How to Work With Text in Microsoft Publisher

by David Weedmark

Microsoft Publisher 2013 gives you a lot of options for arranging text layout inside a document, in addition to text editing and formatting. These options include putting text inside text boxes, making text flow from one page to another, and putting text inside shapes and around pictures in your document.

Using Multiple Text Boxes

Insert a Text Box

Click the Insert menu and then the Draw Text Box icon. Drag the cursor where you want the text box to appear. If you place the text box along the page margins, Publisher automatically snaps the text box to align with the page margins. This may look strange the first time it happens, since the text box lines will actually overlap the page margins a bit.

Fill the Text Box

An Overflow Indicator shows  that there is too much text in the box.

Type or paste text inside the text box. Continue adding text until it no longer fits inside. As soon as the box is overfilled, an Overflow Indicator icon with three dots appears near the bottom-right corner.

Link Text Boxes

Text flows into a second text box.

Create a second text box. Click the Overflow Indicator on the first text box and then click inside the second text box. The words now flow into the second box. If needed, continue linking new text boxes across multiple pages until all of the text is visible.


  • Linked text boxes always have an arrow on the border indicating which direction the text flows into another box. Clicking the Arrow automatically selects the next text box. This is a handy feature when you have a text box on page two connected to a text box on page six.

Making Text Fit Inside the Boxes

The Character Spacing window has three options for adjusting the amount of room the text occupies, without changing the font size or line spacing.

  • Scaling stretches or shrinks the letters and the space between them horizontally. 
  • Tracking adjusts the space evenly between letters. 
  • Kerning adjusts the space between letters based on the font's style for each letter.

Open Character Spacing

Select Character Spacing.

Click inside one of the text boxes and press Ctrl-A to select all of the text. Right-click the text, select Change Text and then click Character Spacing.

Adjust the Tracking

Increase the Tracking.

Increase the Tracking to 115 percent and click Apply to see just how much more room the text can occupy with a bit more spacing added. Readjust the tracking so that the text fits into the text boxes.

Putting Text into Shapes

Add Text to a Shape

Add text to a shape.

Click the Insert menu, select Shapes and then select any shape that would be suitable for your text. Right-click the shape and change the Fill color to white if desired, then right-click it again and select Add Text. A cursor appears in the shape. Type or paste some text into the shape.

Select Format AutoShape

Select Format AutoShape.

Right-click inside the shape. Select Format AutoShape from the drop-down menu.

Select Best Fit

Click Best Fit

Click the Text Box tab in the Format AutoShape window. In the Text Autofitting section, select Best Fit. This automatically adjusts the text box size, tracking and line spacing so that the text fits neatly inside the shape.

Working Around Images

Word wrap options.

Insert an image in a page by clicking the Insert menu and selecting Picture or Online Picture. As you move the image by dragging it, or resize it by dragging a corner Handle, the text inside the text boxes adjusts to wrap around the image.

To change how the text appears around the boxes, right-click the image and select Format Picture. The Layout tab includes options to change the text wrap as well as to adjust the distance between the text and the image.

About the Author

A published author and professional speaker, David Weedmark has advised businesses and governments on technology, media and marketing for more than 20 years. He has taught computer science at Algonquin College, has started three successful businesses, and has written hundreds of articles for newspapers and magazines throughout Canada and the United States.