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When you need a specific shape and none are exactly right, you can pick a shape that’s pretty close, make a copy in your own stencil, and customize your copy of the shape. The customized shape is available in any diagram you make.

  1. Copy the master shape to a custom stencil, such as your Favorites stencil, the Document Stencil, or a new stencil.

    For information about custom stencils, see Create, save, and share custom stencils.

  2. In your custom stencil, right-click the master shape and click Edit Master > Edit Master Shape.

    A new window opens with the shape ready to edit.

  3. Make changes to the master shape. For example, use the data tools to create Shape Data fields, the Shape Styles tools on the Home tab, and the Shape Design tools on the Developer tab to make the changes you want.

  4. When you’re done, close the window. Visio asks whether you want to update the shape. Click Yes to save the changes.

Complex master shapes are usually made up of many small, simple shapes that are grouped together. You can edit those small, simple shapes, for example by changing the color or size of one or more, by following the next procedure.

Edit parts of a grouped master shape

You might think you need to ungroup a master shape to edit its parts, but that’s not true. In fact, ungrouping can cause master shapes to lose some of their useful properties. If you tried to ungroup a master, you probably saw the error “Shape protection, container, and/or layer properties prevent complete execution of this command.” Instead, use the Master Explorer window to select the parts of the grouped master that you want to change.

  1. From a custom stencil, open the master shape for editing.

  2. On the Developer tab, select Master Explorer.

    Don’t see the Developer tab? Click the File tab > Options > Customize Ribbon. In the list of main tabs, select Developer.

  3. In the Master Explorer window, expand the folders to reveal items that correspond to shapes in the master.

  4. Select items in the Master Explorer window to select them in the grouped master shape.

  5. Make changes to the selected shape.

  6. Close the window and save your changes.

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