Tutorial: Grids, Guidelines, Ruler and Snap to Grid

About this lesson

PowerPoint requires visual precision so use the power tools of Grids, Guidelines, Ruler, and Snap to Grid to make everything Picture Perfect. The tutorial covers everything you need to know and which tool to use when working with shapes and objects on your slide canvas.


  • 00:00 Intro
  • 00:55 Applicable Versions
  • 01:06 Hands-On Preview
  • 01:22 Managing the Ruler
  • 02:34 Guide Lines
  • 03:45 Add Additional Guides
  • 04:00 Changing Guide Colors
  • 04:40 Why Not Use Align Tool?
  • 05:08 Removing Guides
  • 05:19 Gridlines
  • 06:25 Changing Grid Setting Spacing
  • 07:22 Snap to Grid
  • 08:26 Smart Guides
  • 09:50 Even Distribution Smart Guides
  • 10:07 Pro Tip: Zoom In For Exact Positioning
  • 10:13 PowerPoint Slide Zoom
  • 10:33 Overriding Snap to Grid
  • 11:14 Wrap-Up


Subject Microsoft PowerPoint

Software Compatibility All Versions


Course Completed

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



Remember to subscribe to our YouTube channel by clicking the AUTO SUBSCRIBE! button below

Subscriptions help us create more free video training for YOU!



PowerPoint is a visual tool.

Crafting your individual slide to perfection requires precise controls of object placement. And that is where <click> Microsoft’s Grid & Guides dialog box comes into play.

Hi, this is Les from Power Up Training, where I share my decades of Microsoft Presentation experience with you for free.

This tutorial is all about careful placement and alignment of objects with the PowerPoint tools of Ruler, Guidelines, Gridlines, and Snap to Grid.  In about 10 minutes, you will learn all you need to know.

If you are here for a specific topic, use the YouTube chapter feature below in the play bar to jump to the topic of interest.

So let’s power up to Ruler, Guides, Snap and Gridlines in PowerPoint.

