MS Publisher Tutorial – Making Toppers & Tags

I welcome you all to my first {of many, pinkie swear} Microsoft Publisher tutorial, ever! As I gradually make more and more of my InkSpot Workshop designs in Adobe Illustrator, I figured I’d better get some of these tutorials in the works before I forget everything.

Today I’m going to teach you how to make a simple cupcake topper that can also be used as a hang tag if you wish. The purpose of this tutorial is to give you a basic knowledge of what some of the design elements in Publisher can do for you.  I encourage  you to play around with the settings you learn today and challenge you to come up with something truly unique, adorable and all your own.

I’m a self-proclaimed whiz kid when it comes to manipulating Publisher to do just about anything and everything a graphics and text lover needs. I’ve been using this program (version 2007, the newest version is 2010) for over ten years so it’s safe to say I’m pretty comfortable with it.  This is a great program for someone wanting to get started using digital clip art and text to make printed paper crafts.  Not only is it affordable, it’s super user friendly. In fact it was 1,000 times easier for me to learn than Illustrator. If I could sum it up, Publisher is great for the basics of manipulating ready made clip art, photos any images and text. Illustrator is where you have complete control over designing the graphics and clip art. Hope that makes sense.

Ready to get started? Let’s go!

Let’s start by selecting what it “is” we are going to make. Once you have opened Publisher, click on Blank Page Size, located upper left. You will see a bunch of different sized documents appear, select any one you’d like. It doesn’t matter the size because we are going to change it should the size you need not be on the list. You will also notice some pages are in px (pixel) sizes and some in inches. Let’s click on any document showing the size in inches.

Now that your document is selected, let’s resize it to make our cupcake topper. Click File-Page Setup – and when the settings box appears on your right, enter width 2.25, height 2.25 and all margins set at 0. When you are finished you should have a 2.25 inch square as shown above.

We need to add a circle, using your cursor click on the oval shape on the left and hold and drag  your mouse until you see a circle appear. Don’t worry about the size or shape we can fix that, simply right click (or double click) on your new circle and select Format Autoshape

A dialog box will appear for you to change the circle’s settings. Click the 2nd tab Size and enter 2.0 for height and 2.0 for width. You can leave everything else alone in this box. Basically what we have done is just created our 2 inch topper and from here on out our entire design will fit into it.

Now that you have your 2 inch circle, click and drag it into the center of your workspace. You can also use the up, down, left, right arrow keys if you wish. There are other alignment tricks, but for now let’s just keep it simple:)

Repeat steps above to make 2 more circles and have one measure 1.75″ and the other 1.50″

Select the outermost ring (2 inch) we are going to first change the color to gray, this is just so we know our design is not to go past the 2 inch mark.  To make line gray select the paint brush icon Line Color at the top of your toolbar and in the drop down menu select a light gray color. I like to use gray as it doesn’t get in my visual way when designing. Remember, this is just a marker for us, not part of the design.

Now we need to make this outer gray line super thin. Select the Line/Border Style icon at the top of the page and choose 1/4 inch.

Voila! You should now have a document that looks like this. The gray line is where you will eventually be punching out your topper or tag.

Now let’s have some fun with these rings. We’re going to select the middle ring and make it into dots. To do this click on the Dash Style icon at the top of your page and drop down to the line of dots. Easy, right?

You can make your dotted lines any size you’d like. Let’s make ours 3 pts. To do this click back on the Line Border Style icon at the top of the page, then select 3 pt.

We’re now going to do the same for the inner ring, let’s make those dots 2 1/4 pt.

This is where the real fun begins! Let’s add some clip art. You can use the standard library that comes pre-loaded in Microsoft Office or use any image you have saved. For this tutorial I will show you how to use the basic loaded clip art. First select Insert-Picture your choice will be from clip art {which we will use} or From A File, use if you have something saved. When the clip art box appears type your key word into the search window. I used the term “heart”.

Select the image you like and double click on it.

Click and drag your image to the center of your design. Click and drag corners to make image smaller or larger. Hint: to keep image in it’s proper porportions, use little gray boxes that appear around the image box in the corners.

Now let’s add text! Click the “A” on the left tool bar, this for Word Art. The Word Art gallery will appear, select the basic arch shaped text shown in the top row. I never use any of the other options.

A box will appear where you may select the font you’d like to use.  Type whatever you’d like to have positioned onto the top portion of your topper. Don’t worry about the size of the font.

Don’t worry about the way your text looks right now. It all get’s changed with the simple click and drag of your mouse.

Click on the text you just placed and you will see a box appear with little yellow diamonds, that’s when you know the text is selected. With your cursor, click and drag the yellow diamonds until you like the shape of your text. If you want to change the depth of the arch and how far down the text reaches onto your topper, use the squares that appear around the box of text. This will take some practice and is the only real challenging part of using rounded text in Publisher.

