Part 4 of 4
This book extract is from Cutting
Edge PowerPoint for Dummies, a book that will teach you how you can make
your PowerPoints dance and sing.
Okay, you've PowerPointed before, right? And you knew there must be more cool
things you could do? Here they are! This handy guide gives you pointers on
what makes a powerful presentation, tips on using the right formats and templates,
and directions for dressing up text, wowing 'em with color, adding action,
and much more.
Many PowerPoint users simply arent aware of connectors and
how they differ from lines. It isnt unusual for users to
draw lines between two shapes to show a relationship.
Lines and connectors might look the same in some instances, especially
if all you need is to draw something linking two shapes. In reality,
there are subtle differences between them. The biggest difference
is that if you attach a connector to a shape, it moves with the
shape. Attach a line to a shape and it will never move with a shape.
Tip: Using connectors and basic shapes, you can create
any type of relationship chart inside PowerPoint. Figure 5-32 shows
you an unconventional diagram that was created using just rectangles
Although connectors are just another AutoShape type, they have
no fill attributes. All line formatting options, including line
thickness, dash styles, and arrowheads, are available.
Figure 5-32: Connector samples.
Types of connectors
PowerPoint provides three types of connectors:
- Straight connectors
- Elbow connectors
- Curved connectors
Each connector style has three variants:
- No arrowheads on either side
- Arrowhead on one side
- Arrowheads on both sides
Draw the connectors only after your shapes are in place. To draw
a connector between shapes, follow these steps:
- Select a connector style from the Connectors flyout menu on
the AutoShapes menu in the Drawing toolbar. The flyout can be
dragged out by its handle to spawn a new toolbar.
The minute you move your cursor near a shape, youll find several blue,
square handles highlighted on the shape, as you can see in Figure 5-33.
- Click the cursor on one of the handles to determine the start
point of the connector.
Figure 5-33: You cant tell it from this blackand-white
book, but those handles are blue.
Move toward the shape you want to connect, and the blue squares are highlighted
on that shape.
- Click any of the blue handles to set the connectors
Changing the connector type
To change the connector type, right-click the connector and choose
the new connector type from the flyout menu, as shown in Figure
Figure 5-34: Change your Connector types.
Using the yellow diamonds
Curved and elbow connectors, when selected, sport yellow diamonds
that allow you to change the elbow location in elbow connectors
and the curvature in curve connectors. Straight connectors need
After manipulating the curve and elbow connectors, you might want
to change their shapes back to the original forms. Just right-click
the connector and choose Reroute Connectors from the resultant
Adding, changing, or reversing arrowheads
You might want to add or remove the arrowheads from a connector.
You might also want to reverse the arrowheads in a connector.
Follow these steps to add, change, or reverse arrowheads:
- Select the connector that you want to edit and choose Format.AutoShape
(or just double-click the connector). This summons the Format
AutoShape dialog box.
- In the Colors and Lines tab, the bottom third of the dialog
box is concerned exclusively with arrowheads. You can set the
begin and end styles for the arrowheads and also make the arrowheads
smaller or larger.
- When youre done, click OK.
Tip: There are many ways to get to the Format AutoShape
dialog box, but the easiest route is to double-click any AutoShape
Moving connectors and shapes
Remember: Follow these guidelines:
- When you move a shape with an attached connector, the connector
moves with the shape and automatically becomes longer or shorter
to accommodate the distance between shapes.
- Connector ends attached to a shape have a red circle handle.
Connector ends unattached to a shape have a green circle handle.
- To move a connector, first select the connector and then drag
one of the ends to another shape or leave it unconnected.
Expanding your chart horizons
You can combine shapes and connectors to create any sort of chart
in PowerPoint. For most data-based charts, you can use PowerPoints
own charts. However, for other types of charts, the shape-and-connector
approach works very well.
Some examples of this approach include
- Relationship charts
- Mind maps
- Concept charts
Connectors: Design guidelines
Follow these guidelines to create better connectors:
- Experiment with connector formatting options especially
line thickness and color. Dark-color connectors work well over
light background colors, and vice versa.
- Use a consistent line color and thickness for the shapes and
connectors on the same slide to maintain a unified design look.
- Animate connectors in sequence with the shapes to create a
sequential chart build.
