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Advanced Shadow Options in PowerPoint 2016 for Windows

Learn about options to edit the Shadow Effect in PowerPoint 2016 for Windows.


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Product/Version: Microsoft PowerPoint 2016

OS: Microsoft Windows 7 and higher






The shadow effect in PowerPoint adds more depth to your selected shape, and you may achieve the perfect shadow effect the very first time you use PowerPoint's default shadow options. However, you may want that shadow to be a wee bit longer, or just a little less pronounced. Or maybe you want the shadow to sport a color that's different. Figure 1 below shows some fancy shadow effects applied within PowerPoint.

Fancy shadow effects
Figure 1: Fancy shadow effects

These shadow effects are quite easy to achieve; follow these steps to get started in PowerPoint 2016:

  1. Select a shape that has been already applied with a Shadow, that you want to edit. The Ribbon will show the Drawing Tools Format tab, as shown highlighted in blue within Figure 2. Activate this Ribbon tab by clicking on it. Within the Drawing Tools Format tab, click the Shape Effects button (highlighted in red within Figure 2).

    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.
  2. This brings up the Shape Effects drop-down gallery, as shown in Figure 3. From this drop-down gallery, choose the Shadow option to bring up the Shadow sub-gallery. Now choose Shadow Options, as shown highlighted in red within Figure 3.

    Shadow Options within Shape effects drop-down gallery
    Figure 3: Shadow Options within Shape effects drop-down gallery
  3. This opens the Format Shape Task Pane with the Effects tab active, as shown highlighted in red within Figure 4.

    Shadow options within the Format Shape Task Pane
    Figure 4: Shadow options within the Format Shape Task Pane

    Shadow options within the Format Shape task pane are explained below, as marked in Figure 4, above:

    A. Presets: Click the down arrow next to the icon, which brings up the similar shadow gallery that you can see in Figure 3 above. See our Apply Shadow Effects to Shapes In PowerPoint 2016 tutorial for more information.

    B. Color: Allows you to change the shadow color. Click the down arrow next to color icon to access the Color drop-down menu as shown in Figure 5.

    Shadow color options
    Figure 5: Shadow color options

    Here, you can choose any color option for the shadow, as explained below:

    Theme Colors: Here you can select any of the colors which are from the active Theme of the presentation. You can also select any of the 5 tints or shades for any Theme color. Learn more about Themes here.

    Standard Colors: Here you can choose from any of the ten standard colors -- these ten standard colors are just choices of colors that PowerPoint believes to be widely used. You don't have to limit yourself to either the Theme colors or Standard colors, as you'll learn in the next options, although it's a good design idea to use Theme colors as far as possible.

    Recent Colors: Here you can find the colors most recently used. If you have just launched PowerPoint and created a new presentation, the Recent Colors option may be entirely absent since you haven't selected any color recently!

    More Colors: This option is to summon the Color dialog box, which helps you to create your own new color for the picture border. To learn more about how to work with the Color option, read our Add Solid Fills to Shapes in PowerPoint 2016 for Windows tutorial; explore step 3E in that tutorial. Even though the option explained in that tutorial is More Fill Colors, the Color dialog box options work similarly for More Colors option too.

    C. Transparency: Allows you to alter the transparency of the shadow. You can use the slider, or type the shadow transparency value in percentages.

    D. Size: Use the slider or enter the shadow size value in percentages to increase or decrease the size (spread) of the shadow.

    E. Blur: This option makes the edges of the shadow more feathered (merged with the background). Again you can use the slider, or enter the blur value in points.

    F. Angle: This slider changes the angle of the shadow in relation to the shape.

    G. Distance: Allows you to format the starting and the ending point of the shadow in relation to the position of the shape. You can use the slider or insert the distance value in points.
  4. Play around with the shadow options untill you get the perfect shadow effect. In Figure 6, you can see the changes we made to various Shadow editing options within the Format Shape Task Pane, and towards right, you can also see the Live Preview of the chagnes on the selected Star shape. Once you are happy with the result, close the Format Shape Task Pane and get back to the slide.

    Shadow edited
    Figure 6: Shadow edited
  5. Remember to save your presentation often.

See Also:

Advanced Shadow Effect Options in PowerPoint 2013 for Windows
Advanced Shadow Effect Options in PowerPoint 2011 for Mac
Advanced Shadow Effect Options in PowerPoint 2010 for Windows
Advanced Shadow Effect Options in PowerPoint 2007 for Windows
Shadow Settings in PowerPoint 2002 and 2003 for Windows

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