Do the same to create a bottom layer of text. First select your top line of text (yellow diamonds showing) and right click, copy and paste.  Now select the text you just copied, when the Word Art box appears, choose A Word Art Shape, and select the facing upward arch. Resize this line of text the same way as  you did for the top. Double click the text box to change what the text says.

You may have to resize the clipart image in order for the text to appear the size you want it.

Ready for my favorite part? COLOR! We are now going to change the color of our dotted lines. First select the middle circle, then click on the paint brush icon again Line Tool and select the eyedropper Sample Line Color. Your cursor is now an eyedropper and this means whatever you select with the eyedropper your line will turn that color.  Choose the red found in the heart. This tool is super handy when I’m making a design for someone and they want me to match a color from a picture.

Repeat the steps above for the innermost line and with the eyedropper tool choose the pink from the heart.

Now that your dotted lines are the same pink and red from the heart flower, let’s have some fun with the text. First click the line of text you want to change (yellow diamonds appear meaning text box is selected) Now right click and the Word Art box appears. Click the paintbrush box Format Word Art and here is where you can change the word colors. Click the drop down box and you will see the colors already being used in your design, let’s pick red. We don’t want our letters to have an outline so make the line weight 0. When you are finished do the same for the bottom line of text.

This is now what your design should look like. If you are having any strange overlapping issues where your dots are behind your clipart or text or vice versa. Simply select the object where you are having an issue and change the positioning by clicking ALT + F6 to bring image or line to the font.

Let’s get rid of the gray line now so we don’t accidentally print it. To do this select the gray line and then click the paint brush Line Color tool and choose No Line at the top of the menu.

There you have it!

Here’s the printable file just in case you wanted to cheat a little:) Shh, I won’t tell anyone.

Click here to download

I hope you enjoyed this MS Publisher Tutorial and make some super cute toppers and tags. I’d love to see what you come up with, please send pictures to  info at inkspotworkshop dot com. Or post to my Facebook fan page by clicking here.

Happy Designing!

73 Responses to MS Publisher Tutorial – Making Toppers & Tags

  1. Selina says:

    Thank you so much for sharing!!! They came out so cute. I’m not gonna cheat, I’ll be following your tutorial to create some just like yours. I’m more than sure this particular post took a great amount of time and work. Thanks again!!!

    • stacy says:

      It was a labor of ♥

      • Selina says:


        how did you do the printable file? 12 on one page. and how do i save the document so that i can post a pic on my FB. it’s called paper passion. check it out!

        • stacy says:

          The only way to do the formatting for a printable file is to copy and paste. Then you save your document as a .png or .pdf file which makes it a “picture” now and you can post on Facebook or the web or anywhere. I don’t suggest saving as a .jpeg since you will have text and .jpeg images are better for photographs, no words.

  2. Renee Armour says:

    Excited to see this! They’re so cute..I’m totally challenged in this area so tutorials are great!! And I do have say, you are one
    se—erious blogger. Good stuff.

  3. Valerie says:

    How do you place them all in a sheet for printing? Is there an easier way than cuting and pasting?

    • stacy says:

      Click File, print and your print dialog box will appear allowing you to print either 1 or multiple copies on a sheet. It’s based upon your printer and your print driver.

  4. This is such a great tutorial! I can’t wait to try my hand at some printables now.

  5. Jennifer says:

    Hi Stacy,
    How do you create the document in publisher to add your logo & the wording on top/bottom of the page? Where you put the info for toppers or tags…. & this file is for personal use only….? I have tried to do that & have NO idea how!!!!

    Thanks so much,

    • stacy says:

      You need to insert a text box for the wording on the page and assuming you have your logo saved as a .png or .jpeg file insert it by clicking File-Insert Picture-From File. Hope that helps

  6. Lindy says:

    Wow, this was great! I love Publisher but I have to admit I learned a couple things here that I didn’t know. I know Illustrator is the way to go for many designers but my palms sweat when I start working in it :-) Thank you!

  7. sofia says:

    thank you thank you thank you sooooo much!!
    I was struggling trying to create some nice label and….it’s so easy!!! I even didn’t know that I had Publisher in my PC!!!
    Thank you very much for sharing with us this tutorial :-)
    ciao from Italy

  8. I finally know how to use the eyedropper tool…THANKS!

  9. stacy says:

    I’m sooo tickled by all of your responses and your enthusiasm! Be sure to post the fruits of your creative labor on my FB page!!

  10. keecam says:

    THANK U so very very much for this tutorial! Man did it help! So anyway, I ceated my first tag/topper and when I went to print preview, it’s showing it in black and white, not colored! :( What am I doing wrong? It’s in full color when I created it. Thanks again and again!

