Create Excel shape from MapInfo *OR* make picture background transparent?

Mar 23, 2004
Hi all.

Further to an original thread (, I have a question regarding shapes and images in Excel.

Basically, I'm trying to make a map of 14 regions where each region changes brightness depending on values in the worksheets. I think I've got this bit sorted. I'm planning on creating the map using a collection of tessellated shapes or images, and using VBA to alter the properties of each one to create a dynamic map.

The output of the individual maps from MapInfo, our GIS software, is in .png or .jpg. format, and come with a white background. Is there any way to either make the background transparent so multiple shapes can be tessellated effectively, or a way to crop the image to the area's border?

Either that, or does someone know a way to output from MapInfo in such a way to make this possible? (Granted, it's a long shot, but you can't blame a guy for trying...)

Any help would be immensely appreciated. Sorry if I've not explained it well, but hopefully you'll get the drift. :)



Well-known Member
Mar 20, 2007

Not sure if this helps (As im not sure i understand the question).....

But if its the same problem i have (Which im not sure it is :) )...

To 'cut away' the background i use the crop tool in Microsoft paint as rather than just cropping the size, i can crop 'around' my shape.

I then just put the pitcure back into excel or in my case powerpoint.

This probably doesnt help but just in case it does!
Mar 23, 2004

Thanks very much for the response. I'd tried that, but it only seems possible to do a rectangular shape around the image (unless I've missed something).

The shapes I'm using, like most geographical areas, are extremely irregular and need to fit right next to each other, so cropping into a rectangular shape doesn't really work for my needs. Thanks for taking the time to respond, though, if you have any other ideas, please let me know!



Well-known Member
Mar 20, 2007
Very welcome-

seeing as i am on the right lines ill try help some more-

Take a picture an stick it in MS Paint.
Down the left handside where you have all the buttons the graffiti icon an so on...

the top right is crop rectangle
the top left i think is crop free form.
Draw round your shape- copy it an put it on a word doc
repeat for each picture
put them all into MS paint
Piece them all together
Crop the whole lot
Put in excel
You will still have the rectangle border when back in excel but you will have pieced all the map pieces together

Sorry i cant help more i dont have paint on this PC so cant be specific
Mar 23, 2004
Ahhhhh. I see where we're at cross purposes. Sorry, I'm sleep deprived today, so clarity isn't my strong point. :(

Rather than creating one big picture with them all in, I actually need them all to stay as independent pictures (albeit reassembled to look like one big picture), so that I can vary each one's brightness and contrast to show how each region is performing.

I tried using that free-form select thing you were talking about and then pasting it directly into Excel, but it still insisted putting a rectangular border around it, so I was back at square one (no pun intended).

Thanks again for your input, and sorry for the confusion.
Last edited:


New Member
Aug 12, 2008
On project I did a long time ago I needed to have overlapping images and control what part of each image was visible during the presentation.

Each picture had a square border but I was able to define shapes within the pictures and turn the area outside my shape to transparant using Paintshop.

Then I stacked them in Powerpoint and used the ORDER mode to bring each one to the top so I could adjust the positioning. Once I had all the layers set right I grouped them so they couldn't get bumped around.

Maybe something like this would work for you.


Board Regular
Jun 18, 2008
you probably need a graphics design programme, such as Corel draw or similar (even freebies may be able to do this? such as photoshop ?)


MrExcel MVP, Moderator
May 2, 2008
Office Version
365, 2019, 2016, 2010
Windows, MacOS
If you have MapInfo, can you not simply colour the states according to the values by state?
Mar 23, 2004
Hi again.

Adamc, I'm not sure that one works for me either, unfortunately, but thanks for the pointer, I agree it looked promising! :)

LraeSinned/Gunswick, thanks for the tip, but unfortunately I work for a public body, so the luxury of a decent graphics program isn't available to me at the moment. I've got a choice of MS Office programs, Paint or, er, Solitaire. ;)

However, I believe that someone in our marketing department might have a copy of Paintshop, but they're not in today. When they return, I'll try it out and report back here whether it gets me anywhere. Thanks for the lead, though.

In the meantime, if there are any additional suggestions anyone has, I'd be much obliged as always...

EDIT: Rorya - well, yes, but as this is a quarterly report generated for 14 regions from 28 indicators. I'd like to automate it as much as possible. What is it they say? Sloth is the mother of invention... Plus, I'd quite like this to be useable for different projects asa template, so a map would be a nice addition.

Thanks for replying to the post anyhow. :)
Last edited:

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