Tutorial: Align & Distribute Shapes

About this lesson

Visually enhance shapes on PowerPoint slides with the Arrange tool to perfectly ALIGN and DISTRIBUTE shapes. A professional-looking slide must have objects & shapes perfectly aligned and evenly distributed on each slide. Learn the Arrange tool to get done fast and right!


  • 0:00 Intro
  • 01:29 Office 365 back to Office 2013 Versions
  • 01:39 Preview of What Align Does
  • 02:10 Must-Know: Object Selection Hints
  • 02:41 Must-Know: How To Select with Keyboard and Mouse
  • 03:03 Must-Know #2: Mouse Selecting with the Lasso Method
  • 03:51 Issues using Mouse Selection – How To Fix
  • 05:26 The Arrange Tool, where to find
  • 05:55 What are the Six Alignment Choices?
  • 06:25 Using the Alignment Tools on Objects
  • 07:59 What are the Two Distribute Object Choices?
  • 08:20 Using Distribute Horizontal and Vertical
  • 08:55 Align to Slide or to Objects
  • 09:03 Can’t Turn Off Align to Slide
  • 10:11 TRICK: Align Diagonally
  • 10:46 Wrap-Up



Subject Microsoft PowerPoint

Software Compatibility All Versions

Level Tips

Course Completed Complete

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



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[Music] welcome to align and distribute shapes in powerpoint with your range tool this is les from powerup training where i provide my decades of experience to you for free your slides need to look picture perfect and if you have an object that’s just slightly off it will distract your audience if they mentally try to realign your shapes on your slide and not pay attention to what you’re talking about in this tutorial we go deep into managing your shapes with the powerpoint align tool with time proven tricks along the way we’re going to go deep into this all about alignment about how to evenly distribute shapes and objects as always you’re going to find the topic chapters down below where if you use your mouse to hover around you’re going to be able to jump from chapter to chapter over the play bar this tutorial is one of a pair of videos using the arrange tool the video is all about moving objects in two dimensions and aligning them and distribute them on a single plane the twin matching tutorial that you’ll find listed above is all about moving through three dimensions through layers of powerpoint slides so let’s go ahead and power up into a line and distribute shapes in powerpoint i am working on the latest version of office 365 and all of these techniques work the same as far back as office 2013. let’s do a quick preview of the align tool i’m going to use my mouse to select all four objects by holding down my mouse button and lassoing all four objects now to align all the objects vertically based on their center line i will click the action icon of arrange and then the sub menu of a line and choose align middle and presto they’re now all aligned so let’s get into this before we go too far we need to make sure we understand how to identify when an object is selected so that we can confirm that we’re aligning the right objects when selected an object will show eight dots around the corner of the object we call them grab handles as you can grab and resize the object that way on this slide the object is the image of the object plus the text callout i have three of the eight grab handles highlighted with the red arrows keep an eye out for the clues of which objects are selected as we move through this tutorial we also need to know how to select objects the first of two techniques is with the keyboard and mouse select the object that you want click to select next while holding down the control key click all the additional objects that you’ll want to align the selection order does not matter we can also use our mouse to lasso the objects but there can be challenges when there are multiple objects on the page and we don’t want to select them all when i click on an object we see that it is selected with the grab handles but to lasso all the objects we need to click outside the collection of objects and not click the items we don’t want the four-way arrow indicates that we’re about to move the object but we want to select it so to be able to lasso we need to find the right spot that shows just a regular cursor single arrow and then click and drag to the far edge of the top item and when i reach the top edge i let go of the mouse and we have properties lassoed all four objects see how they have the grab handles if i click outside they then become deselected the lasso technique is great but does have some challenges as we can see if i click near the check mark object in an attempt to lasso i end up dragging the check mark and not lassoing so i need to pay close attention to the appearance of the selection grab handles and the dotted line to know if i’ve accidentally selected a nearby object watch on the top right corner where i have a similar problem but this time instead of the check mark object it’s my larger horizontal slash vertical cheat sheet icon getting accidentally selected and if i click on my text i’m now stuck inside the text editing box and cannot do any lassoing until i get out and lastly there are issues with last swing if i do not go outside the full collection of objects see how i don’t completely go outside the bottom left corner of object one and i leave