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Using PowerPoint Shape Tool to Create Powerful Presentations

The Shapes tool in PowerPoint is very useful for creating diagrams, graphics and other visual elements for your presentations. Its large collection of shapes allows you to add balloons, borders, arrows, and other shape designs in your presentations. This functionality also helps create custom shapes depending on your design requirements.

Working with PowerPoint Shape tool is very easy. It’s as simple as locating the Insert tab and clicking on Shapes. Doing so will launch a popup window where you can choose any shape that you need. To give you an idea, here are a couple of ways you can manipulate shapes in PowerPoint Slides:

Adding Text to Shapes

Draw a shape and then start typing to add text. By default, the texts will be centered on the shape, but you can change alignment by selecting them and using the contextual mini-toolbar.

The text will not auto-re-size, however, to stay within the shape’s borders. It simply adjusts the shape as you continue typing.

To control this, right-click on the shape and select Format Shape. Then, click Text Options and after that, Text Box. Depending on your preference, change it to either “Shrink text on overflow” or “Resize shape to fit text,”

Naturally, putting so much text on a shape is not exactly a great idea but at least you know how to work around it. As you create them, both text and the shape become part of the same object.

Deleting the shape will also delete the text. If you want text to be separate from the shape, redraw the shape and use the Text Box tool when you type the text. If you need to move them together, you may choose to group them.

Changing a Shape into Another Shape

Let’s do this with the arrow shape. Choose the arrow from the Shapes menu and add it to your slide.


Clicking on it will cause two yellow diamonds appear on its opposite sides. These diamonds indicate the areas of the arrow that you can edit.



Click and hold the diamond on the left portion of the arrow. Then, try dragging it for a bit in a downward direction. You will see that this lets you control the width of the arrow’s frame. Click and hold the other diamond at the top of the arrow. Drag it to the right. Doing so allows you to manipulate the size of the pointer.


As you control the yellow diamonds, you can change the way the arrow is shown on the slide.

These are just some of the ways you can play with PowerPoint’s Shape functionality. We’ll be doing some more demonstration in the following days, so stay tuned.

Basic PowerPoint Timeline Creation: Shapes and Tables

One of the most commonly used diagrams in business presentations is the timeline. Many companies, for example, use it to illustrate the highlights of their organization’s growth. Timelines are also great for project management as they allow teams to know the milestones they need to achieve along with the targeted schedule.

A simple way to create a timeline is to use visual elements such as arrows, chevrons, or pentagons along with the table tools. Even if you don’t have an extensive background in creating PowerPoint, you can make your own timeline using those shapes and tools. With just a few tweaks, you can use them to enhance the impact of your timeline.

Here are a couple of steps to follow in creating a basic PowerPoint timeline using a table and some simple shapes.

Draw a Table

The first thing to do is to open a blank presentation in PowerPoint and then draw a table. It’s up to you to decide on the number of rows and columns. You may also apply some colors and styles to enhance the appearance of your table.


Create the Shapes

At this point, you will need two shape designs: the Chevron and Pentagon. Both of these shapes will help illustrate your activities or milestones. On the other hand, the Pentagon is a handy shape to show the initial activity as it has an arrow effect that appears only in the right side. The Chevron shape is suitable for the succeeding activities due to the arrow effect in both sides, providing an impression of movement or progress.






Draw the Shapes on the Table

Lastly, draw the shape designs on the table accordingly. You will assign each shape an activity, which corresponds to certain tasks in your timeline. A Gantt diagram is a type of chart where you can adapt this basic design. You will just have to add some more activities or milestones. This timeline is also useful for other project planning presentations.

basic powerpoint timeline

The Takeaway

Whenever there’s a need for a graphical representation of a series of events, you can expect timelines to come in handy. You may even use one to represent your own personal milestones.

This basic design is a good start. With more practice and learning, you’ll be able to create more complicated timeline designs in no time.


Gantt. Accessed May 9, 2014.