Network Diagrams: Rotating Text on a Line

Text on Line

You can draw line, then double click and add some text to the line.


But what you really want is to have the text at right angles to the line so that get some meaning from it. Consider the following example where the interface names have been added to the lines for a physical / VLAN diagram.


Rotate the Text

SO what we really want is to be able to rotate the text so that it is perpendicular to the joining lines.


And now we have something much more appealing and relevant.


When the text box isn’t the right size or the right angle

One problem with this technique is that Once you put a dot or full stop on the line that text automatically wraps around or that the text boox is not quite the right size for the text you want to put there. This diagram shows the text wrapping when a full stop is added:


Using the Text Block Tool

Changing the font to a smaller size and using Arial Narrow is usually good enough but the best alternative is to use the Text Block tool. Select the line or object before you head to the menu, select the Text and click the drop arrow on the right of the button:


which will then put resize bars on the object – like so:


This text block tool not only allows you to resize the text width, but also to rotate it to non-standard angles. By grabbing the round green dot with your mouse, you can rotate the text box to any angle you want.


And you can change the width of the text box by grabbing the green squares:


There are some related tips to formatting the text background in this article which you might want to look at.

Suggestions on using this technique

I tend to use this a lot when drawing diagrams that need to capture the physical information such as switch port numbers and router/firewall interface names. The combination Layer 1/2 information is really useful for network diagrams.


Big thanks to Ray and Marko in the comments for the tip about the Text Block Tool which I didn’t know about. I have updated the post with this detail.

Other Posts in A Series On The Same Topic

  1. Free Custom Handwriting Font for Network Designs (14th August 2014)
  2. Network Diagrams: Font Selection and Production Context. Choosing Slab or Thin fonts (9th June 2014)
  3. Book Release: Tips on Using Visio To Make Network Diagrams (27th March 2014)
  4. Network Diagrams: Drawing Overlay Network Layers (14th March 2014)
  5. Network Diagrams: Choosing Better and Free Fonts (10th January 2014)
  6. My New Diagram Colour Scheme "Old Disco Style" (24th September 2013)
  7. On Diagrams and Information (10th September 2013)
  8. Colour Blindness, Network Diagrams and Reliability (3rd March 2011)
  9. Designer or Engineer, Artist or Painter (19th January 2010)
  10. Network Diagrams: Rotating Text on a Line (1st October 2009)
  11. Network Diagrams: Tips for Printing from Visio (22nd September 2009)
  12. Network Diagrams:Zones on a diagram with Visio shape union (31st July 2009)
  13. Network Diagrams: Drawing complex VLAN Networks with IP Addressing (7th July 2009)
  14. Network Diagrams: Drawing Freehand Curves (and then fixing them) (23rd March 2009)
  15. Network Diagrams:Aligning Shapes (12th March 2009)
  16. Network Diagrams:Locking the Background Shape (10th March 2009)
  17. Network Diagrams: Labelling an VLAN/IP Segment (9th March 2009)
  18. Network Diagrams: VLANs and IP Subnets (8th March 2009)
  19. Network Diagrams: Drawing the Background Shape (6th March 2009)
  20. On the Art of Network Diagrams and Presentation (4th March 2009)
  • Marko Milivojevic

    You can change the default size of the text field by using the text tool. Click and hold the text button on toolbar. You will get another sub-toolbar. Choose that and click on object you wish to modify. When you select the object, you will be able to modify the size of its embedded text object.

    It’s a shame one can’t attach pictures to comments – it would be easier to explain this with a single pic.

    • Greg Ferro


      I got it. Thanks, will update the article soonish.

  • Ray

    Wow Greg, after reading some of your other Visio tips (which were excellent by the way) I thought you knew every Visio trick going.

    What you need is the “Text Block Tool”. I’m not aware of a way to access it from the menus or context menu (right click) but in my installation you can find it by clicking the small down arrow next to the “A” (Text Tool) towards the right hand end of the Standard tool bar. You should see an A with an arrow around it labelled “Text Block Tool”. Select that.

    You can then select an object and the associated text will have it’s own green dotted box appear. This allows you to move, resize and orientate the text independently of the ‘parent’ object. I find this very useful to avoid the word-wrap issue you describe, making text appear horizontal on a slightly angled line and making text appear above/below/beside an object.

    It can also help with the problem you describe in Net≠work Dia≠grams: Labelling an VLAN/?IP Segment.

    • Greg Ferro

      Excellent, found it and used it. Thanks Ray.

      Hey, you can’t know everything and this blog is one way of asking for help. Will update in the next day or so.

  • Pete

    Hey Greg,

    Just wanted to say thanks for all the useful Visio tips here. I’ve been using Visio for years and living with a load of frustrations….. only to find out the solutions were there if only I’d RTFM. Anyway, reading all this has been very useful and will save me hours in future. Thanks!