Moving on from last week’s topic of Basic Image Manipulation, this week we look at aligning content to improve visual aesthetics within PowerPoint.
Let’s get started!
In PowerPoint O365, icons are an in-built offering. Go to the Insert tab and choose Icons:
Single or multiple icons can be selected from this panel and inserted onto the slide.
Have you ever inserted more than one image, icon or other element within a PowerPoint slide and tried to line them up? Was it successful?
Yes, you can click and drag objects around the screen. And yes, you can use the helpful guides that appear when it comes to aligning content. However, if the multiple items are different sizes, this can still leave the slide looking unbalanced.
In this instance, we can look to the Alignment Tools available within PowerPoint. For this write up, we will be using icons, but the concept still applies to inserted text boxes, shapes, images and anything else you can select on a slide.
Below, you will see a PowerPoint slide with a number of icons on it which are unbalanced. It also shows the guides that appear to help align individual items with other things around it. These guides become active when you move an item:
Making multiple selections
Select all the items which are to be aligned. For example, click the first item and then CTRL click the second and third item, etc. This will show handles on all the items that are actively selected:
Next, go to the Graphics Format tab, choose Arrange. From the drop down menu, hover over Align and a secondary menu of options appear:
Let’s explore these options! When multiple items are selected, you can align everything to the left-most, right-most or centre-aligned item on the screen. Below, you will see examples of all icons left, centre and right aligned on the same slide:
Another option is to align everything to the top, middle or bottom item on the screen. Below, you will see examples of all icons top, middle and bottom aligned on the same slide:
Evenly spacing content
The options to date will align items to the same left/right or top/bottom locations on the screen. However, do consider the amount of space between items as well. This will also help with the balance. For example, there are distribution options for horizontal (left/right) and vertical (top/bottom) items.
The first example show’s three icons which have been aligned to the top-most icon and then evenly distributed horizontally:
And, the next example shows four icons which have been aligned to the right-most icon and then evenly distributed vertically:
Select the icons on screen and go to the Graphics Format tab, Graphics Outline and choose a colour:
Items can be individually recoloured, or done as a group recolour.
There’s two options here: Graphics Format tab and amend height/width, or right-click an icon and choose Size and Position to open the Format Graphics panel o the right hand side:
Do ensure the Lock Aspect Ratio is ticked to maintain icon scale. Also, explore the other options that are available within the panel.
Let’s pretend we’re building a timeline out of text and arrows (FYI, you can create a timeline using the built in Smart Art). But, let’s create our own. We want to ensure it’s all nicely aligned.
In PowerPoint, insert a number of text boxes and add in the relevant information. Ensure the text boxes are the same size. Then add in a number of arrows which will ultimately slot in between the text boxes.
- size of text boxes
- size/orientation of arrows
- colour of arrows
- digital accessibility
Select all the text boxes by clicking on the first item and CTRL clicking the second to last text box. Next, align all the text boxes to the top and evenly distribute these horizontally:
Here, we decided to move the left item more to the left and the right-most item further right. We then re-applied the horizontal distribution:
You can see the information above is now better spaced. Whilst its all still selected, click on one of the items bounding box and move them all down the slide away from the title.
Let’s look at the arrows. We decided a small arrow was required from the number and sizes of arrows we previously inserted:
The arrow highlighted above was copied and pasted several times. These arrows were roughly placed along the timeline but we’re sure you’ll agree, they’re not well placed.
By clicking on the left-most arrow and CTRL clicking the second through sixth arrows. Once selected, we used top alignment and distributed these horizontally to get the result below:
At this point, extraneous arrows can be deleted and the current arrows can be recoloured if required.
Don’t forget. No matter what visual content is added to a slide, it needs ALT Text applied.
Also, this is a group of elements that make up a timeline. This means you can select all the text boxes and arrows on the slide (exclude the slide title) and group these items (right-click and group). Then apply ALT Text to the group rather than individual items.
Whilst mentioning accessibility, ensure there is enough contrast between the text colour and the background slide colour. Text should be minimum size 14point and a sans serif font.
It’s prudent to consider where the information will be displayed. If its for screen out, 14point size is probably OK. However, if the presentation is to be displayed in a big lecture theatre, students at the back of the theatre may struggle to see the text on screen.
Next week, we’ll be looking at using PowerPoint design tab and customizing templates.
Remember, the DigiKnow blog posts are released at noon on a Monday.
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