Text Caption or Smart Shape? Rollover Caption or Smart Shape? My struggles with these choices (written for Captivate 7)

Although my department has had Captivate all the way back to version 4, until I came along, Captivate was largely not used in our department. My first published project was created in Captivate 6 in May 2014. I was learning as I was developing, and it seemed I spent as much time reading Adobe forums, posting questions on LinkedIn, and using Google search to find out most steps. It was a rewarding challenge – Captivate brought my training alive and brought file stability in ways that I could not accomplish in Articulate.


My default text caption was Adobe Blue.

I did not have the development time to figure out some things. I don’t know whether I had the option to use smart shapes back then, but I relied heavily on text captions. They got the job done, and I worked around their limitations. I used the “Adobe Blue” caption type as my default, although the blue color did not quite match our company’s color scheme. I was careful how I sized my text objects and ultimately they were good enough. The settings worked the same for rollover text captions, making everything coordinate together well.

Now that I am working on our the maintenance round for this same online training module, I have to update images and text. This is providing me the opportunity to make some things even better than the original. However, now that I’m exploring the many wonderful features of Smart Shapes, I’m finding that I want to redo all of my captions!

Why do I feel Captivate Smart Shapes are a better choice than text captions or rollover captions? 

  1. I can add text to any Smart Shape.
  2. I can convert Smart Shapes to rollovers. This allows me to use a rollover instead of a slidelet, which is more practical in some situations.
  3. The Callout Smart Shapes – there are three – can be sized and shaped to point in any direction. These look the most like my default text caption options.
  4. Stroke and fill options can be changed for Smart Shapes – now my default is my company’s blue with a 3pt stroke – it coordinates more with our brand.
  5. I can replace an existing Smart Shape with a new shape choice. This is handy when indecisive me decides I want an arrow instead of a thought bubble (known in captivate as the rounded rectangular callout). I can also convert Smart Shapes into freeform objects and make it into any shape I can get to look right!

How Do I Do These Wonderful Things?

In the next section, I will briefly explain how I do each of the things above. I am still learning Captivate, so please chime in via the comments if you have a more efficient way to do any of these!

For each of these items, the first step is to create a Smart Shape by selecting the Smart Shape tool and drawing it on the slide.

1. Add Text to a Smart Shape

  1. Right-click on the Smart Shape
  2. Choose Add Text
    Note: Alternatively you can select the Smart Shape and then press F2

2. Convert a Smart Shape into a Rollover

  1. Right-click on the Smart Shape
  2. Choose Convert to rollover Smart Shape

3. Replace the Current Smart Shape with a New Smart Shape

  1. Right-click on the Smart Shape
  2. Choose Replace Smart Shape. A new window will display with the Smart Shapes
  3. Select the new Smart Shape

4. Change the Fill & Stroke Options of a Smart Shape

  1. Select the Smart Shape
  2. In the Properties of the Smart Shape, change the fill and stroke options.

5. Change the Shape of a Smart Shape Text Callout (Thought Bubble)

  1. Select the Smart Shape text callout.
    Note: You will see a yellow square at the pointy end of the callout. 
  2. Left-click the yellow square and drag it to where you want your callout to point.


It has taken a while to figure out what I need and want in Captivate, and it seems as soon as I have a grasp on one version, a new version of Captivate is available to learn. I hope these text tricks will help someone out that is having trouble getting the most out of text captions.

Do you know of a better way to accomplish these things? Feel free to post any tips or tricks – I am always looking for ways to be more efficient!


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