It is not always easy to align objects accurately and quickly in PowerPoint but you will need to do this if you re creating a custom design in PowerPoint. Luckily there are some features in the package that can help. These tips work in a similar way in most of the other Microsoft packages too.
However, before you try drawing your own graphics always check if SmartArt graphics has a pre-set design which will work because it is much quicker and more efficient but doesn’t have the flexibility of your own creation.
When a shape is dragged and lines up with another one dotted guide lines appear. This works for aligning to the left, right or centralising the shapes. To help with this the shapes cannot be dropped wherever you want. There is an invisible grid which shapes snap to.
Nudging the shapes
The shape can be moved a small distance by using the arrow keys on the keyboard. This means that once you have lined up a shape in one direction you can restrict the movement to just horizontal or vertical whereas dragging the shape will move it in both directions unless you are very careful!
Align objects using the align icon
On the Format tab the Align icon allows alignment to the top, middle, bottom, left centre or right of the shapes. Multiple shapes must be selected first. If aligning to the top the shapes will move to align with the topmost one and similarly for all other align choices. Make sure align selected objects is selected otherwise the objects will be aligned on the slide.
Also from the align icon are the options of distribute horizontally or distribute vertically. These work if 3 or more shapes are selected. The shapes at the extremes do not move and the shapesin the middle adjust to make the gap between them the same. Alternatively, guides will appear when the shapes are close to having equal gaps if you are dragging them.
Align objects of the same shape and size
Another option is to create your first shape and hold down the Ctrl and Shift keys together while dragging the shape to create a second in the same line. The Ctrl key performs a copy and the Shift key lines it up. These keys can be used independently if required.
Once you have got the shapes arranged as you require the last thing you need is to knock them out of alignment again. By selecting all the shapes and choosing group from the Format tab it is less easy, but not impossible, to move an individual one. When the grouped shape is dragged it moves the whole object unless an individual shape is clicked, then clicked again when it will move the individual shape within the grouped object.