Shape(3) A class for creating Excel Drawing shapes


To create a simple Excel file containing shapes using Excel::Writer::XLSX:

use strict;
use warnings;
use Excel::Writer::XLSX;
my $workbook = Excel::Writer::XLSX->new( 'shape.xlsx' );
my $worksheet = $workbook->add_worksheet();
# Add a default rectangle shape.
my $rect = $workbook->add_shape();
# Add an ellipse with centered text.
my $ellipse = $workbook->add_shape(
type => 'ellipse',
text => "Hello\nWorld"
# Add a plus shape.
my $plus = $workbook->add_shape( type => 'plus');
# Insert the shapes in the worksheet.
$worksheet->insert_shape( 'B3', $rect );
$worksheet->insert_shape( 'C3', $ellipse );
$worksheet->insert_shape( 'D3', $plus );


The "Excel::Writer::XLSX::Shape" module is used to create Shape objects for Excel::Writer::XLSX.

A Shape object is created via the Workbook "add_shape()" method:

    my $shape_rect = $workbook->add_shape( type => 'rect' );

Once the object is created it can be inserted into a worksheet using the "insert_shape()" method:

    $worksheet->insert_shape('A1', $shape_rect);

A Shape can be inserted multiple times if required.

    $worksheet->insert_shape('A1', $shape_rect);
    $worksheet->insert_shape('B2', $shape_rect, 20, 30);


add_shape( %properties )

The "add_shape()" Workbook method specifies the properties of the Shape in hash "property => value" format:

    my $shape = $workbook->add_shape( %properties );

The available properties are shown below.

insert_shape( $row, $col, $shape, $x, $y, $scale_x, $scale_y )

The "insert_shape()" Worksheet method sets the location and scale of the shape object within the worksheet.

    # Insert the shape into the worksheet.
    $worksheet->insert_shape( 'E2', $shape );

Using the cell location and the $x and $y cell offsets it is possible to position a shape anywhere on the canvas of a worksheet.

A more detailed explanation of the "insert_shape()" method is given in the main Excel::Writer::XLSX documentation.


Any shape property can be queried or modified by the corresponding get/set method:

    my $ellipse = $workbook->add_shape( %properties );
    $ellipse->set_type( 'plus' );    # No longer an ellipse!
    my $type = $ellipse->get_type();  # Find out what it really is.

Multiple shape properties may also be modified in one go by using the "set_properties()" method:

    $shape->set_properties( type => 'ellipse', text => 'Hello' );

The properties of a shape object that can be defined via "add_shape()" are shown below.


Defines the name of the shape. This is an optional property and the shape will be given a default name if not supplied. The name is generally only used by Excel Macros to refer to the object.


Defines the type of the object such as "rect", "ellipse" or "triangle":

    my $ellipse = $workbook->add_shape( type => 'ellipse' );

The default type is "rect".

The full list of available shapes is shown below.

See also the "" program in the "examples" directory of the distro. It creates an example workbook with all supported shapes labelled with their shape names.

  • Basic Shapes

        blockArc              can            chevron       cube          decagon
        diamond               dodecagon      donut         ellipse       funnel
        gear6                 gear9          heart         heptagon      hexagon
        homePlate             lightningBolt  line          lineInv       moon
        nonIsoscelesTrapezoid noSmoking      octagon       parallelogram pentagon
        pie                   pieWedge       plaque        rect          round1Rect
        round2DiagRect        round2SameRect roundRect     rtTriangle    smileyFace
        snip1Rect             snip2DiagRect  snip2SameRect snipRoundRect star10
        star12                star16         star24        star32        star4
        star5                 star6          star7         star8         sun
        teardrop              trapezoid      triangle
  • Arrow Shapes

        bentArrow        bentUpArrow       circularArrow     curvedDownArrow
        curvedLeftArrow  curvedRightArrow  curvedUpArrow     downArrow
        leftArrow        leftCircularArrow leftRightArrow    leftRightCircularArrow
        leftRightUpArrow leftUpArrow       notchedRightArrow quadArrow
        rightArrow       stripedRightArrow swooshArrow       upArrow
        upDownArrow      uturnArrow
  • Connector Shapes

        bentConnector2   bentConnector3   bentConnector4
        bentConnector5   curvedConnector2 curvedConnector3
        curvedConnector4 curvedConnector5 straightConnector1
  • Callout Shapes

        accentBorderCallout1  accentBorderCallout2  accentBorderCallout3
        accentCallout1        accentCallout2        accentCallout3
        borderCallout1        borderCallout2        borderCallout3
        callout1              callout2              callout3
        cloudCallout          downArrowCallout      leftArrowCallout
        leftRightArrowCallout quadArrowCallout      rightArrowCallout
        upArrowCallout        upDownArrowCallout    wedgeEllipseCallout
        wedgeRectCallout      wedgeRoundRectCallout
  • Flow Chart Shapes

        flowChartAlternateProcess  flowChartCollate        flowChartConnector
        flowChartDecision          flowChartDelay          flowChartDisplay
        flowChartDocument          flowChartExtract        flowChartInputOutput
        flowChartInternalStorage   flowChartMagneticDisk   flowChartMagneticDrum
        flowChartMagneticTape      flowChartManualInput    flowChartManualOperation
        flowChartMerge             flowChartMultidocument  flowChartOfflineStorage
        flowChartOffpageConnector  flowChartOnlineStorage  flowChartOr
        flowChartPredefinedProcess flowChartPreparation    flowChartProcess
        flowChartPunchedCard       flowChartPunchedTape    flowChartSort
        flowChartSummingJunction   flowChartTerminator
  • Action Shapes

        actionButtonBackPrevious actionButtonBeginning actionButtonBlank
        actionButtonDocument     actionButtonEnd       actionButtonForwardNext
        actionButtonHelp         actionButtonHome      actionButtonInformation
        actionButtonMovie        actionButtonReturn    actionButtonSound
  • Chart Shapes

