How to Draw Arrows in Excel

By Aaron Parson

Learn how to insert, style and position arrows in an Excel spreadsheet. Quickly draw a simple arrow or design one part by part.

In Excel 2013, drawing arrows helps to call out important data and visually links cells or chart elements together. Arrows -- and other inserted shapes -- don't have any effect on the actual data in your spreadsheet, so they won't break your formulas or graphs. Unlike the default settings for drawings in Word, arrows and other shapes in Excel also have no effect on the page layout, so you don't need to worry about shifting cells out of place.

Step 1

Open the Insert tab, click Shapes and pick an arrow style from the Lines section. Click and drag on your spreadsheet to draw the arrow.

Step 2

Change the arrow's style using the Format tab. Pick a preset style from the Shape Styles section, or use the Shape Outline and Shape Effects menus to customize the arrow's appearance.

The Format tab only appears with the arrow selected.

Step 3

Set the arrow's color, weight (thickness), dashes and arrowheads in the Shape Outline menu.

Click More Lines in any submenu for further style options.

Step 4

Add special effects, such as glow, shadow or reflection from the Shape Effects menu. Combine multiple effects of different types to customize the arrow.

Arrow with glow and shadow

Step 5

Drag either endpoint while holding Alt to snap the endpoint perfectly to a cell's corner. Even if you place an arrow on top of a chart or another object, the point snaps to the position of the cell corners underneath the object.


To snap an endpoint to the side of another object, such as a chart or shape, drag the point without holding Alt. When you connect lines to other objects, the line remains attached to the object even if you move the object later.

Position endpoints for a clean look.


A completely different type of arrow tracks formula dependencies. You don't draw these arrows manually; enable them by clicking Trace Precedents or Trace Dependents on the Formulas tab.