Deep Dive: Advanced PowerPoint SmartArt Tutorial

About this lesson

This training video, presented by Les McCarter from PowerUp Training, dives deep into PowerPoint’s SmartArt tool and illustrates how to create visually compelling presentations. It covers a range of topics, from inserting SmartArt and managing individual objects to customizing text, color, and layout. The video emphasizes the importance of experimenting with different layouts and colors to find the perfect match for your presentation needs.

Les explains advanced SmartArt features, including how to convert existing text into SmartArt, manage text within SmartArt objects, and change layouts midstream to suit various presentation scenarios. It highlights the use of color palettes and style galleries to maintain a consistent design throughout your slides, while also allowing for specific customization of individual elements.

Additionally,  Les explores the animation capabilities of SmartArt, showing how to bring elements to life in your slideshows. He demonstrates how to apply and customize animations to SmartArt objects, making each element appear in sequence or all at once.


00:00 Intro
01:08 Required Knowledge
01:50 Tutorial Agenda
02:15 The Two SmartArt Menu
02:44 Two Ways to Insert SmartArt
03:25 Convert Text to SmartArt
03:41 Two Methods to Add Text
04:15 Adding Bullet Items
04:58 Changing Existing Layouts
05:32 Seeing More Layouts Command
06:30 Text Limitations
06:46 Tip: Experiment
07:20 Colors in SmartArt
07:33 Two Color Palettes
09:02 Picture Layouts
09:37 Recolor Pictures
10:08 Gallery Styles
10:57 Managing Individual Objects
12:00 Adding Org Chart Assistant
12:38 Changing layout direction
13:25 Change Object Shape and Size
15:00 Copy Characteristics with Format Painter
15:21 Slide Show Animation
17:19 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 Advanced

Course Completed Complete

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



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SmartArt is PowerPoint’s most powerful tool for visually communicating text-based ideas.  This is our deep dive into everything about creating SmartArt.

Hi, this is Les McCarter from PowerUp Training, where I turn my decades of experience into your PowerPoint expertise for free.

<click> This is our 2nd of three videos on SmartArt, if you are new to this tool, then check out our first video because <click>  here we are going deep! 

I will cover all the controls and stylistic choices, plus how to manage individual objects and finally turning the SmartArt into slide animation.

Looking for a specific topic?  Then leverage our chapter listing in the YouTube play bar below and jump to that part in our tutorial.

<click> The third tutorial after this will focus on selecting the best of over 200 layouts.

But for now, let’s power up and learn everything about SmartArt.

