Enhance Message Content in Microsoft Outlook 2010

  • 6/29/2010

Creating and Formatting Business Graphics

Images can be especially valuable in business communications, when you need to clearly explain facts or concepts, particularly to a global audience. In Outlook 2010 (and other Office 2010 programs), you can depict relationships, processes, cycles, hierarchies, and so on, by creating SmartArt graphics, and you can depict graphical representations of data by creating charts.

You can create a SmartArt graphic directly in an e-mail message or you can convert an existing list into a SmartArt graphic. When sending a message, Outlook converts any SmartArt graphics within the message to static graphics.

You can create a chart directly in an e-mail message. Charts you create in an Outlook message look exactly like those you would create in an Excel workbook—because they are based on an Excel data source that is created from within Outlook.

To create a chart in a message or other Outlook item, follow these steps:

  1. Position the cursor in the pane where you want the picture to appear.

  2. On the Insert tab, in the Illustrations group, click the Insert Chart button.

    The Insert Chart dialog box opens.


    Click to view larger image

    You can filter the available chart types by choosing a category from the left pane.

  3. In the Insert Chart dialog box, locate the type of chart you want to create. Click the chart icon, and then click OK.

    A basic chart appears in the Outlook item, and several Chart Tools contextual tabs become active on the ribbon. An Excel program window opens, containing the mock data from which the basic chart is built.


    Click to view larger image

    Changes you make to the data are immediately reflected in the chart.

  4. Update the mock data with your own. When you finish, close the Excel window.

    It’s not necessary to save or name the worksheet that contains the data depicted by the chart.

When you want to send a chart depicting important data, it’s safer to store the data in an Excel worksheet, create a chart in the Excel workbook from the data, and then embed that chart in an e-mail message.

In this exercise, you’ll create a SmartArt flowchart in an e-mail message.

  1. Maximize the message window, and then click in the content pane.

  2. httpatomoreillycomsourcemspimages1123588.jpg On the Insert tab, in the Illustrations group, click the SmartArt button.

    The Choose A SmartArt Graphic dialog box opens.


    Click to view larger image

    You can filter the contents of the dialog box by clicking the categories in the left pane.

  3. Scroll through the center pane of the dialog box for an overview of the available SmartArt graphics.

  4. In the left pane, click Process. Scroll to the top of the center pane and click the second icon in the second row (Alternating Flow).

    This is a process diagram showing the details of a three-step process.


    Click to view larger image

    A preview and description of the selected SmartArt graphic appear in the right pane.

  5. In the Choose a Smart Art Graphic dialog box, click OK.

    Outlook inserts a basic version of the selected process diagram in the content pane. It looks similar to the preview graphic, but without the colors and three-dimensional aspects. (You select formatting options later.) The Text pane opens and the two SmartArt Tools contextual tabs, Design and Format, appear on the ribbon.


    Click to view larger image

    In the Text pane to the right of the graphic, you can build a hierarchical list that transfers content to the graphic.

    httpatomoreillycomsourcemspimages1123596.jpg httpatomoreillycomsourcemspimages1123598.jpgYou can enter text in the Text pane or directly in the graphic—selecting a graphic element or positioning the insertion point within the bulleted list also selects the corresponding element in the graphic or Text pane. The graphic name is shown at the bottom of the Text pane; pointing to it displays a ScreenTip describing the purpose of the current type of graphic.

  6. In the Text pane, click the [Text] placeholder to the right of the first bullet, and then type Plan.

    As you type in the pane, the text appears in the diagram.

  7. Click the [Text] placeholder to the right of the first second-level (indented) bullet, and type Survey current customers. Press the Down Arrow key to move to the next second-level bullet, and then type Survey potential customers.

    The font size in the graphic adjusts to fit the text into the available space.

  8. Press Enter to create another second-level bullet in the Text pane and in the graphic, and then type Analyze competition.

  9. In the diagram, click the second solid blue box to select the placeholder, and then type Define.

    As you type, the text also appears in the second first-level bullet in the Text pane.

  10. In the third solid blue box, type Design.

  11. httpatomoreillycomsourcemspimages1123600.jpg On the Design contextual tab, in the Create Graphic group, click the Add Shape arrow (not the button) and then, in the list, click Add Shape After.

    An additional item appears at the right end of the diagram and in the Text pane.

    You can add shapes above, below, before, or after the selected shape, depending on the diagram layout.

  12. In the new solid blue box, type Develop.

  13. In the Text pane, click at the end of the word Develop, and then press Enter.

    A first-level bullet and additional shape appear.


    You can easily add to the structure of a SmartArt graphic.

  14. httpatomoreillycomsourcemspimages1123604.jpg Type Test and then, in the Text pane, click the Close button.

    At its current size, the text within the diagram is very difficult to read.

  15. Point to the move handle (the vertical line of four dots) on the right side of the diagram. When the pointer becomes a double-headed arrow, drag the move handle to the right so that the diagram fills the width of the message window.

  16. httpatomoreillycomsourcemspimages1122858.jpg In the Layouts gallery, click the More button.

    The Layouts gallery expands.


    The Layouts gallery.

  17. In the Layouts gallery, point to a few of the icons to preview the effect of the SmartArt graphic layout on your content. Then click the second layout in the second row (Continuous Block Process).

    The process diagram layout changes, as do the styles available on the Design tab.


    Click to view larger image

    The content is reconfigured to fit the new layout.

  18. In the SmartArt Styles gallery, click the More button.

    The SmartArt Styles gallery expands.


    The SmartArt Styles gallery.

  19. In the SmartArt Styles gallery, point to a few of the icons to preview the effect of the style on your graphic. Then in the 3-D section, click the first icon (Polished).

  20. httpatomoreillycomsourcemspimages1123612.jpg In the SmartArt Styles group, click the Change Colors button.

    The Change Colors gallery expands.


    The colors shown in the gallery change to match the colors specified by the active theme.

    The color schemes displayed in the Change Colors gallery are variations of the current theme colors, and they are organized in groups that reflect the six thematic accent colors. Changing the theme also changes the color schemes in the gallery.

  21. In the Change Colors gallery, point to a few of the icons to preview the effect of the color scheme on your graphic. Then under Colorful, click the second icon (Colorful Range – Accent Colors 2 to 3).

    The color scheme of the graphic changes to match your selection.

  22. In the message header, enter your e-mail address in the To box, and enter SBS Development Cycle in the Subject box. Then send the message.

    When you receive the message, the SmartArt graphic is visible in the Reading Pane. Regardless of the size at which you created the graphic, the entire graphic is visible in the Reading Pane.

  23. Open the message, and click the SmartArt graphic.

    The SmartArt graphic has been converted to a static image. If you open the message from your Sent Items folder, you’ll find that the same is true of the graphic in that message.


Click to view larger image

The graphic resizes with the message window.