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Visio and Word


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March 2nd 2004
February 25th 2009






Introduction
Shapes, Stencils and Drawings
Inserting Visio Drawings in Word - 1
Inserting Visio Drawings in Word - 2
Inserting Visio Drawings in Word - 3
Insert Visio Shapes in Word
More Info


Introduction

It's easy to bring in your Visio content into Word - depending upon what you want to import, you can choose a procedure that suits you best. While I'm using Word for these examples, the same techniques can be used to insert Visio content in Excel, Publisher or PowerPoint as well.

The PowerPoint and Visio page might be helpful too, especially If you are looking for more detailed information on using Visio and PowerPoint together - for instance you might want to animate Visio content within PowerPoint.

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Shapes, Stencils and Drawings

Basically, you can import two types of Visio content - shapes and drawings.

Shapes are the individual building blocks that comprise finished Visio drawings - in Visio parlance, shapes are collectively stored in libraries called Stencils. Visio ships with an impressive collection of stencils suitable for block diagrams, building plans, databases, engineering (electric, mechanical and process) models, flowcharts, forms and charts, maps, visual networks, organization charts, project schedules, software structures and web diagrams.

The stencils that you can view within your Visio interface (see File | Shapes) are actually all individual stencil files that are recognizable with the VSS extension. Visio is completely extensible and any other third-party stencil that you place within the designated stencil folder (usually Program Files\Microsoft Office\Visio11\1033 for Visio 2003 - for other versions, do a search on your system for *.vss) shows up within Visio itself.

Drawings are the Visio creations you create by dragging shapes from these stencils into the document window to place an instance. More often than not, these shapes are connected to each other using Connectors so that meaningful relationships can be identified between linked shapes. Templates are readymade drawings with some shape instances already placed and relevant stencils open so that you can achieve professional results in a snap.

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Inserting Visio Drawings in Word - 1

There are many ways you can insert Visio content into Word. Easiest of them all is to copy from Visio and paste into Word. Although this is not suitable for all purposes, it certainly is the easiest way. Double-clicking the drawing in Word will automatically launch Visio and you can also carry out edits as required within Visio itself and all changes are visible within Word as well. However, this can cause problems if the Word file is moved to another system that has no Visio installed.

To counter that, you can choose Paste Special in Word rather than Paste and choose either Paste (Windows Metafile) or Picture (Enhanced Metafile) - this pastes a scalable drawing into Word that has no link with its original content.

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Inserting Visio Drawings in Word - 2

Sometimes, it is a better idea to export the drawing from Visio to a graphic format that Word can understand and then bring it into Word using the Insert | Picture route.

  1. Open or create a Visio diagram. Choose File | Save As...

  2. The resultant 'Save As' dialog box allows you to save the diagram to several graphic formats - both vector and raster. In all you can save to 28 formats - we'll choose WMF or EMF since they are the best formats to transport graphic content between Microsoft applications.

  3. In Word, choose Insert | Picture | From File... and navigate to and choose the WMF/EMF file.

Off Topic: If you need to send your Visio content to a high-end printer or page layout program, you could have chosen the AI/EPS file type in the File | Save As... in Visio 2002 or earlier. Unfortunately, this ability is no longer available in Visio 2003.

You can export to the SVG format which Adobe Illustrator opens natively.

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Inserting Visio Drawings in Word - 3

  1. In Word, choose Insert | Object. In the resultant dialog box, choose the 'Create New' option and select 'Microsoft Visio Drawing'. Click OK.

  2. Visio opens with the 'Choose Drawing Type' option. Make your selection and decide if would like to use the color scheme from the Word presentation - thereafter create your diagram.

  3. Click anywhere outside the Visio area to go back to Word.

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Insert Visio Shapes in Word

To insert Visio shapes into Word, you don't even need to open Visio. You can open VSS - Visio Stencil files even without invoking Visio. VSS files are typically stored in a designated folder. (see above - Shapes, Stencils and Drawings)

Double click any VSS file in Windows Explorer to open it in a separate compact window if Visio is not already open. Click any shape and drag it into an open Word document window. That's all you need to do! This trick works with PowerPoint too.

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More Info

  • The Microsoft Visio homepage is chock-a-block of tips, techniques and support info. While you are there, you can order a 30-day trial version of Visio on CD-ROM, which also contains excellent tutorial movies and case studies.

  • The Microsoft Visio Viewer is a free download which allows you to distribute your Visio drawings to those who are not equipped with the application.
     
  • Visio MVP John Marshall's site is a treasure trove of Visio related info - you'll find loads of links to providers of third-party stencils, templates and drawings as well as tons of pointers to other Visio related sites.

  • Search posts in the Visio newsgroups archive for all sorts of Visio-related information.

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