More AutoShape Ideas
Almost everything on a PowerPoint slide has something to do with
AutoShapes. Even then, some ideas are better than others. Here
are some of my favorite AutoShape ideas.
Technical Stuff: This only works with PowerPoint
2002 and 2003.
All fill styles can be made transparent to varying degrees. To
change the transparency value:
- Double-click the AutoShape to open the Format AutoShape dialog
- In the Colors and Lines tab, drag the Transparency slider
to show any value between 0 and 100 (see Figure 5-35).
Figure 5-35: Creating AutoShape ghosts with the Transparency
A tale of tables
PowerPoints native tables cant be animated in sequence
one row or column at a time. To do this, you have to convert a
table to AutoShapes first.
Follow these steps to convert a table into AutoShapes:
- Draw your table and select it or choose an existing table.
Duplicate the slide so you can get your old table back!
- Choose Draw.Ungroup on the Drawing toolbar.
PowerPoint warns you that youre about to discombobulate a table, but
thats one warning you can ignore if you dont need to add more
new columns or rows to your table.
- If your table isnt yet ungrouped to AutoShapes, choose
Draw.Ungroup once again.
Youre now free to animate the individual cells of the table as you
You can combine AutoShapes to create quick drawings even if you
need to use them outside of PowerPoint. For example, you can combine
- Five or six ovals to create a flower
- Several hexagons to create a honeycomb pattern
- Two or more donuts to create a target for darts
Other quick drawings you can create with AutoShapes include clocks,
road maps, and geometric abstracts. This can be a very helpful
and quick alternative to conventional clip art.
Callouts are a category of AutoShapes that allows you to create
comic bookstyle text and thought balloons. Combine them with
drawings or photos of human or animal characters to create something
thats different, yet universally appealing. Figure 5-36 shows
you how this coin-tossing man is coping with three callouts!
Figure 5-36: Call out for callouts.
To use a callout:
- Draw or insert the character associated with the callout.
- In the Drawing toolbar, choose AutoShapes.Callouts and select
the callout style you need.
- Just click anywhere on the slide.
Warning: Dont drag-and-draw callouts. The text
in the callouts doesnt reflow on its own if you do that!
- Type text inside the callout shape and format the font as
- Resize the callout to fit the entire text content.
- Drag the diamond handle of the callout toward the character
associated with the callout.
Export your AutoShapes
You might end up creating something that needs to be used outside
of PowerPoint. Follow these steps to export shapes to a graphic
file format in PowerPoint 2002 and 2003 this trick doesnt
work in older versions:
- Select all the shapes and then group them by choosing Draw.Group
on the Drawing toolbar.
- Right-click the graphic and choose Save Picture As.
- In the Save As dialog box, choose the graphic format you need
from the Save as Type drop-down list.
- Type a name for your graphic in the File Name text box and
then click Save.
If youre using PowerPoint 2000, you can simply select your
group of shapes, copy it (Ctrl+C), and then paste it (Ctrl+V) into
another Microsoft Office application.
While this regular copy-and-paste routine works well most of the
time, designers often need to move their compositions to high-end
drawing and page-layout applications. To export your graphic to
an industry standard format, such as EPS, you need to have Adobe
Acrobat (the full version, not just the Reader) and Adobe Illustrator
installed on your system. This trick works in all versions of PowerPoint:
- Select your shapes and choose Draw.Group in the Drawing toolbar.
- Print the slide(s) to PDF.
Print your slide containing the AutoShape to a PDF document by using the
Acrobat printer driver.
Remember: Make sure that each slide that contains
your composition is saved as a
separate PDF document. All versions of Adobe Illustrator cant import
- Edit outside PowerPoint.
Open the single-page PDF inside Adobe Illustrator. Edit as required
before you save to an EPS graphic. EPS graphics can be used in
pagelayout programs like Adobe InDesign and Quark XPress.
If you love the AutoShape concept, you might want to explore Microsoft
Visio and SmartDraw. Both applications use the shape metaphor to
create diagrams. Both Visio and SmartDraw work very well with PowerPoint.
On the CD: Youll find an evaluation version of SmartDraw
on the CD attached to this book. Ive often used SmartDraw
to create quick charts, timelines, and tree diagrams. These charts
can then be used within PowerPoint.