Trainers' thoughts on Microsoft Office products

You may not be aware of it, but PowerPoint offers a couple of nifty little tools to help you position objects on your slides. Gridlines and Guides allow you to precisely place all of you various objects (titles, text boxes, graphics, etc.). Just a note, when you’re using these tools, it’s useful to have the Ruler turned on (on the View tab, in the Show group, check Ruler).

Gridlines

By default, gridlines are spaced 0.083 inches apart (if you do the math, that’s 1/12 of an inch). Fortunately, when you display the gridlines, you see the minor division at one inch intervals; otherwise your slide would look way too busy (even though the gridlines don’t display when you’re showing a slide show).

Also, by default, Snap objects to grid is turned on. This means when you move objects around on your slide, they “snap” to the nearest minor division. This can be very useful when you’re positioning objects.

To Display Gridlines

There are a couple of ways to display the gridlines:

  • On the Home tab, in the Drawing group, click Arrange, and in the Align submenu, click View Gridlines
  • On the View tab, in the Show group, check the Gridlines box.
  • Press Shift+F9.

To Change Gridline Settings

You change the gridline settings in the Grid and Guides dialog box.

To display the Grid and Guides dialog box:

  • On the Home tab, in the Drawing group, click Arrange, and in the Align submenu, click Grid Settings.
  • On the View tab, in the Show group, click the dialog box launcher.
  • Right click on a blank area of the slide and select Grid and Guides.

From here, you can change the spacing and turn off the Snap objects to grid, among other things.

Nudging Objects

With “snapping” turned on, you can use the arrow keys to snap to the nearest division. You can override the snap setting by holding down the Ctrl key while you use the arrow keys. This will move your object one pixel at a time.

Guides

While the gridlines are fixed positions (depending on your settings), guides are movable lines on your slides. This is extremely useful when you want objects on different slides to be in the same relative position.

By default, when you display guides, you get one vertical and one horizontal guide at the center of your slide (0, 0). You can drag the guides to where you want them (you’ll see the offset from the center as you drag the guide).

To Display the Guides

  • On the View tab, in the Show group, check the Guides box (new in PowerPoint 2010, thank you Microsoft).
  • Open the Grid and Guides dialog box and check Display drawing guides on screen.
  • Press Alt+F9.

You can create multiple guides by holding down the Ctrl key while you drag a guide (make sure you let go of the mouse button before you release the Ctrl key). You can get rid of multiple guides by dragging them off the slides (you can’t drag the original guides past the edges of the slide).

All in all, these really cool features can be very helpful when you’re creating your masterpiece.

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