Introducing Shapes and Styles

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Shapes, styles, paragraphs and paths

In this tutorial you will be introduced to the basic elements that are available in Breakdown Notes: shapes, paragraphs and paths. We will show how you can add these to the canvas and also show how you can style them.


Adding and Positioning Shapes

You can find all the available shapes in the shapes menu. Click it to expand and reveal the shapes. By clicking a shape, you select it. To add a shape, simply double click the canvas.

You can move shapes to any position once they have been added to the canvas. Either drag them using your mouse, or use the arrow keys on your keyboard.

adding shapes

Resizing and Morphing

Most shapes can be resized using the resize button: . Another option is resizing with the keyboard: hold control and press an arrow key (up and down for changing the height, left and right for the width).

Some shapes, like arrows, also have a morph button. With this button you can morph the form of the shape. The morph button looks like this . The arrows are indicative of the direction you can move your mouse to morph the shape.

There is also a button to extend the line shape: . The line will extend in the direction you drag the button. Release the button to finalize the new line segment.

resizing and morping shapes


Adding paragraphs

All of the shapes, except for the icon and line segment, can contain paragraphs. You add paragraphs by clicking a shape and starting to type. Pressing enter from within a paragraph will also add a new paragraph.

You can also add paragraphs and shapes to the canvas in one go. Simply click the canvas and start typing. This will capture the text you type in a new shape. Press tab from within a paragraph and continue typing to add another shape with a paragraph just below the shape you just typed in.

Of course you can always add, change or delete text in an already existing paragraph.. To remove a paragraph from a shape, select the paragraph, hold down shift, and press delete or backspace.

paragraph displayed

Moving paragraphs

Paragraphs can be moved inside a shape by dragging the button. Paragraphs can also be moved by holding control and pressing an arrow key. Lastly, you can set this (or reset this if you messed up) in the shapes control menu.

To reorder paragraph, that is move a paragraph below or above another in the same shape, first select the paragraph you want to reorder and then press shift and the up key or shift and down.

paragraph displayed

Connect Shapes with Paths

Adding Paths

Most of the shapes can be connected with paths. You can connect shapes with a path by dragging the connect button from one shape onto another. A shape will turn blue once you hover it if you can connect a path to it. Once connected, moving any of the shapes will automatically update the path.

A path does not have to connect two shapes. You can also just drag and release the connect button onto the canvas. Dragging the loose end onto a shape in a later stadium, will connect the path to the shape.

paragraph displayed

Path flow

There are different flows (staight line, with 90 degree corners, flowing) available. These are all accessible from the path menu or context menu. You can open the context menu by right clicking a shape.

You can also alter the flow of paths yourself. Just double click,the path: control points will show up. By dragging these control points, you can change the path to your liking. In the context menu you will also find buttons to control to which side of a shape a path flows.

paragraph displayed

text on paths

Paths can have text added to them. To add text, just click the path and start typing: a text should appear on the path. You can add as many texts to a path as you wish.

You can position text along a path by holding and dragging it.

paragraph displayed

Quick styles

Breakdown Notes has an easy way to add styles to shapes, paragraphs or path by one click only: by using quick styles

Using quick styles

The easiest way to style shapes, paragraph or paths, is by using the quick styles. You can find these in the color menu. By pressing any of the quick styles, you will change the shape on the canvas that is active to the quick style.

Every quick style not just has a colors (for the fill, text, border) associated with it, but also a font size, a font family, a border width and some other style attributes. Assigning a quick style to a shape, paragraph or text will copy the relevant styles onto the shape.

If you last clicked the canvas (you can check this if there is a green dot on the canvas), you can set the default quick style for any shape you add to the canvas: just click the quick style you want as default

paragraph displayed

Changing the quick styles

It is possible to change the a particular quick style. To do so, right click the style you want to change. This will show a pop up with all the style attributes you can change. In the "color picker" there is the possibility to change the color for text, border and fill

Changing the quick styles will also restyle all of the shapes paragraphs and paths on the map that already belong to the quick style you just changed.

paragraph displayed

Custom styles

There is no need to use quick styles if you do not want to. You can always choose any color, font, margin, etc for any shape, path or paragraph. Here's how:


Choosing a custom color for a shape by using the color picker. Clicking the color picker will open up a whole rainbow of colors you can set for the text, fill and border of a shape.

Paragraphs do not have a border or a fill when they are added to a shape. They are transparent, so they take on the color of the shape they are in. You can however change the colors for a paragraph just like you can with a shape. Assigning a text colors to a paragraph will overrule the text color of the shape.

paragraph displayed


To help you choose a size quickly, there are five predefined font sizes: XL, X, R, S, XS (extra large, large ,regular ,small ,extra small). You can also choose a specific font size. Check out Fonts

Each shape has a font size and font family. These will be the default for all the paragraphs you add to that shape. Just click the font you want to assign to the shape from the font menu or the context menu.

You can always overrule one or more paragraphs by giving those paragraphs their own specific font family or sizes. And for paragraphs there are options for italic and bold, as well as different bullet points

paragraph displayed


Every shape and paragraph can have a border. You can set the width of the border, and the color. For shapes, there are options to only set the border on one or more sides of a shape. And you may also use dots-n-dashes to make borderd dotted. Controls for borders can be found in the border menu.

You can use the border menu on paths to change the width and add dots/dashes to it. For path with a style of double, which has an inner and an outer style, most options are available for the inner path and the outer path making it possible to get some creative path styles.

styling borders

Styling part of a paragraph

Sometimes you want to highlight only part of a paragraph: for instance, make it bold, italic, or give part of the paragraph a different font, size or color. You can do this too with Breakdown Notes.

Simply select the part of the paragraph you want to style (by dragging or clicking a word). Then click the style you want to add to the selected text. This can be a quick style, a font or font size, bold or italic. This will add the selected text to a tag with styles that are different from the paragraph. You can still change the text in the tag, and you can add multiple of these tags to one paragraph.

Once you have tagged part of a paragraph, you will not have to select the whole text again to add some more style. After the first tag, the text part becomes selectable, just like a paragraph: just click the part to select it and then you are ready to add more styles (different font, color, border etc.).

styling parts of paragraphs

Copying styles and shapes

copying shapes

With Breakdown Notes you can simply copy shapes if you styled a shape you want to copy. Simply press control c and the active shape will be copied. Next, click the canvas to add it. Instead of control c, there is also a button to copy the shape in the contextmenu.

copying styles

If you already made a shape, but want to have styles of a second shape copied to it, use control s. First click the shape with the styles you want to copy, then press control s, and then click the shape you want the styles copied to. Copying styles also works between paths and between pargraphs.

copying styles