What are Powerpoint Shapes?

When building a presentation in Microsoft Powerpoint, there are a variety of shapes that can be used as building blocks for your slides. Dozens of shapes are included in the program, but you also have the ability to create custom shapes as well. In this handy guide, we've outlined the basics of Powerpoint shapes, so you can add them to your presentation, adjust how they look, and even build them from scratch.

Adding Powerpoint Shapes
First, load your current Powerpoint project, select the Insert tab near the top of the screen, and click the "Shapes" button. In the dropdown menu, you'll see a variety of shapes to choose from. 

Click on a shape to select it, and then click and drag anywhere on the slide to add it. You can make the shape as small or large as you like, depending on how far you drag the mouse. If you hold down the Shift key while dragging, your shape's proportions will be kept intact, no matter which direction you drag. 

Adjusting a Shape's Color and Effects
Once you've added a shape to your presentation, you can change its color (fill or outline), texture, and many other attributes. First, select the shape and click on the "Drawing Tools" button in the top right corner. Then, choose the Format tab to see a wide variety of shape settings. These include:

  • Shape Fill: Change the shape's fill color, texture, or image.
  • Shape Outline: Change the shape's outline color. 
  • Shape Effects: Add reflections, shadows, and other effects to the shape.

Creating Custom Shapes
By using a few drawing tools in sequence, you can build and combine complex shapes inside Powerpoint, without relying on a separate design program like Illustrator. Under the Format tab, there's a feature called "Merge Shapes", with multiple options for how you can morph existing shapes into new forms. Click the dropdown arrow next to "Merge Shapes" to access these five options:

  • Union: Fuse two shapes together. 
  • Combine: Fuse two shapes together, but the overlapping sections are eliminated.
  • Fragment: Fuse two shapes together, and create an outline where the shapes overlap.
  • Intersect: Erase the two shapes, except for the areas where they overlap.
  • Subtract: Use the second shape as a cookie cutter, so that any areas that overlap the first shape are eliminated.

Once you've used a few of these editing tools to build a custom shape, you can adjust the "Shape Fill", "Shape Outline", and "Shape Effects" options to refine the shape even further. 

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