    Not to be confused with Excel Charts.

        chartPlus chartStar chartX
  • Math Shapes

        mathDivide mathEqual mathMinus mathMultiply mathNotEqual mathPlus
  • Stars and Banners

        arc            bevel          bracePair  bracketPair chord
        cloud          corner         diagStripe doubleWave  ellipseRibbon
        ellipseRibbon2 foldedCorner   frame      halfFrame   horizontalScroll
        irregularSeal1 irregularSeal2 leftBrace  leftBracket leftRightRibbon
        plus           ribbon         ribbon2    rightBrace  rightBracket
        verticalScroll wave
  • Tab Shapes

        cornerTabs plaqueTabs squareTabs


This property is used to make the shape act like a text box.

    my $rect = $workbook->add_shape( type => 'rect', text => "Hello\nWorld" );

The text is super-imposed over the shape. The text can be wrapped using the newline character "\n".


Identification number for internal identification. This number will be auto-assigned, if not assigned, or if it is a duplicate.


Workbook format for decorating the shape text (font family, size, and decoration).

start, start_index

Shape indices of the starting point for a connector and the index of the connection. Index numbers are zero-based, start from the top dead centre and are counted clockwise.

Indices are typically created for vertices and centre points of shapes. They are the blue connection points that appear when connection shapes are selected manually in Excel.

end, end_index

Same as above but for end points and end connections.

start_side, end_side

This is either the letter "b" or "r" for the bottom or right side of the shape to be connected to and from.

If the "start", "start_index", and "start_side" parameters are defined for a connection shape, the shape will be auto located and linked to the starting and ending shapes respectively. This can be very useful for flow and organisation charts.

flip_h, flip_v

Set this value to 1, to flip the shape horizontally and/or vertically.


Shape rotation, in degrees, from 0 to 360.

line, fill

Shape colour for the outline and fill. Colours may be specified as a colour index, or in RGB format, i.e. "AA00FF".

See "COLOURS IN EXCEL" in the main documentation for more information.


Line type for shape outline. The default is solid. The list of possible values is:

    dash, sysDot, dashDot, lgDash, lgDashDot, lgDashDotDot, solid

valign, align

Text alignment within the shape.

Vertical alignment can be:

    Setting     Meaning
    =======     =======
    t           Top
    ctr         Centre
    b           Bottom

Horizontal alignment can be:

    Setting     Meaning
    =======     =======
    l           Left
    r           Right
    ctr         Centre
    just        Justified

The default is to centre both horizontally and vertically.

scale_x, scale_y

Scale factor in x and y dimension, for scaling the shape width and height. The default value is 1.

Scaling may be set on the shape object or via "insert_shape()".


Adjustment of shape vertices. Most shapes do not use this. For some shapes, there is a single adjustment to modify the geometry. For instance, the plus shape has one adjustment to control the width of the spokes.

Connectors can have a number of adjustments to control the shape routing. Typically, a connector will have 3 to 5 handles for routing the shape. The adjustment is in percent of the distance from the starting shape to the ending shape, alternating between the x and y dimension. Adjustments may be negative, to route the shape away from the endpoint.


Shapes work in stencil mode by default. That is, once a shape is inserted, its connection is separated from its master. The master shape may be modified after an instance is inserted, and only subsequent insertions will show the modifications.

This is helpful for Org charts, where an employee shape may be created once, and then the text of the shape is modified for each employee.

The "insert_shape()" method returns a reference to the inserted shape (the child).

Stencil mode can be turned off, allowing for shape(s) to be modified after insertion. In this case the "insert_shape()" method returns a reference to the inserted shape (the master). This is not very useful for inserting multiple shapes, since the x/y coordinates also gets modified.


Use "$worksheet->hide_gridlines(2)" to prepare a blank canvas without gridlines.

Shapes do not need to fit on one page. Excel will split a large drawing into multiple pages if required. Use the page break preview to show page boundaries superimposed on the drawing.

Connected shapes will auto-locate in Excel if you move either the starting shape or the ending shape separately. However, if you select both shapes (lasso or control-click), the connector will move with it, and the shape adjustments will not re-calculate.


    use strict;
    use warnings;
    use Excel::Writer::XLSX;
    my $workbook  = Excel::Writer::XLSX->new( 'shape.xlsx' );
    my $worksheet = $workbook->add_worksheet();
    # Add a default rectangle shape.
    my $rect = $workbook->add_shape();
    # Add an ellipse with centered text.
    my $ellipse = $workbook->add_shape(
        type => 'ellipse',
        text => "Hello\nWorld"
    # Add a plus shape.
    my $plus = $workbook->add_shape( type => 'plus');
    # Insert the shapes in the worksheet.
    $worksheet->insert_shape( 'B3', $rect );
    $worksheet->insert_shape( 'C3', $ellipse );
    $worksheet->insert_shape( 'D3', $plus );

See also the "shapes_*.pl" program in the "examples" directory of the distro.


  • Add shapes which have custom geometries.
  • Provide better integration of workbook formats for shapes.
  • Add further validation of shape properties to prevent creation of workbooks that will not open.
  • Auto connect shapes that are not anchored to cell A1.
  • Add automatic shape connection to shape vertices besides the object centre.
  • Improve automatic shape connection to shapes with concave sides (e.g. chevron).


Dave Clarke [email protected]


(c) MM-MMXVI, John McNamara.

All Rights Reserved. This module is free software. It may be used, redistributed and/or modified under the same terms as Perl itself.