i’m assuming you’ve watched the first of our youtube videos on smartart and if not you should be comfortable with these concepts before going forward smartart is a clever way to represent your ideas in a visual format whether it be a list a process a set of relationships and more interactive combinations each type of relationship can be represented by smart art layouts and different layouts have both limitations and capabilities as it pertains to text and bullet points if you’re light on these concepts go watch part one of our youtube series listed below otherwise let’s get going in this deep dive tutorial we’ll be covering all the different menu choices for creating and managing smartart and focusing on how to customize the text color and style plus changing layouts midstream to meet our various needs next we’ll look at the specific controls you have and what you should not touch with each element inside the smartart object and then end up with the coolest of tricks with slideshow animation of smartart elements so let’s go there are two main menus for managing smartart once clicked these context aware menus will appear the first is the smartart design menu and secondly the format menu the third item found inside the home ribbon menu is the convert to smartart which i’m showing but is dimmed out because we have no text highlighted more on this shortly let’s examine the three ways to insert smartart into a slide first you need to be in the target slide and then go to the insert ribbon menu tab and find the insert smartart action item then choose the layout and click ok there it is but let me undo the object and insert it the second way if your empty slide has a placeholder it may show eight dim icons for you to select from second from the right of the top row is smartart look carefully below while i click that icon and up pops the layout selection menu the third method i hinted at a few moments ago convert to smartart this time i’ve highlighted my existing text and then i go to the home menu and select convert to smartart it’s a great way to add punch to text on an existing slide in a smart art object text can be entered by two methods either in the pop out text frame or directly inside the object let me quickly go ahead and convert this into a smart art object from existing text i’ll choose one of the layouts that we saw moments ago and in here we’re gonna find that when i click the expansion box arrow that i can put my text into the text frame by just clicking and typing or i can go into the text box however when working in the text frame it seems simpler for me to go ahead and add in new lines and when i do here you’ll see that the object expanded to accommodate line three and line four let me go to line three and do a tab key to do an indent you’ll actually start to add in additional bullet lines a and line b however as i continue on to add in another bullet point either inside the text box or in the actual text frame i’m going to find that the fonts are getting smaller and smaller and while it will work it is not visually compelling and so we do need to be careful not to push it too far as we just experienced not all layouts will enhance our message but the great thing about smartart is that you can change the layouts of his stream here’s an existing smartart that just does not work visually there are too many steps to match the layout design but let’s try out some different layouts by making sure we click on smart art design and then we can just move our mouse over some of the suggested ones and actually see them in place without clicking you do the drop down list and there are even more recommendations for that specific category but if you want to see more you need to go to the more layout sections at the bottom and fortunately when you go there the different category choices will no longer preview them you will just have to look pick and choose with over 200 layouts in office 365 it can be overwhelming to know what to select but find our next video in this series for help on how to make those selection decisions for now we’re going to go ahead and work on a process as this is not a cycle so let’s see if we can find one there that might work this one looks cool or maybe not it does not fit our message and the text is too small so let me go ahead and undo that and we can try another one hmm this one seems like it might fit bigger text oh yes it does oh but wait the layout has a built-in limitation of showing only five lines take a look down below and it shows that it only accepts certain lines and puts red x’s next to the lines that it cannot fit what you’re now witnessing is the experimentation phase of smartart while the tool can speed up the creation to professional looking graphics it does require you to experiment with different choices that matches your message layouts are influenced by the amount of text lines and the number of group of indentations included in your slide so do allow the time to try on different layouts and don’t get married to one layout because it looks cool always have your slide message goal in mind and have it supported by the graphics not the other way around the next choice is color i find it best to find the right colors right after selecting the layout before we go too far you need to understand that powerpoint uses two color palettes one is the design template theme colors plus the always constant standard colors combined together they present you the choices to choose from to better understand colors and powerpoint look at our detailed youtube tutorial on powerpoint colors with the object selected and smartart design menu selected we then choose change colors and be presented with the existing design color palette collections no way to change them individually this use of the collections help you stay consistent but what if you really want something different then you need to go to the design menu and select colors to find a different palette once again look for our other detail tutorial on powerpoint colors to learn more so i’m in the design menu and colors now as i hover over the different palettes i can see on the side the impact it has on my smartart let me choose one and then revisit the change color for our smartart so what is this primary theme colors of accent one and two and three it comes from the earlier selected color palettes as seen here in our tutorial pop-up colors are assigned to the names of accent one through six and they are then tied to our color choices in the smart art color area as you see colors is a whole new topic one more color topic but we need to introduce a new layout one that can accommodate images let me change this layout to a picture layout that will let me add some photos once it’s supplied i then need to click inside each circle on the photo placeholder and i will then bring in some powerpoint office 365 stock images for each of the three circles i’m purposely choosing photos that don’t match my topic but ones