it partially unselected and when i let go it’s no longer in the collection let’s do another failed attempt to lasso this time i’m going to start properly on the bottom left corner when i drag up i don’t quite get the full object 4 and see how object 4 is no longer selected so another miss so word of warning make sure you are lassoing completely outside the area of the objects you want or stick with the keyboard method we saw earlier going forward everything will be about the arrange action icon for laying out our objects the arrange icon can be seen when on the home menu in the ribbon menu by itself a range icon does nothing other than drop down the list for more actual commands and we’ll be exploring the sub menu of a line but first see how it disappears when you’re in any other menu so make sure you’re on the home menu to see the arrange action icon so what can we do with the line starting with controlling the two-dimensional space layouts we can perform one of six alignment commands either horizontally or vertically while our tutorial has a cheat sheet image of the horizontal and vertical motions fortunately powerpoint aids us with tiny pictures of what the command will do see the example of a line middle picture for the aligning objects horizontally through their middles so let’s go do it i have all four objects selected and i want them to align left so i will click on the arrange icon and then the sub menu of a line and there i will choose a line left see how they align to the farthest left edge of the farthest left object which is object one let me undo this by doing ctrl z and we’ll repeat the command to align center so i’m going to choose a range within the arrange command i’ll then go down to a line and with an align i’m going to choose a line center and in this case it aligned center for the group of objects right down the middle those are both commands moving the objects left and or right so let’s now switch to moving up and down starting with a line top i’ll do a control z to undo and then i’ll click arrange align and the sub menu align top this time the red object 4 was the highest object so everything aligned to the top of object 4. so one more time to align middle but i’m going to draw an approximate location of the middle of all four objects and then see how they all align at the middle and of course it will work with different size objects and different types of objects as i run through an example it becomes more obvious how powerpoint focuses on the farthest edge to do the alignments no matter how big or small each item is let’s switch gears from aligning objects to evenly distributing objects basically putting equal amounts of space between objects i’m starting with the distributed vertically with our four different types of objects instead of estimating the spacing we can select them all and tell powerpoint to distribute vertically between the top edge and the bottom edge so like before i choose a range and i choose a line but this time i’m going to choose distribute horizontally and look at how they spread out with equal space between each item now in the next example i will distribute them horizontally with the matching commands do pay attention how the edges of the two extreme objects are the anchors and powerpoint calculates the correct spacing in between all four objects here’s the last concept to master alignment to the slide and not to the objects we’ll start off with a quirk with just a single object selected the command to align object is no longer available because you just have one object selected and there’s nothing to line it with however with two objects selected the command aligns like an object returns but powerpoint does give you the ability to align to the slide i’m going to select align to slide and when we go back into the menu we will see that it is now turned on affecting all future actions so if i choose align to left both objects now line up to the left side of the slide let me undo it and this time i’m going to choose a range a line and choose to the bottom of the slide and you’ll see sure enough it goes to the bottom edge for both objects all i do this time i’m going to choose to go into the middle and it’s going to go into the middle of the slide with equal space from the top to the bottom i recommend that if you do use this feature that you do remember to toggle it off when done now for my pro tip how to align things diagonally by default powerpoint does not have this command but you can make it happen by going in selecting the object and you want to do is you want to do two distributes once horizontally as you see here with equal space between them from left to right then again vertically and now it’s going to separate them and spread them out evenly from top to bottom creating a perfectly set of diagonally organized shapes and that’s a cool tip there you go now you know everything you need to know about distributing objects across the page and lining them up please subscribe to our youtube channel here so that you can encourage me to make more free training for you if you’ve got comments leave them down below or ideas for future training videos that you’d like for me to create for you give us a like share it and visit us for all of our training at our always free website of power dash up dot training until next time go power up you