How to Add and Format SmartArt in PowerPoint: Text, Shapes, and Lists

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  • 0:01 Working with SmartArt
  • 0:58 Adding More Shapes
  • 2:55 Changing the Color
  • 3:39 The Text Pane
  • 5:44 Converting a List
  • 6:52 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.

Need an organizational chart? Need to make changes to an existing SmartArt graphic? This lesson will review how to create a SmartArt graphic and how to make changes to your graphic, such as adding more shapes and changing colors.

Working with SmartArt

SmartArt lets you add shapes, color and emphasis to your text. Think of it as turning your text into a diagram, flow-chart, organizational chart or just making a list a little more exciting. This lesson will discuss how to make changes to your SmartArt by adding more shapes, changing the color, changing the text and converting a bullet list into a SmartArt graphic.

But before we begin, let's review how to add a SmartArt graphic to your slide:

  1. First, select the Insert menu on the ribbon.
  2. And then, under the Illustrations grouping of commands, click on the SmartArt command.
  3. A list of SmartArt categories with several different layouts to choose from will appear. Select the layout you want and click OK.

Now, let's continue and learn about making changes to our SmartArt.

Adding More Shapes

You will find it necessary to add more shapes to your SmartArt. For example, if you wanted to create an enhanced version of an agenda, you could use SmartArt. This would replace the typical bullet list of agenda items.

Imagine you are creating a presentation for an upcoming meeting, and a couple of days before, you decide to add a short, team-building exercise. You need to add another list item, or shape, to your SmartArt.

So, here are the steps:

  1. First, click on the SmartArt graphic and select an existing shape closest to where you want to add the new shape.
  2. In the ribbon, under the SmartArt Tools, click on the Design menu.
  3. In the Create Graphic grouping of commands, click on the pick-list icon, next to the Add Shape icon.
    • To insert a shape at the same level as the selected shape but following it, click on Add Shape After.
    • To insert a shape at the same level as the selected shape but before it, click on Add Shape Before.
    • To insert a shape one level above the selected shape, click on Add Shape Above.
    • To insert a shape one level below the selected shape, click Add Shape Below.

To quickly add a shape that matches those in your SmartArt graphic, you can click directly on the Add Shape button. This will, by default, add a shape directly to the right of the shape you have selected.

And here is something to keep in mind: depending on the layout you choose for your SmartArt graphic, all options may not be enabled. For example, if your layout choice goes from left to right or right to left, you may not see the Add Shape Above or Add Shape Below, since your layout choice does not have shapes above or below.

Changing the Color

Okay, let's move on to changing the color. So, the easiest way to quickly change the look of your SmartArt is to change the color. This can happen with just a few clicks of your mouse. Select the SmartArt graphic, and in the SmartArt Tools, click on the Design menu. In the ribbon, go to the SmartArt Styles grouping of commands and click on Change Colors.

PowerPoint offers several different color variations. You can choose to change your SmartArt to multi-color or choose any of the 1-color combinations. This is the easiest way to quickly add some variety to your slide and your SmartArt graphic.

The Text Pane

Let's talk about the text pane. You have two options when entering the text in your SmartArt graphic. You can click directly on the text within the shape of the SmartArt, or you can use the text pane. This is where you can add, remove and edit the text that appears in your SmartArt graphic, and personally, I think using the text pane is the easiest way to modify the text.

By default, when you select your SmartArt, your text pane will open to the left of the graphic. However, sometimes it can get turned off or disabled. If you don't see the text pane, click on the handle, on the left side of the SmartArt. It looks like a greater or less than symbol, on the edge of the SmartArt placeholder. If you still have difficulties finding your text pane, go to the Create Graphic grouping of commands and click on the text pane command.

I find that SmartArt graphics work best with shorter amounts of text. The more text or longer the words and sentences, the smaller your text will need to be in order to fit it into the SmartArt shape, and this may distract from the slide and make it harder to convey your message visually.

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