I am working in office 365 but these techniques work the same going back to powerpoint 2013. i’ll walk you through the settings but here’s a quick preview as i turn on the ruler and the grid lines there are subtle changes to our normal workspace with the guides showing up to help us better place our objects on the slide canvas but we want to go deeper in understanding how to use these refinements so let’s go do it the ruler is a multi-purpose tool to show our location on the slide and within the object placeholder like all of these aids you need to be in the view tab of the ribbon menu and then it’s just a check box to turn on and off once on it shows two rulers one at the top of the slide and one to the left by default it’s showing inches on the screen as long as i’m not editing text the ruler shows the center lines relative to the slide as zero and then the amount of inches away from the center line watch closely as i move the mouse there’s a small tick mark indicating showing precisely where i am on both the horizontal and vertical rulers however if i’m in a text box placeholder the ruler transforms into measuring the space inside the text placeholder and also as an added ability to manage tabs and margins see above for our detailed youtube tutorial on all about bullets tabs and margins while the ruler provides some positional help let’s add more visual clues on top of our slide canvas by turning on guides just before we need to be in the view tab of the ribbon menu and then it’s just a click away to turn on guides and once turned on two guidelines appear one at the center line of zero horizontally and one vertically to better see them i will hover my mouse over each one and we will see the double arrows show up where the guidelines are placed and if you look carefully you will see the guidelines appear over the working canvas area making it easier if you can see the faint lines to see the exact center of our slide but it’s rare that we want everything precisely in the middle so powerpoint lets us click and drag the default guides to a new location to help line up objects but we need more so if we right click on the guides we can add vertical and horizontal guides and then drag them around to help provide guides to align objects on our workspace canvas i’m using my video tutorial capture tool to zoom in but these dotted lines can be hard to see microsoft tries to help by letting us color different guides with some preset colors by right-clicking and changing the colors but even then it may be hard to make out the colors and the lines on your workspace so how to use guides they help you line up objects i’m going to drag down the horizontal guide to just below the triangle and get it just right then i’m going to take the star badge to line up to the bottom of the triangle using the guideline but there’s a question staring at us why not use the arrange tool that i cover in another youtube tutorial look closely at the star badge when selected the actual object border is way beyond the illustration so when i select the two objects and attempt to use the align tool to the bottom the results don’t look right so this is where the guides help me position the object in alignment by hand the last skill to learn for guides is how to get rid of specific dotted lines just click and drag off the canvas that simple once you know how if you end up adding lots of guides you may love grid lines because with a simple click you layer over a set of pre-done grids to line up it will look like you put graph paper over the top of your slide canvas area once again beyond the view tab of the ribbon menu find the grid line check box i’m turning it on and off and on and off for you to be able to see it change and to make it easier i’m going to turn off guides for the time being to control the one-off guides we just clicked and dragged but for grid lines we need to go down deeper to manage the grids by clicking the downward arrow to expand the menu for the moment we’ll focus only on grid settings because i clicked grid lines on the ribbon menu earlier it is already turned on here under display grid on screen that means that is only for our working screen environment all printouts and presentation slideshows will not display the grid the spacing section controls the amount of space between each dot on the dotted grid line the default is 1 12 of an inch the second dialog box is the same dimension but just displayed as a decimal so 1 12 inch is .08 inches as you can see if i change one spacing setting the other one will automatically calculate and show the matching decimal inch i’m going to change our settings from 1 12 of an inch to one quarter of an inch look carefully at the small dots on our grid line when i click ok they will now be wider apart to the size of one quarter of an inch or more precisely we went from 12 dots to four dots for each inch so how might we use the grid watch as i use the grid to line up my slide image along the top and left grid lines it does take a little work but i can make it close to perfect but there’s a better way to use the grid and that is to turn on snap to grid once enabled shapes and objects will jump to the nearest horizontal and vertical grid lines like two magnets attracted to each other based on the grid spacing that we covered a few moments ago to turn on you need to be in the grid and guys detailed menu as seen before and then toggle on the switch let’s try this out watch as i click and drag the slide image and it jumps to the next grid dot as opposed to smoothly moving click and drag and you’re on the grid mark it’s more obvious as we adjusted the grid to four dots per inch earlier let’s bring in a new image and see how easy it is to line them up now that snap to grid is on and the slide image has already been snapped i positioned the rectangle on the grid with the mouse but i can now do some fine tuning with my keyboard arrow keys to have a jump with one arrow tap on my keyboard at a time the last option to explore is smart guides when on powerpoint provides some subtle visual hints when moving objects to show their relationship to other objects and to the slide as a whole info such as if your objects are aligned bottom top or middle or if your object is centered on the page because these guides are so subtle i’m turning off the grid and guide to make the clues more visible i’ve also altered our example objects to put a purple frame around them so that we can visually see their exact size and border so as i move the star badge watch for the line to appear when i have the top of the badge and the slide image aligned and as i move it up you’ll see that it shows when we’re aligned center between the two objects and continuing up you’ll show another line when we have the bottoms aligned and here is a subtle clue the smart guide extends only to the object that is referenced as you can see at one point the smart guide extends to the edge of the slide indicating that the object is aligned to the center of the slide and not the object and when we have three objects in close proximity the smart guides are going off like fireworks and you need to pay close attention to what objects are being referenced to which items smart guys can also give us clues for evenly spacing between three objects watch as the text box moves left and right and when they’re equal spacing between the book and objects a set of spacing indicators pop up lastly here’s some pro tips i find when manually aligning objects and i want to get it just right it helps to zoom in on the canvas area to do that you could go to the view ribbon tab and work with the zoom setting but i prefer instead to work with the zoom slider at the bottom right corner of powerpoint as when i make adjustments here i instantly see the zoom change in a dynamic fashion okay let’s see about moving this red box around my text to get it just right here’s my problem with the snap to grid on it’s jumping too much it won’t let me properly position it but the trick is to hold down the control key on your keyboard and use the arrow keys to provide micro adjustments moving it ever so slightly with no snapping to grid and for fast and perfect adjustments do use the powerpoint tool of align and distribute found under the arrange tool see our detailed tutorial on the youtube channel

You now know how to take complete control of the placement of objects on your slide canvas.

If helpful, then like it and share it with your coworkers and friends.

Do Subscribe as subscriptions help me build more free PowerPoint training videos for you for free.

To see all our free PowerPoint training videos, visit us at our PowerPoint school website of power-up.training.

Until next time, go Power Up!