How to Draw Arrows in Excel

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To insert an arrow in Excel, you can choose a number of line drawing options. Excel is a not robust graphics program and is primarily designed for spreadsheet applications and calculations. What is lacks in glamour is made up many times over in useful applications. Drawing arrows is done with minimalist Excel drawing tools and it takes a matter of seconds to create and place an arrow as desired.


Appropriate Use of Arrows

You can use arrows for any custom illustrative purpose but they do have a few common uses. One is to highlight specific cells in a large spreadsheet. Sorting through numerous cells and endless rows of data is tedious. If you want to draw attention to specific numbers or a specific set of numbers, place an arrow pointing to the cell text. To really draw attention, use an arrow and highlight the background in yellow or another dominant color to pull the eye towards the cell text.


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Another common use of arrows is carry over content and flow. Extra large spreadsheets with calculations following an order can become distorted and difficult to follow. If your calculations carry through multiple cells, use arrows to draw the path and create order. The strategy equates to using breadcrumbs or graph drawings to build a trail for the eye to follow.

Insert an Arrow in Excel

To draw an arrow in Excel, click the "Insert" section on your toolbar. Click on "Shapes" to access a menu of preset drawing options. At this point, you must determine which arrow is most appropriate for your spreadsheet. You can use a straight-line arrow or one of the many curved options. Keep in mind that arrows will cross-over cells with ease. If the cells you want to connect are not on the same row, a curved arrow will navigate multiple rows to connect the dots.


Choose your arrow and click on the point of origin. Hold down the cursor and drag the arrow to cross cells until you reach the end point. Release the cursor to drop the arrow on the end point of your line. A straight line arrow will maintain a rigid shape although it can drag diagonally. A curved line will arc at your command.

Other Drawing Options

Excel is not limited to drawing arrows. You can select a number of different shapes and graphics to incorporate into your spreadsheet. You can add text clouds, brackets, arcs to connect and highlight data points, circles, rectangles and free form shape drawings. You can also draw a line in Excel using the same "Shapes" section.