Getting Started: Learning how to use PowerPoint SmartArt

About this lesson

This training video from Power Up Training, hosted by Les McCarter, focuses on utilizing PowerPoint’s SmartArt tool to enhance presentations with graphical representations. The tutorial is designed for both Windows and macOS users and covers PowerPoint versions from 2013 to the latest Office 365. The video walks viewers through creating various SmartArt layouts, demonstrating how to insert, edit, and style these elements to communicate ideas effectively.

The tutorial begins by explaining the basics of inserting SmartArt and selecting from over 200 available layouts. Les then guides users through creating and customizing a matrix layout, showing how to edit text, resize elements, and apply different color schemes and styles. The video also emphasizes the importance of experimenting with different layouts to find the best fit for specific presentation needs, such as list, process, and organizational chart layouts.

In addition to the introductory lesson, the video hints at more advanced tutorials that delve deeper into SmartArt capabilities. Les encourages viewers to explore further by watching subsequent parts of the series and visiting the Power Up Training website for additional free resources. The tutorial aims to empower users to create professional and visually appealing presentations with ease using PowerPoint’s SmartArt tool.


00:00 Intro
01:21 Win & Mac Versions
01:31 SmartArt Concepts
02:31 Creating 1st SmartArt
03:30 Four Components of SmartArt
06:39 Adding Layers with Indents
07:02 Change Layout
09:42 Changing Color Scheme
09:52 Changing 3-D Style
10:18 Building an Org Chart
10:53 Changing Individual Objects
12:40 Add Assistant to Org Chart
14:00 Wrap-Up


Subject Microsoft PowerPoint

Software Compatibility From Office 2013 to latest Office 365, including Windows and Mac. Works well for PowerPoint, Excel and MS Word.

Level Foundation

Course Completed Complete

PDF Files There are not any files associated with this lesson.



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PowerPoint is all about communicating your ideas to others by way of visual messaging.

One of the most compelling ways to illustrate your text messages is through graphical representations using PowerPoint’s SmartArt tool.

Welcome to Power Up Training’s “Getting Started with SmartArt.”

Hi, I’m Les McCarter, and I will get you up and running on SmartArt in the following 13 minutes.

This will work for both Windows and Apple Macs from PowerPoint 2013 to the most recent versions of Office 365.

When done, you will understand the SmartArt’s creation tool with inspiring examples by creating three very different examples.

If you are looking for a specific help topic? Move your mouse to the YouTube playbar to see all the individual chapter topics you can jump to get going.

<click> This is the first of three tutorials.  Once you master creating SmartArt, <click>  then Session 2 will go deep into advanced training, and <click> the third tutorial will help you explore the 200 different layouts.

