Visual elements such as shapes are one of the best ways to enhance your slides or documents. The Shapes tool – a veteran feature of Office apps, including PowerPoint and Word – looks pretty basic on first glance, but with a bit of creativity you can make these simple objects really stand out. Here are a few ways we like to get creative:
Want to use a shape that’s not available in the gallery? Pre-existing shapes can be joined together using the Merge tool to create custom shapes. Even better, you can specify how exactly you want to merge them.
- Combine merges the shapes into one single shape
- Fragment merges the shapes as one colour and outlines the overlap
- Intersect erases both shapes, leaving only the overlapping parts
- Subtract removes one shape from another
Pretty much any element can be animated in PowerPoint, including shapes. Select the shape you want to animate, go to the Animations tab, and click on the Add Animation button next to the gallery. Then choose an animation from the menu that pops up and click on it.
As a rule, we tend to stick to the more basic animation features. Besides giving your audience a headache, too much animation risks distracting them from your message.
Any shapes you insert will have automatically have a fill colour – usually the Accent 1 colour in your theme. Colour isn’t the only fill option available to us though. In PowerPoint, you can also fill shapes with gradients, patterns, and images. The image fill option can be particularly handy if you’re presenting an organisation chart and don’t want to use standard square images.
Text can be added directly within shapes, rather than having a text box as a separate, floating object. Once you’ve drawn your shape it works in much the same way as a text box, meaning you can apply formatting such as margins and alignment to make sure your text sits perfectly within the shape. This feature is especially useful for diagrams such as organisational charts.
Shapes have been a fundamental feature of Word and PowerPoint since the very beginning. This post only scratches the surface in terms of how much you can do, but, even a basic understanding of how to use them more effectively can make a huge difference in the quality of your next presentation or document. If getting the most out of shapes is difficult for you then contact us to talk about adding some precision to your next project.