choose Edit Button Image from the shortcut menu.

  5. Word's Button Editor appears (see Figure 31.8). If you selected a button with an image, that image appears enlarged in the Picture box. If the button you selected had no image at all, the Picture box appears blank.

    Figure 31.8. In the Button Editor, you can color or erase individual pixels within your button to get the exact image you want.


Now you can add or erase lines and colors from the picture, like this:

  • To choose a color, click its square in the Colors area.

  • To add color to the image, click and drag the mouse pointer across the individual pixels you want to color.

  • To erase an existing part of the image, click on the Erase square in the Colors area and drag that across the individual pixels. Parts of an image that are left clear will appear transparent?in other words, they will be the same color as the button's background.

As you work, the button in the Preview area shows how your button now appears. If you're not happy with the results, you can click Clear to blank out the Picture box and try again.

This is painstaking work?which is why you're better off starting from a button image that can be adapted, wherever possible, rather than working from scratch.

    Part I: Word Basics: Get Productive Fast
    Part II: Building Slicker Documents Faster
    Part III: The Visual Word: Making Documents Look Great
    Part IV: Industrial-Strength Document Production Techniques
    Part VI: The Corporate Word