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PowerPoint Tip: Creating Custom-Shaped Placeholders

It’s not hard to come up with unique slide designs if you’re familiar with PowerPoint’s full potential. There’s more to PowerPoint than just bullet points and repetitive templates. With some creativity and experimentation, you will find that PowerPoint is a flexible presentation tool that allows for many design possibilities.

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One of the many ways you can customize the look of your slides is by experimenting with picture placeholders. As you know, we use placeholders to quickly add elements on a particular slide. Placeholders are particularly useful for pictures, because it helps you ensure that alignment is consistent throughout. If you want to add an extra bit of detail to your pictures, turn your placeholders into .

Creating basic placeholder shapes: 

1.) Start with Slide Master 

Start in the Slide Master View and insert a Slide Layout. On the new slide, add a Picture Placeholder and adjust it according to your liking.

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Select Insert Layout first, then click on Insert Placeholder and choose Picture.

2.) Change placeholder shape

Select your placeholder and click on the Drawing Tools Format tab. Select Edit Shape and choose from the pre-defined shapes under Change Shape.

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Choose the shape that best suits your design concept.

3.) Make adjustments 

You can adjust the new shape by using the yellow diamond to refine corners and modify angles.

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Click and drag the yellow diamond to adjust your shape.

You can also take it one step further by defining your own shape. If you want your placeholder to look a specific way, there’s a quick way to make your own custom and unique shapes.

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Defining custom-shaped placeholders: 

1.) Choose a shape for a starting point 

Do the same steps indicated above to choose a shape that can serve as your starting point. Go with one that is closest to your desired shape, so that you can minimize the adjustments you’ll need to make.

2.) Enable Combine Shapes command 

The Combine Shapes command allows you to customize shapes by merging and intersecting them together. You can also “subtract” a portion of one shape with another. To enable the command, you will need to add it to the Quick Access Toolbar. Select the small arrow above the ribbon and choose More Commands.

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When the dialogue box appears, find Combine Shapes from All Commands. Press “C” on your keyboard to find it quickly.

3.) Adjust by “subtracting” shapes 

To use the Combine Shapes command, start placing new shapes around the placeholder. Once you’ve arranged the shapes, hold shift and select the placeholder followed by the shapes around it.

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Make sure you select the placeholder first.

Click on the Combine Shapes icon from the Quick Access toolbar and select Shape Subtract.

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How the placeholder will look after “subtraction”.

Once you’re happy with your shape, exit Slide Master View and start designing your slides. You can create as many custom-shaped placeholders as you like. Since you made them using Slide Master, you can easily access the new layouts under New Slide.

Featured Image: Ben K Adams via Flickr

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About Rick Enrico

Rick Enrico is the CEO & Founder of SlideGenius, Inc., a San Diego based marketing & software agency. Rick currently oversees an experienced team of talented designers, software developers and marketing professionals that specialize in creating custom corporate presentations and cloud publishing applications.Mr. Enrico and our team of PowerPoint design experts contribute to this blog frequently. If you have any questions or just want to drop us a line please forward them to admin (@) slidegenius.com

About SlideGenius

SlideGenius.com is your PowerPoint presentation specialist for business. Based in San Diego, California, SlideGenius has helped enhance the presentations of more than 1000+ clients all over the world, including J.P. Morgan, Harley-Davidson, Pfizer, Verizon, and Reebok, among others. Let us help you with your presentation needs!