Karen has a Bachelors in Communications. She has 25 years of experience in Information Systems, Adult Learning and Virtual Training.
Besides text and pictures, you may want to add a diagram, flow chart or maybe even an organizational chart to your slide. Of course you could do this from scratch using the drawing tools and shapes, but PowerPoint has a feature that will give you some assistance in creating these types of images or illustrations. It's called SmartArt. And it can help you add a bit of flair to your slides and make you feel artistic, even if you're not.
In this lesson, we will take a look at the SmartArt command in PowerPoint and learn how to convert plain, boring text to something a bit more stimulating.
How SmartArt Works
SmartArt is a way to combine text, shapes and colors into an image or illustration. Now, most people add simple text and maybe an image to their slides, but PowerPoint makes it easy by providing several existing layouts or templates ready for you to use.
You will find the SmartArt command under the Insert menu in the Illustrations group within the ribbon. When you create a SmartArt graphic, you can choose a type, such as a list, process, cycle or hierarchy. The SmartArt type is similar to a category of graphic, and each type contains several different layouts.
When you create a SmartArt graphic, PowerPoint makes it easier by giving you a Text pane. You will see the Text pane to the left of the SmartArt graphic. As you add and edit your content in the Text pane, your SmartArt graphic is automatically updated. Creating your SmartArt on the fly or from scratch is one way, but you can also write the text first, then convert to SmartArt.
Converting Existing Text to SmartArt
Converting plain text slides to SmartArt is one way to quickly jazz up your slides. For example, I can take an agenda slide with a bullet list of each topic that will be covered and convert the text to a SmartArt list. This will add colors and shapes to my list. Let's review the steps.
- Click on the Home tab.
- Then, select the text you want to convert by clicking the placeholder that contains the text (it's the outer edge of the text box).
- Then, in the ribbon, go to the Paragraph group and click on the 'Convert to SmartArt Graphic' command. (This is the is the icon in the lower, right-hand corner of the group.)
- Then, in the gallery, click the layout for the SmartArt graphic that you want.
After you select the SmartArt graphic you want for your slide, you can make the image bigger by dragging the corners of the box to the desired size.
And in addition, you can also change the color scheme of the Smart Art. So let's take a look at that. Here are the steps:
- First of all, click the SmartArt graphic.
- And then, under SmartArt Tools, on the Design tab, in the SmartArt Styles group, click 'Change Colors'.
- Then, just click on the color variation you want.
If you decide that your SmartArt design is not what you wanted, go to the Layouts group in the ribbon and choose a different SmartArt type or design.
Smart Art is easy to use, and because PowerPoint gives you several existing layouts to choose from, sometimes the standard out-of-the-box choices can get overused. Remember you can change the colors to add variety. But also, you can add animation to them, or add 3-D effects. You can even change the shapes that the SmartArt layout uses. In other words, you might not want to settle for the standard default choices. Play with the options until you get the look that you want.
So, in this lesson, we examined the SmartArt command and learned that it can help you create more exciting and stimulating slides by combining text, shapes and colors into an image or illustration. We reviewed the steps to converting existing text to a SmartArt graphic, which is to go to the Home tab, select the text and then click on the 'Convert to SmartArt Graphic' command.
You learned that you can change the color variation of SmartArt, and it's easy to change the design by selecting a different layout. We also discussed that sometimes the out-of-the-box layout choices can get overused and that you can play with the different options for SmartArt to get the look you want.
With a little practice, you will be able to use SmartArt to create engaging and fun slides for your audience.
After you watch this video on SmartArt, assess your ability to:
- Understand what SmartArt is and how it works
- Convert text into SmartArt using a step-by-step method
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