What is Powerpoint SmartArt?

Developed by Microsoft for Powerpoint, Word, and other Office programs, SmartArt is a handy graphical tool that helps you visualize complex ideas. If you're creating a business presentation, family tree, or infographic, SmartArt provides a specialized template that allows you to package data more effectively. Below, we've shared how Powerpoint SmartArt can be used to create organization charts, dialog trees, and many other educational graphics. 

Types of SmartArt
When selecting SmartArt for your project, there are a variety of categories to choose from, and each one has strengths and weaknesses at conveying certain types of information. Here are the main Powerpoint SmartArt categories:

  • List: Best for sharing non-sequential data in a list format (i.e. bullet points).
  • Process: Designed to show the step-by-step process behind an activity, or a timeline with important events along the way.
  • Cycle: Designed to show a continuous process, with events that repeat in a cyclical pattern. 
  • Hierarchy: Best for organization charts, decision trees, or any other system that contains hierarchical relationships.
  • Relationship: Unlike the Hierarchy category, this SmartArt is designed to show connections in a free-form manner, if your system contains mutual relationships and unconventional links.  
  • Matrix: Best for visualizing data that exists on multiple axes, so you can see how these variables affect the broader system.
  • Pyramid: Designed to share information that fits into a proportional system, with the largest section on the bottom, and the smallest at the top (i.e. the food pyramid). 

How to Create a SmartArt Graphic
1. First, load your current Powerpoint project, and select the slide where you'd like to add a SmartArt graphic. Then, click the "Insert" tab located near the top of the screen. Within this tab, select "Illustrations" and then "SmartArt". 

2. In the new dialog box called "Choose a SmartArt Graphic", you can choose from the full list of SmartArt categories, add shapes, enter text, and more. Once you've selected a category, just click on one of the shapes and start typing to add new text. 

3. To add shapes to your existing category, first select the shape located closest to where you'd like to add a new one, and then click on the "Design" tab. Inside the tab, choose "SmartArt Tools" > "Create Graphic" > "Add Shape". Depending on your needs, you can choose to add the new shape before or after the currently selected shape.  

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