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How to Add and Format Shapes in PowerPoint

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  • 0:03 Introduction to Shapes
  • 0:48 Inserting & Re-sizing Shapes
  • 1:54 Fill, Outline, Effects
  • 4:04 Quick Styles
  • 4:36 Custom Shapes
  • 7:56 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Karen Sorensen

Karen has a Bachelors in Communications. She has 25 years of experience in Information Systems, Adult Learning and Virtual Training.

The shapes feature in PowerPoint is one way to create dynamic and appealing slides. This lesson will cover how to insert and re-size shapes, how to change the shape fill and outline and how to create custom shapes.

Introduction to Shapes

Knowing how to insert and modify shapes on a slide is one of the building blocks to learning the program. PowerPoint has a gallery of shapes to choose from. You can animate shapes. You can merge shapes together to create custom shapes. And although we call it a text 'box,' technically your text can be added to circles, stars, ovals and any other shapes available in the gallery. This makes adding and manipulating shapes on a PowerPoint slide powerful.

This lesson will review the steps to inserting and re-sizing shapes, how to change the fill, outline and shape effect and how to use the quick style option. Finally, we'll learn how to create custom shapes.

Inserting and Re-Sizing Shapes

We will begin by adding a basic circle.

  1. Go to the ribbon and select the Insert menu
  2. In the Illustrations grouping of commands, click on Shapes. This will expand the shapes gallery
  3. Select the circle shape
  4. Click once on the slide to add the shape. PowerPoint will add the shape in a pre-defined size, and it's usually one inch by one inch

Now, let's take a look at the steps to re-sizing the shape. When the circle is created, PowerPoint adds a placeholder to the shape. The placeholder is the box or border around the shape. The placeholder handles are the small boxes on the placeholder.

Using the placeholder handles, click, hold and drag your shape to its desired size. But notice as you manipulate the size, the shape does not stay proportionate. If you want to keep the width to height proportionate, use the corner handles and hold down the Shift key while dragging your shape to its new size.

Fill, Outline, Effects

Let's move on to the fill, outline and effects of a shape. You can be very creative when adding color and texture to your shapes. We will begin with the fill. The fill is the interior of the shape. We can fill it with color and/or texture. We can also blend colors to create a color variance.

Going to our circle, the current fill color is blue. Here are the steps to changing the fill:

  1. Select the shape
  2. Go to the Drawing Tools menu in the ribbon
  3. Click on the Format tab
  4. Look in the Shape Styles grouping of commands. You will see three icons on the right: Shape Fill, Shape Outline and Shape Effects
  5. Click on Shape Fill
  6. Select a color

Notice when you click on the Shape Fill command, you have several more options to choose from.

  • There are more standard colors with the option to create custom colors
  • You can also fill the shape with a picture or image
  • You can choose from different variances or gradients of color
  • You can fill the shape with different textures

This gives you many choices for the interior of your shape.

We would follow the same process to change the outline. Notice when you select the Shape Outline command, in addition to having more colors to choose from, you can change the weight or the thickness of the outline, and also you can make the outline dotted or dashed.

Finally, we have the Shape Effects. Here you can change the style of the shape by adding effects, such as shadows and reflections. The best choice here is to use the presets or pre-designed options that combine different effects together.

Quick Styles

Now let's move on to quick styles. If you do not want to take the time and find the right outline and the right fill, PowerPoint has created combinations that allow you to change your shape with one click.

Go back to the Shape Styles grouping of commands in the ribbon and you will notice a gallery of quick style options to the left of the fill and outline icons. Click on the more icon to expand the gallery, and with one click, you can change the look of your shape.

Custom Shapes

When you can't find the shape you want in the PowerPoint default gallery, it's time to merge shapes together to create new ones. This topic will look at two different ways to create a custom shape.

  1. Merging shapes together
  2. Changing the Edit Points of a default shape

So first, merging shapes together. In the lesson video, I have two circles and the edges intersect. Before we can merge them, we need to select the circles so they are both selected at the same time.

To do this, we can hold down the Control key and click on each circle.

  1. Go to the Drawing Tools menu in the ribbon
  2. Click on Format tab
  3. Look in the Insert Shapes grouping of commands
  4. Click on Merge Shapes. It's the icon in the lower right-hand corner

There are five choices for merging shapes. Here are examples and descriptions of each type.

  1. Union: This unites two or more shapes together to make one shape
  2. Combine: This keeps areas where the shapes do not overlap and removes overlapping areas. It's similar to a cutout option
  3. Fragment: This separates, or 'fragments,' each division created by overlapping shapes and turns them into smaller shapes
  4. Intersect: This is the remnant, or 'what's left over,' of the area where all selected shapes overlapped
  5. Subtract: This subtracts overlapping areas of other shapes from the first selected shape

Now, the second option for creating a custom shape is to Edit an existing default shape from the gallery. In our example, we will use the star shape.

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