that are colorful so we can soon make them match our smartart color scheme photos are red and pink and black and white watch when i go to change colors under the smartart design and select recolor pictures in smartart graphics all of a sudden they all match our overall color theme and if i now change our smart art color option to say colorful then the individual photos automatically are recolored to match their individual groupings that is pretty cool now on to the last smart art style choice gallery styles gallery of changes can be subtle or radical click on the smart art object and then the menu smart art design then drag your mouse over the gallery to see the proposed changes make sure you click the drop down arrow to see the full list the individual changes are sometimes hard to make out as it impacts the line width drop shadows box outlines but once you go to 3d it becomes much more radical and in my opinion it sometimes goes from subtle to way overboard no matter what i do recommend that you use the same style in all your slides within a single slide deck up to this point we’ve been dealing with the full smartart object meaning that the changes impact the collection of individual elements as a collective now let’s see how to change the individual elements still working with the smart art design menu we’ll now focus on the action icons on the top left corner with the kim box selected i’m going to choose add shape and then try a variety of add shape after add shape before add shape above and add shape below if you watch carefully and see the empties boxes pop up you’ll see this actually showing up also in our text pane so you could just as easily go into the text pane and insert new lines and indent and outdent to do the same thing with this tool is nice though to see it visually if you want to see how we built this from scratch do refer to our first video in this series for now i’m going to go ahead and undo and show you one special items that is specific to the hierarchy org chart i’m going to give our finance head dot an assistant which is neither a box above or below or to the side so i click on dot i’m going to go up there and choose add shape but there’s a special shape only for org charts and that’s called add assistant when i click on that it will drop an assistant underneath dot and if you look carefully in our text box there’s a curious right hand arrow that indicates an assistant so we can put in harrow harry and give harry the title of assistant let’s look at another action icon which is called right to left look at our r chart pay attention to cpa1 and cpa2 when i go up there and switch right to left they flip flop and now everyone that was on the rights on the left ccpa2 and cpa1 and dave and kim’s swap spot if i click it again they go back so once again that’s a nice way to be able to flip things around you can also change the layout for your r chart but you’ll see that different layouts have different components some losing the title and others let you add in a photo of your individuals within the org chart for a small company or department the powerpoint smart art design or chart works out great while the advantage of the smart art object is a collective holistic design you may want to alter a very specific objects let’s use dot as an example with your element selected i will now go to the format menu item which is to the right of the smartart design menu choice and there i can make the dot box smaller with each click one two three four note that to keep the overall look the font size of the whole object is shrinking consistently but only the box around dot is shrinking and i now can click click click to make dots box larger i can also go in and change the shape to make her box more distinctive with the selected i do change shape choose a specific rectangle and look it now has some slanted corners now within the shape style i can actually go in and change the characteristic of the box based off some of the preset styles and if i want more styles i’ll click the down arrow to see the full list fortunately as i scroll my mouse over each item it gives me a preview of what is going to look like personally i like a consistent look but there may be situations where you want to highlight a very specific box and of course you can use the word art style gallery box to look at different font effects for a dot by hovering and then clicking to select while not technically a smart heart tool you can use the format painter found under home to be able to copy one format to the next select the source object that you want to copy the format from go to home choose format painter and then click on the target object and it will bring over all of the looks as we’ve seen smart art is a great design tool but can also be a compelling slideshow tool letting you show action animations of your elements with the object created go to the animation menu and select the object i’m going to turn on the animation pane window for us to see the individual animation actions at the moment it’s empty but once i select our first action the item will show up in this window i just selected fly in and it flew in from the bottom let’s go ahead and see this in the actual slideshow i’ll start from this slide i’ll click and sure enough when i click on my presentation it flies in as a single object let’s go ahead and make some changes with this selected i’m now going to go over to the effect options one of the things you can do that’s specific to the animation is change how it’s flying in i’m going to fly in from the left and we’ll see that it’s going to be more effective seeing it come across let’s go ahead now and look at the specific things having to do with our smart object if i choose as one object it’s as if it’s a single drawing and it will come in as a single object from left to right let’s take a look however if i now choose all at once it treats each element as an individual items and there’s a slight delay as it comes across which is visually enhancing but what if i want to talk about them one by one by one i can change the affection option too one by one and now it’s going to take a click for it to show up for each box let’s take a look in the slideshow and now each object waits for me to click so i can talk about it and then bring it as i progress through my slide use your imagination to create some very cool smart art and animations for your slideshows there you go you can now master everything about smartart do check out the next video on choosing the proper layout for all of your idea transformations this was helpful then do like it and share it with friends and co-workers also please subscribe and help encourage me to make more free tutorials for you leave comments and questions below including your request for a specific powerpoint tutorial that you’d like for me to make for you want to see all of our free training then visit our full free powerpoint school at until next time go power up [Music]