    • stacy says:

      It sounds like your print driver and you need to tinker around with it to see. Some print drivers show the preview in B+W but it prints just fine, it’s more to show you the placement vs the color. Be sure to post your topper on my FB page so we all can see!

  11. Michelle says:

    Thank you so much for this tutorial! I was having such a hard time trying to make these in PSE. So glad to know how easy it is to do in Publisher. One thing I noticed is that when I use the 2″ Scallop Circle punch, I do not see much of my patterned background. What size circles do you suggest so that more of it will show? Should it be 1.4, 1.6, 2.0?

  12. Alyssa says:

    I have a Mac and I can’t download Publisher, is there any suggestions or tutorials like this one? I’d really love the help.. :)

  13. Alyssa says:

    Thanks, I’ll try the free trial on that site. I appreciate it! :)

  14. Alyssa says:

    I was able to create a topper based off your instructions and using the mac version of publisher you referred above. There are a bit of differences, but I got the gist of it. I can’t figure out how to multiply the images (without having to copy/paste) and the dashes seem to be squares instead of dots. Maybe it’s because it’s just a trial version. This has helped though, thanks for putting this together.

  15. heather says:

    thanks so much, this was so helpful. i will post my st. patricks ones on fb.

  16. Fernanda says:

    Thanks so much…you explain so well!!

    If it is not too much, may I ask for some idea as to how to make the cupcake wrappers on pub? I have inserted a template in jpg format, but I only cannot change the colors inside the shape. I tried to draw it and it was horrible:

    Thanks again for the tutorial!

    • stacy says:

      Glad you found this tutorial useful:) I have not yet made wrappers in publisher. One of the limitations of Publisher is changing the shapes that are imported from a different file, this is where Adobe Illustrator works best. In Publisher you can only change the colors of the shapes you have made with their shape tools and they are limited and do not connect together to make 1 large shape.

  17. Lucinda says:

    Hi I have clip art that is square shaped how do I make it fit in the circle sorry dumb question. I’m new to all this. Thank you.

    • stacy says:

      you will have to shrink it until it fits nicely in the circle. To do this place your cursor on one of the 4 corners and drag so the square gets porportionally smaller. Hope that helps.

  18. willow burse says:

    Hello, Stacy. I was wondering if you can import a digital scrapbook paper in the background, to give it a different look. For example, zebra print then dots around. If so, how would I go about doing that, definitely a beginner at this stuff. Thanking you kindly.

    • stacy says:

      Sure, simply double click on the shape you want to fill, in this case it can be adding another circle or even a square. Then under the first tab where it says fill color, click the drop down to “fill effects” and select a picture. The picture is the pattern you want to fill with. Always make sure both boxes are checked regarding picture ratio too. Enjoy and be sure to post your final pics on my facebook page so we can see what you made:) Have fun

  19. julianna says:

    thanks a lot for sharing!!! I have a little request can you please please please teach us how to make the water bottle labels :D

    • stacy says:

      That’s simple! All you need to do is make your document the size you want the labels and make your design within that space. This is true for anything you choose to make.

  20. Jeanine says:

    Hi Stacy,

    Can’t wait to use this. I will have to order 07, since I only have 97 and it doesn’t have the dots. I was going to buy 07 can I use the old version or do I need to get the revised version?

  21. caryn wooster says:

    THANK YOU THANK YOU I have been trying to design toppers on WORD and it’s very difficult with the text and images not wanting to work together! I am wondering if you can tell me what to do if I need 12 toppers, same design but need each to contain a different name for the girls attending the party – is that possible or must they all print out the same on a sheet? Thanks so much again!!!!!

    • stacy says:

      So glad you found this useful! The printing has everything to do with the version you have. I have 2007 and in the print driver it allows me to print “multiple pages” and that’s how I do it. You want to create a topper, then “insert duplicate page” and change out the wording. Eventually you will have a document with several pages (each representing the different changes you made) Then click “print multiple pages on a page” and that’s how you get a page that contains different images, not all the same. Hope that helps.

  22. Bel says:

    I just found your website. Such beautiful work. I’m wondering what kind of printer do you use to print these tags and your cards. I have an old colored printer and the colors just doesn’t look as good as what you show on your pictures. BTW, do you also take your own photos you have on your sites? Amazing! Thank you for sharing.

  23. Lara says:

    Hi I was wondering if you know how to edit text in an image. For example, I see people are able to change the name in the sesame street box to fit their needs. How do I do that? BTW – this tutorial rocks!. I’ve been searching for something literally for 2 days and finally came upon this and I’ve created all my toppers for my twin’s 1st party. Thanks a lot!

