Microsoft Word doesn’t permit changing the direction of normal paragraph text.

However, it does permit you to change the direction of text in case of Tables, shapes or text boxes. Whether you want to change the text from Vertical to Horizontal or vice versa, it’s possible with shapes and tables.

With that being said, I’ll demonstrate how you can leverage tables, shapes or text boxes to change text directions in Word.

Change text direction in Shapes

To change text direction in Word using shapes or text boxes, obey the following instructions.

First insert a rectangular shape or text box that will contain the text. If you don’t know the steps to insert shapes in Word, follow the steps below:

  • Click on the Insert tab.
  • Click on the Shapes Button in the Illustrations group.
  • Select and draw the rectangle shape.

This shape will contain the text. Don’t worry if you have a colored shape, I’ll soon show you how to remove the shape border and color shading so that it wont be visible.

First, insert the shape to contain the text
  • Right-Click on the rectangle and select Add Text.
Right-Click on the Shape and click on Edit text
  • Now type your text inside the shape.
Enter your text inside the shape - how to change text direction in Word

The remaining steps will now show you how to change the text direction in word.

  • The simplest way is to click and drug the rotate icon of the shape. (see screenshot)
Change Text Direction in Word Illustration

For another way to change the text direction in the shape, continue with the steps below.

  • Click on the Drawing Tool Format tab
  • In the Text group, click on the Text Direction button.
how to change text direction in Word
  • From the drop-down list, select how you want the text direction to be. If you don’t like the 90° or 270° rotation, click on the Text Direction options for more options.
how to change text direction in Word

As you change the text direction, the shape size will automatically scale to accommodate your text. You may have to also adjust the shape afterward to make the text in the shape more presentable.

NOTE: The above steps can also be used to change text direction in text boxes in Word.

  • Remove the shape color and border.

If you are new to shapes in Word, you might have problem removing the shape border and shading. If the border and shading is ok for you then ignore this step.

To remove the inside shading of the shape, click on the shape and go to the Drawing Tool Format tab. In the shapes style group, click on Shape Fill and select No Fill.

how to change text direction in Word

This will remove the color shading inside the shape.

In this case, you should change the text color in the shape to black. White text may become invisible on a white background.

Change text direction in Word using Tables

Text in a table must not always flow from left to right.

So, to change the text direction in in a table, obey the instructions below:

  • Click inside the cell containing the text you want to change direction.
  • If you want to change the text direction of a group of cells, select this group of cells by clicking and dragging over the cells.
Click in the table cell containing the text
  • Click on the Table Tools Layout tab.
  • In the Alignment group, click on the Text Direction button.
Go to Table Tools>Layout
  • Each time you click on the Text Direction button, the text changes direction by 90 degrees.
change text direction in Word horizontal or vertical
  • Keep on clicking on this button until you are pleased with the text direction.

As you change the text direction, the cell size will automatically scale to accommodate your text. You may have to also adjust the rows and columns afterward to make your table fit to be seen.