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Add Gradient Fills to Shapes in PowerPoint 2016 for Windows

Learn to use Gradient fills for selected shapes in PowerPoint 2016.


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Product/Version: Microsoft PowerPoint 2016
OS: Windows 7 and higher






Gradient fills are typically blended fills between two or more colors that graduate from one color to another. Although shapes filled with gradients look so incredible, make sure you choose the colors that form the gradient very carefully. PowePoint's basic gradients are all very useable since they just blend a basic color with white or black making the result lighter or darker, as shown in Figure 1, below.

Basic gradient fills for shapes
Figure 1: Basic gradient fills for shapes

These lighter or darker gradients work well all the time. However when you start customizing your gradients, you could end up with gaudy gradients that make your slides look bad and also affect readability of any text within your shape -- we look at custom gradients within our More Gradients in PowerPoint 2016 tutorial.

Scroll down this page to see a sample presentation that contains shapes with gradient fills. Then follow these steps to change or apply a basic gradient fill to a shape PowerPoint 2016:

  1. Open your presentation and select the shape that you want to fill with a gradient.

    Alternatively, if you want to start from scratch, launch PowerPoint. You will see the Presentation Gallery -- here, select the Blank Presentation to open a blank presentation with a new slide -- you can change the Slide Layout to Blank by selecting the Home tab | Layout | Blank option. Then, insert a shape and select it.
  2. We selected a Star shape, as shown in Figure 2. Selecting the shape brings up the Drawing Tools Format tab in the Ribbon, as shown highlighted in red within Figure 2. Activate this Ribbon tab by clicking on it.

    Drawing Tools Format tab of the Ribbon
    Figure 2: Drawing Tools Format tab of the Ribbon

    Note: The Drawing Tools Format tab is a Contextual tab. These tabs are special tabs in the Ribbon that are not visible all the time -- they only make an appearance when you are working with a particular slide object which can be edited using special options.
  3. Within the Drawing Tools Format tab, click the right-side portion of the Shape Fill button as shown highlighted in red within Figure 3. This bring up the Shape Fill drop-down gallery, shown in Figure 3. Within the Shape Fill drop-down gallery, choose the Gradient option to bring up the Gradient sub-gallery, as shown highlighted in blue within Figure 3.

    Gradient sub-gallery within the Shape Fill drop-down gallery
    Figure 3: Gradient sub-gallery within the Shape Fill drop-down gallery

    Within the Gradient sub-gallery (refer to Figure 3 above) you'll see gradient variations based on the Theme applied to the open presentation or slides. The options within the Gradient sub-gallery are explained below:

    • No Gradient: Changes the fill to just a solid color. This is the option you can use if you already have a shape with a gradient fill that you want to restore to a shape with a solid fill.

    • Light Variations: In this option gradients are formed in various directions with the default color merged with white or a light color. These colors are based on the active Theme.

    • Dark Variations: In this variation gradients are formed in various directions with the default color merged with black or a dark color. Again, these colors are based on the active Theme.

    • More Gradients: This option allows you to create your own gradients -- look at our More Gradients page to learn more.
  4. Click on the gradient type you want to use as a fill for your selected shape from the Gradient sub-gallery. Figure 4 shows the shape with a light variation gradient fill.

    Shape with gradient fill
    Figure 4: Shape with gradient fill
  5. Once you are done, save your presentation.
Tip: If your slide has many shapes that you want to fill with the same type of gradient, or even any other fill type, select all the shapes before you click on any of the fill options. This lets you add or change the fill of all selected shapes at one time.

Sample Presentation of Gradient Fill in Shape:

Click below to view this presentation on SlideShare

Click below to view this presentation on YouTube

See Also:

Add Gradient Fills to Shapes in PowerPoint 2013 for Windows
Add Gradient Fills to Shapes in PowerPoint 2011 for Mac
Add Gradient Fills to Shapes in PowerPoint 2010 for Windows
Add Gradient Fills to Shapes in PowerPoint 2007 for Windows
Add Gradient Fills to AutoShapes in PowerPoint 2002 and 2003 for Windows

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Have your ever used keyboard shortcuts and sequences in PowerPoint? Or are you a complete keyboard aficionado? Do you want to learn about some new shortcuts? Or do you want to know if your favorite keyboard shortcuts are documented?

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