Creating upside down or rotated text in Word

Article contributed by Dave Rado and Suzanne S. Barnhill

Unfortunately, unlike PowerPoint, Word does not allow you to rotate or flip text. Even if you create a text box, rotate or flip it in PowerPoint and paste it into Word as an MS Office Drawing Object, it comes into Word the right way up – thus proving that there's no such thing as an MS Office Drawing Object; there are PowerPoint drawing objects, and there are Word drawing objects. However, there are a number of workarounds for this.

Using two table cells

If you want to print something like a card that needs to be folded in half, with half of it therefore needing to be upside down, set your page up as landscape, create a single row, 2-cell borderless table, drag the row-height so that it fills the page, and set the Text Direction (right-click menu) of each cell to vertical orientations; one cell going bottom-to-top, and the other cell going top-to-bottom. And you're done.

Word 2002 and later: Rotating a picture of your text

You can use the following procedure:

  1. Type the text you want to rotate; select it; Cut, and Paste Special As Picture.
  2. Make the picture Floating, if it isn't already (e.g. choose Text Wrapping on the Picture toolbar and change the wrapping to something other than In Line With Text”.)
  3. If you click on the picture, you can now free-rotate it, or flip it, or rotate left or right, or set the rotation to a specific angle using the Format + Picture dialog.

Be aware, though, that if you send your Word document to someone who is using an earlier version of Word than version 2002, the picture (and the text in it) will no longer be rotated. So if you want back-compatibility, you will need to use one of the other methods described below.

You will not lose any print quality by pasting as a picture in this way, because the text in the picture is stored internally as text (albeit uneditable), not as curves.

It is also possible to rotate ot flip the picture in Word 2002 while the picture is Inline. This (undocumented) feature creates a strange hybrid graphic, part Floating, part Inline. For more details, see: Inline-Floating hybrid graphics in Word 2002.

Pasting from PowerPoint into Word as a picture

For most requirements, probably the simplest workaround is to create your rotated or flipped text in PowerPoint text boxes, and paste them into Word as pictures.

Having created the text box(es), select Format + Text Box, and on the Text Box tab, set all the internal margins to 0, and also turn off Word wrap text in autoshape. This will prevent any unnecessary white space from appearing when you paste into Word. Then type your text, rotate or flip them as desired using the Draw menu on the Drawing toolbar. Now, copy the  text box(es), and in Word, select Paste Special As Picture – or slightly better, As Picture (Enhanced Metafile). Make sure you paste it in inline. And you're done.

Note that you will not lose any print quality by pasting as a picture in this way, because the text in the picture is stored internally as text (albeit uneditable), and not as curves. But don't use a bitmap editor (such as Photoshop or Paintshop Pro) to create your upside down text, because that will reduce the print quality of your text, unless you save the graphic at a very high resolution indeed (and doing that would mean a large file size, so it's far better to use a vector package such as PowerPoint).

Of course, because it has been pasted into Word as a picture, it is no longer editable; so it's a good idea to keep a PowerPoint boilerplate file in which to store the originals. Then, if you ever need to edit them, you can do so into PowerPoint, and paste back into Word as a picture. 

If you want to do it programmatically
You may need to insert upside down text programmatically. For example, you may have a Label template with an AutoNew macro in which you capture the text to be inserted from a UserForm or a database; and part of the label gets folded back; so that some of the text, such as the title or company name, needs to be upside down on the back of the fold. For this, you could use something like the code sample at How to control PowerPoint from Word.

Unfortunately, unless PowerPoint is already open when your macro starts, this is quite a slow way of doing it (because of the time taken to open PowerPoint): On the other hand, if you have more than one location in the document in which you need to insert rotated text, this overhead will only apply once, provided you don't quit PowerPoint until all of your pictures have been pasted in.  

Pasting from other vector graphics applications

You don't need to use PowerPoint, of course, you could use other vector applications, such as Visio, CorelDraw. and so on. I find PowerPoint easier for this sort of thing, though. Also, Visio does not support commonly used typographical characters – such as dashes and smartquotes.

Visio does have one advantage over using PowerPoint, however; if you paste a Visio text box into Word as a Visio object, it retains its rotation; so you could keep it in Word as an editable object (although only editable by people who also have the same or a higher version of Visio). However, OLE objects – even Visio ones, although Visio objects are better-behaved than most – will slow down your documents significantly, and increase the risk of document corruption; so should be used only if really needed.

CorelDraw images should never be pasted into Word as objects, only as pictures, because CorelDraw objects will quickly bring your documents grinding to a halt.

If you want to do it programmatically
Most vector applications cannot be automated from within Word. Visio can, but not nearly as easily as PowerPoint, as it has no macro recorder

Using Word Art

The versions of WordArt that came with Word 2 through Word 95 were very useful indeed, allowing you to create rotated or flipped text that looked exactly like ordinary text other than being rotated or flipped.

Unfortunately, in Word 97 and higher, this was replaced with a very different application, which can only produce fancy text. It's great for party invites, but not for serious use. Also, WordArt in Word 97 and higher can only be inserted as a Floating object; in order to make it Inline, you have to Cut, and Paste Special As Picture.

If (like me) you still have one of the pre-Word 97 versions of WordArt installed, you can still use it; choose Insert + Object, and select Microsoft WordArt. I use Word 6 WordArt even more than I use PowerPoint, for creating things like rotated watermarks, and so on.

If you want to do it programmatically
Although I have written programs in the past that activate a Word 6 WordArt object and fill it with text using SendKeys, one couldn't use such code unless all one's users had Word 6 WordArt installed, an unlikely scenario, these days.

If, despite the utter garishness of the text produced by Word 97 WordArt and higher, you want to create upside down or rotated WordArt text programmatically, you can use something like the following:

Sub InsertWordArtWatermark()

Dim MyRange As Range, oShape As Shape
Set MyRange = ActiveDocument.Sections(1).Headers(wdHeaderFooterPrimary). _

Set oShape = ActiveDocument.Sections(1). _
        Headers(wdHeaderFooterPrimary).Shapes.AddTextEffect _
        (PresetTextEffect:=msoTextEffect11, _
        Text:="Confidential", _
        FontName:="Arial", _
        FontSize:=60, _
        FontBold:=False, _
        FontItalic:=False, _
        Left:=0#, _
        Top:=0#, _

With oShape
    .RelativeHorizontalPosition =  wdRelativeHorizontalPositionPage
    .RelativeVerticalPosition = wdRelativeVerticalPositionPage
    .Left = InchesToPoints(2)
    .Top = InchesToPoints(4.5)
    .Fill.ForeColor.RGB = RGB(128, 128, 128)
    .Line.ForeColor.RGB = RGB(128, 128, 128)
    .Line.BackColor.RGB = RGB(27, 27, 27)
    .Shadow.ForeColor.RGB = RGB(51, 51, 51)
    .IncrementRotation -45
    .WrapFormat.Type = wdWrapNone
    .ZOrder msoSendBehindText
End With

End Sub

And just for the sake of completeness ...

Some people also create upside-down text using PostScript print fields. That method, however, is as intuitive as an Altair computer, creates documents that are near-impossible to maintain, and requires anyone you ever send your documents to to have a PostScript printer – so I wouldn't recommend it.