  24. ana says:

    Hi, just stopping by to say that your tutorial is just wonderful!! I’ve been trying to do these toppers with no success, now is way easier!! Thank you so much for sharing. Also, I’d love to congratulate you on your shop, it’s beautiful and inspiring!! Way to go girl!!BTW, I’m from Atlanta/GA too, living in Lawrenceville.
    About your last post, I think the lady wants to customize some brands, like changing the name from ” ‘sesame’ street” to ” ‘john’ street” with out changing the design.

  25. Jeanine says:

    Hi Stacy, THANK YOU so very much for your tutorial. Boy I looked a LOOONG time for a tutorial on this. I would love to start a business doing these and feel as though I am chasing my tail. May I ask you a question? How do you align everything up so it looks even when you are designing a circle. My looks “off”. Thank you again and I love your site you are such an inspiration to me!

  26. nae says:

    thanks for the step by step tutorial. i’ve been buying diy cupcake toppers from etsy and they’ve been a bit costly. we have so many b-days parties in my family. so i thought i should learn how to make them myself. but first i need to buy the program. i had no clue what and how to get started. im saving this website and then will give it a try. thanks soooo much!

  27. Jen says:

    I hardly ever leave comments on blogs. But I found this tutorial via a google search. I have always just bought digital files of party circles for bday parties, showers, etc. But your tutorial was super helpful!! I can totally make these myself! Thanks!

    • stacy says:

      Thank you for your sweet comment! I would love to see what you come up with, be sure to leave a post on my facebook page. Have fun!

  28. Laney says:

    Thank you for the awesome tutorial. I have a question. Your tutorial shows how to print it but how about cutting out the tags?
    I’ve been trying to figure out how to make my own favor tags and cupcake toppers and have been unsuccessful in research.
    Thank you again!

  29. Tina says:

    Thank you so much for this tutorial!!! It was a huge help and sooo easy! I made several different sport design toppers in minutes! No more searching the web for exactly what I need, just create my own!! Thanks, again!

  30. Kristin says:

    You just made my day with this tutorial! Thank you for sharing. I am so excited to try this out for my childrens’ upcoming birthdays.
    Many thanks,

  31. Anita says:

    THank you so much for sharing! i have been trying to figure out how to make these and you have just saved me so much time!!!!

  32. LaVonne says:

    I just found your tutorial/site! I’m so excited! Thanks so much for sharing! :)

  33. Olivia says:

    THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!!! this was soooo easy to understand!

  34. Chris says:

    Thank you! sooooooo much! I have been trying to locate a tutorial for so long now and finally came across yours and it is so clear!!

  35. Hannah says:

    Wow! How a wonderful tutorial! Thank you so much for taking te time to doing this and sharing it! The cupcakes toppers are really cute! :)

  36. Jennifer says:

    I just wanted to say THANK YOU for taking the time to post this tutorial! I’ve been searching for a tutorial like this for days now and finally stumbled upon yours! The directions are so easy to follow. I am happy to say I made my 1st cupcake toppers today! I can’t wait to use them for my daughters 2nd b-day party. Thanks again!

  37. kristine says:

    You are my saviour thank you so very much for makeing this tutorial i have looked every where for something like this and as i didn’t know how to do anything except horazontal line designs you have saved me hundreds of £’s on soft ware and printers so thank you again.

  38. heather says:

    this is an awesome tutorial, thank you so much! i have searched everywhere for something like this!!!!

  39. Kendra says:

    I am so glad I cam across this site! You were such a big help. I do have one question for you and hope you can help! I’m using publisher 10 and I can’t seem to find the basic wordart that you are using. Am I looking over it or do you know how I can get in on there?

  40. Kim says:

    Thank you so much for sharing! I used Publisher at work and knew this was possible but your guidance was much appreciated!!! Now the possibilities are endless. Thanks!

  41. Angela Butner says:

    Just wanted to Say thanks for the tutorial.. I loved what I created today.. Very simple and a great new tool to add to my designs.

  42. Rhonda Hunt says:

    Just want to THANK YOU for keeping this older post up. I often want to bend words for different publications I write and yours is the only info I’ve found that’s understandable and complete! I just wish I had more than 5 font types in my MS Pub WordArt. You’re sweet to share! Rhonda

  43. Michelle says:

    Thanks!!!! I REALLY needed this! I am a visual learner and this perfect!

  44. Marcy says:

    Oh my gosh this tutorial was wonderful!!!!!! All I needed was the basics and I don’t have any program besides Publisher to make cute (simple) labels with, and I don’t want to spend money on a program just to make labels and tags and such. This was EXACTLY what I’ve been looking for because I’ll be able to use this basic design and adjust it slightly for my labeling!! THANK YOU! =)

  45. Lenita says:

    Thanks so much!! I did a bath time theme for my sons first birthday and could not find any cupcake toppers that I liked. Now I can use these instructions for whatever themes I desire in the future! very easy, and simple to follow through with the steps