Where are the Fill Effects?

Why fill your autoshapes with just a boring single color when you can do so
much more?

In the picture below,

  • The top rectangle has a traditional single-color fill. This is the default look that

    autoshapes get.

  • The middle rectangle has a pretty two-color gradient, going diagonally from dark blue


  • The bottom one is textured with an image.


It's all very easy to do.

  1. First create your favorite autoshape in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Publisher, or

    You can do this either using the Drawing toolbar (View |
    ) or through Insert
    | Picture | AutoShapes.

  2. Double-click the newly-created shape.
  3. Select the Color drop-down.
  4. Choose Fill Effects...

This is another feature that's been around since Office 97. However, I
never discovered it until I started working at Microsoft.

Why? I never thought to look for a gradient
effect, texture fill, or some other fancy fill effects in a color
dropdown. It still makes no sense to me today. I would only go there to change
the color of the shape, never looking closely at the choices at the bottom.

This is obviously bad. It's very cool, Microsoft spent many resources on its

development, yet I never enjoyed the fruits.

I can understand why the Color dropdown might have been a good place to put

Fill Effects.
It's a mutually exclusive choice.
You have exactly one choice between a colored fill, a gradient, and a texture fill.
It makes sense to use UI that chooses between them.

But why label it Color? Why not call it Effect? And this I
probably know the answer to. The vast majority of people just want to fill their

autoshape with a color, and
if it was labeled Effect, it was make this common scenario more confusing.

Design is always hard.

Comments (3)

  1. michelle says:

    how do I get more than two colors to display in the fill effects?

  2. karasik@hotmail.com says:

    Thank you very much,

    Any idea how I can apply that to a cell in microsoft excel?

    For some odd reason Microsoft Excel will only allow you to fill a cell with a single color. (no textures and no effects).


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