Applying a Background or Border Design in Visio 2010

Visio 2010 introduces a new way to apply a background or border and title design to your diagrams. The new Backgrounds and Borders & Titles galleries on the Design tab in the ribbon let you choose from a variety of styles and apply them with one click.



For several versions, Visio has provided a way to apply a background design to diagrams using shapes that you drag out from the Backgrounds stencil that opens with many of the templates. In Visio 2010, you can do this by clicking on a preview thumbnail in the Backgrounds gallery.


When you apply a background, Visio creates a background page (named “VBackground-1”, if it’s the first one), drops the background shape on it, and assigns it to the foreground page.


If you right-click on the preview thumbnail in the Backgrounds gallery, you can choose to apply it to all the pages in the document or just the current page.

Apply al all or current page

Once the background page is created, you can click on its page tab to put additional items on it that you want to appear on all the foreground pages it’s assigned to, like your company name or logo.

The color of the background can be defined by a theme. After a background is applied, additional themes with background colors appear in the Themes gallery. When one of these themes is applied, the background takes the color from the theme.

Themes with dark backgrounds

You can also click on the Background Color command at the bottom of the Backgrounds gallery to pick a color.

Background Color Picker

Borders & Titles

You can apply border and title designs to your pages in a way similar to backgrounds, using the Borders & Titles gallery on the Design tab. As with the Backgrounds gallery, a background page is created to hold the border shape. And you can right-click on the gallery thumbnail to choose to apply the border to all the pages in the document or just the current page.


You can edit the border’s title by clicking on the background page tab, selecting the border shape, and typing a title. This title will appear on all the foreground pages that the background page is assigned to, so it works best as a document title rather than a title for individual pages.

Title Editing

If you don’t want the border’s footer (which usually includes a page number) to appear at the bottom of the page, you can right-click on the border shape on the background page and choose Hide Footer.

Hide Footer 

Let us know what you think about the new Backgrounds and Borders & Titles features in the Visio 2010 Technical Preview using Send a Smile or a comment on the blog.

Comments (30)

  1. thenonhacker says:

    I prefer you make use of PowerPoint’s Master Slide Editor "on a separate view".

    This will leave the bottom tabs exclusively for real content.

  2. Grrrrrr says:

    How do you save a modified border & title back into the gallery?

  3. Mike G says:

    I need to be able to have a different title on each page.

  4. Kristi Bente says:

    I need an easy way to add page numbers!!!!!!!!

  5. Percy B says:

    I HATE IT! 30 minutes to figure out how to add page numbers. Obviously whoever designed this does not wok with the software on a daily basis or they would have seen how cumbersome this approach is.

  6. Simbaad says:

    Any tips on how to create a custom backgroud page?


  7. David says:

    I am searching for way to either move the position of the page field on the Background tab or insert a new one in the location I need in the background page.

    It does not appears one is unable to do either.  🙁

  8. Stew Dean says:

    This is very badly thought out. Visio already had a way to handle backgrounds that needed better integration – this instead integrates power point type versions of backgrounds so you now have two totally different types of backgrounds in Visio. The real useful backgrounds, after some quick use, still appear to be handled in a sub dialogue box whilst the visual not so useful background are in the main nav bar. Terrible user experience.

  9. sharon says:

    I never comment on things. but this is so badly thought out I HAD to.

    I've always used my title and my Page Names in my header and footer.  If I make a Page Name change, the header automatically updates.  Now I have to make a static header for every page and remember to update if a change is made.  Excel is better than Visio for presentation?  How is this possible?

    1. KathrynP says:

      You can do this by adding a text box. Then go into the text box and insert a field for Page Name. This must be copied onto each page. It is a pain, but at least you will always have the header match the title of the page.

  10. OhVisio says:

    First of all, when I add a background, or borders and titles, the "VBackground" tab is not being created. I can still make changes to the shapes (borders and such), but it's very cumbersome.

    Second, how do I move a page number box? Even if I try to change its location via "size and position" pane, it does not work. Any ideas?

  11. Help! says:

    How do I create a custom background or border, similar to that of the quickparts available in Word?


  12. Charlie says:

    I share the frustration of some of the other commenters.  All I want to do is add page numbers.  Works great in MS-Word.  Why does Visio behave so radically different?  Was it written by Google ex-pats?

  13. chairmenmeow47 says:

    I am about to throw this out the window.  I JUST WANT PAGE NUMBERS!

  14. Steve N. says:

    What happened to the old backgrounds???

  15. vaporland says:

    DONT delete the background tab BEFORE removing a background from a page – it will become permanent and you cannot ever remove it

  16. Deborah says:

    Cannot edit border title or remove footer as explained here

  17. John says:

    User experience for changing background and modifying background color is terrible.

  18. Confused user says:

    How can I remove the white space border around the canvas? Even when exporting to pdf, it's not gone. This is such a productivity-stopper since post-processing costs additional time. Can I disable the border, or do I have to go back to Visio 2007 or a different tool?


  19. BFT says:

    yuck, the whole office suite is getting dumber and dumber, consistency seems to have been replaced with quirky

  20. Sunny says:

    How do I change the grid color and weight?  I want to adjust the page so that it is easy on my eyes (and brain).  If there is anything that Microsoft is good at it is adding lots of stuff that is not necessary…,  and not including the stuff that people want or need.  Microsoft needs a reality check.  When MS acquires something or otherwise gets involved, it is only a matter of time before the UI and other stuff gets screwed up.

  21. Glenn Gordon says:

    It doesn't really add a border, which is what I want. It does allow adding a title, which I don't happen to want.

  22. Is top-left really such an unusual spot to display document info? says:

    In:  Visio 2010

    Have:  A user-defined block of shapes with field-based text.

    Want:  To place this block on a background page, such that it appears in the UPPER LEFT corner of all 'associated' foreground pages, REGARDLESS of the Page Size or Orientation of the foreground page (which may differ from the Page Size of the background page).

    Tried:  Adjusting grid origin, ruler zero, shape x/y/Pin Pos, playing with the Borders feature, searching for various alternate options/features.

    Outcome:  Nil. Page resizing always shifts my block away from the desired position (which is relative to the top left corner of the my page.)

    Comment: This task would be effortless if I wanted my block of shapes to appear in the bottom-left of the page, but that placement is not prominent enough.

  23. James Keuning says:

    Holy crap this is suckily horrible.

  24. Michel Vromen says:

    Hi, I noticed you can have the page name as title. However, when set in background tab, it will show that tab/page name as title on all pages. How can I set it up so it will show the name of the page on which the title is show?

  25. bobo says:

    Migawd. can't you people EVER leave things alone? I used to be able to whip out drawings quickly.. then Visio 2010 came along.

  26. Frustrated says:

    This sucks. Putting an extra tab at the bottom with 'background' for each tab is a terrible idea. A 'background master' like in PowerPoint would be much better.

  27. shaponshekh says:

    <a href="

    remove-background-20-images-professionally">Background Change</a>

  28. Francine says:

    I am using Visio Standard 2013.  I created the Vbackground and it worked well.  When I now go to the file, ,the background is on the "page" but, when I click on the "Vbackground" tab, I cannot see the background I created.  

  29. Matt Pitman says:

    The Vbackground always overlaps my flowcharts – how do I stop this?

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