so let’s power up to getting started with smartart let’s get going our demo is being done on the windows version of office 365 and along the way i’ll have pop-ups if the mac version is too different although the mouse strokes are almost identical smartart is a complex tool with multiple parts we will explore all the components in the next few minutes still as a preview each smart art object has a selected layout that is the framework for the object what you see here in this example is the matrix layout within the layout are graphical elements in our example there are five elements within the elements are the individual text content which could be edited inside each element or in a master text box that can be accessed by clicking this small expand arrow and when clicked up pops a text table that i can edit all five items in the five individual elements note that you can edit either the list or click inside the object element and edit directly the results are shown in both locations okay let’s build this together on our classroom whiteboard to add in smartart you need to go to the insert ribbon menu tab and then locate and click smartart action icon and once clicked powerpoint presents you with over 200 different layouts in future training videos we will help you pick the right choice for the right presentation but for now let’s look at just some of the categories it can be overwhelming but we’re just focusing on creating our first smartart so don’t worry i’m going to go to the matrix category and within there i’m going to choose titled matrix note that once selected powerpoint does give us a summary of what this layout can and cannot do so we now have our selected layout which contains five elements and now we’re going to edit the individual text items i’m going to click on the small expand arrow and up pops the text edit table i’m about to put in the title and then the list of the four items of smartart okay here’s an important concept different layouts have different limitations this titled matrix layout can only handle five elements see when i try to add a sixth text item i get a red x showing that it will not be included with the helpful message on the bottom explaining the issue of the four elements we have put in place one a layout two we’ve seen in this case the five elements and three we added in our text now let’s go on to number four and add in some style let me resize and center by lasso selecting the smart art object then carefully clicking on the far edge of the whole object and making it smaller and then moving it to the middle do take notice that when i did shrink it the font size shrank also to match the layout let’s color it by first selecting the object and then clicking on the smart art design menu if it’s not already showing and then looking at all of our color choices when clicking the action icon of change colors and microsoft designers have a range of choices for us based on our current theme color palette or some other conservative choices and even some wild color choices with this choice one of our text elements becomes lost because we have white text on white background that can be fixed by selecting the text and changing the individual elements to blue see how easy it was to click and modify specific items and if we change our minds we can go back and take on a new look in this case a more button-down color scheme which reformats the text colors to match lastly we can make one more stylistic enhancement by looking at the different layout styles including some 3d style looks that add some class or makes it a little funky so that’s our first run through on how to build smartart from scratch now let’s go deeper this time around we’ll use a different layout and see how these layout variations have different capabilities such as the table list which gives us more choices look at how we have three main elements and under each one they have a different number of sub elements which automatically adjust from one to four placeholders and see how easy it is to add a second sub element just by typing and indenting and having it perfectly format let’s dig deeper with some variations each layout has different features and limitations and so you may need to experiment with selected layouts the five element layout does have some flexibility if we elect to add a third indent layer watch how this auto transforms from a center text in each of the four boxes to a top label box when i add an indented bullet items by pressing the tab in the text entry area but you may find a more optimal layout design to better communicate specific ideas let’s try on something new the first smart heart we created we inserted it into a blank canvas this time let’s see how we can convert an existing smartart into a new design and not have to retype our text here’s a quick aside the smart art design menu only appears if we have a smart art object selected watch as it comes and go based on what is or is not selected so to choose a new layout design we’re going to click on the object and then in the smart design menu we’re going to look that there are similar layout recommendations but we want to try something completely different so we’ll click on see the whole list once again with over 200 layouts in the most recent version of powerpoint 365 we have a separate youtube video to help you decide what will work best for your specific concept but at the moment we’re focusing on the mechanics of creating smartart so let me choose a specific layout to work with under lists specifically i’m going to choose table list this layout is more flexible when it comes to the number of second layer topics we’re no longer limited to just four as i can add as many as i want except that visually it becomes a little too crowded if i go too far furthermore i can also add sub bullet points but note that if i do one box i need to do them all if i want them to look consistent with the titles across the top of each box let’s explore a different layout in the same family to see if it works any better with the object selected i will take a look at some of the variations let’s try this one once i click it doesn’t seem right let’s experiment a bit by adding several more top layer topics i will select the bullet point topic 1 and do a shift tab to outdent the items and do the same shift tab for topic 2. now we’re getting the idea of how this layout works and starting to understand the importance of our text and the use of multiple layers of outline indents to get different looks with inside of smartart so with the object selected i can now just survey the various designs just within the list category by hovering my mouse over each layout and looking to find one that captures the spirit of my text ideas let’s explore this layout this is more than just a list but a list that uses arrows to show a process or flow as before once we have our layout and text we can then enhance the look with a new color scheme that either complements our existing colors or we can brighten up with a more colorful choice and then add some visual excitement with the application of a 3d look once again hovering our mouse over the look before choosing and clicking there is no doubt that this is eye-popping but probably not appropriate for a professional presentation but that’s easy to fix we can go with a more corporate color scheme and then a subtle 3d enhancement on to our last and most ambitious smart art learning project an org chart we’ll learn how to edit both in the text box and inside the smart art object plus introduce some of the additional action icons that are specific to smartart as we see with this existing object when i change the name alex in the chart the text box follows along but let’s see more i will work with the schuyler position box by clicking on that element then looking at the choices we have in the smartart design menu found on the far left of the menu items watch what happens when i click on demote and skyler no longer reports to the chairman but to devon the assistant if i click on promote action icon then she returns to her manager role now let’s experiment with move up and move down when i click move down with skyler selected she confusingly moves right what’s happening is that she’s moving down within the text box so her position now follows sam and one more move down and she follows leslie and skylar returns back to her normal position when i click move up a couple of times okay let’s build this from scratch on our classroom whiteboard i need to start in the insert ribbon tab menu and then click on smart art action icon then we go to the hierarchy layout group i’m going to choose name and title organization chart here we have a starter list i’m going to whip through adding some names to expand our art chart while i’m working in the text edit list we could alternatively click inside each sub-element to add the names one issue with this layout is that the smaller title box cannot be edited within the text list so i need to go back and add in some position titles i’m going to give dot 2 cpa accounting positions by working inside the text list box and using the tab key to indent for the two cpa positions but not all sub elements can be added in the text to edit box some specialized shapes can only be added via the action icon called add shape let’s give dot an assistant by clicking add shape and selecting add assistant and in the text edit box you now see a specialized symbol of the right angle arrow for the assistant position shape which is similar to the rachel assistant to alex now to do some stylistic enhancements by selecting the whole object and resizing it to fit inside of our slide note how the font sizes automatically shrink as we shrink the object that’s a great time saver and then we can try on some different color combinations to take note of the details in my chosen color the connector lines on the bottom half half of the ore chart has become invisible because they are white on a white background that can be tricky to fix and it may be simpler to either change the background or pick a different color scheme lastly we can add some subtle 3d effects and make sure that we’re centered on the slide with that we have a very professional looking org chart with just a little effort and no extra specialized tool other than the smart art and powerpoint

SmartArt opens up a whole new universe of ideas and tools. You are now ready to create more awesome slides.

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Also, if you want to go even deeper, check out Part two of our SmartArt tutorial, where we cover EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW.

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