How to Convert Text to SmartArt in PowerPoint

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  • 0:37 How SmartArt Works
  • 1:45 Converting Text to SmartArt
  • 3:49 Lesson Summary
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Instructor: Karen Sorensen

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

What is SmartArt? It's a feature in PowerPoint that gives you the ability to combine text, shapes and colors to create an image. This lesson will discuss the SmartArt command and also give you the steps to converting text to SmartArt.


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.

  1. Click on the Home tab.
  2. 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).
  3. 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.)
  4. 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:

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