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Formatting Arrows (Arrowheads) in PowerPoint 2011 for Mac

Learn how to format arrowheads for lines in PowerPoint 2011 for Mac.

Author: Geetesh Bajaj

Product/Version: Microsoft PowerPoint 2011
OS: Mac OS X

Date Created: August 8th 2011
Last Updated: August 8th 2011

Lines or outlines, whichever name you choose to call them are the perimeters of closed shapes, and the strokes in open shapes within PowerPoint -- you have already learned the basics of working with lines in PowerPoint 2011, and also how you can change their weight and dash styles. In this tutorial, we will take the line concept ahead, and show you how you can add arrowheads to some of these lines.

So why do we use the term "some" rather than "all" lines? That is because arrowheads can only be added to lines that are open shapes. Shapes, such as rectangles, circles, etc. are closed shapes. Regular line shapes, such as straight lines, curves, scribbles, etc. are open shapes. Figure 1 shows a line around a closed shape towards the left, and a simple line (an open shape) on the right. Arrowheads can be added only to open shapes, like the one to the right in Figure 1.

Samples of lines (outlines) in closed and open shapes
Figure 1: Samples of lines (outlines) in closed and open shapes

If you want to see some samples of lines with arrowheads on one or both sides of an open shape, refer to Figure 2.

Sample arrow styles (lines with arrows)
Figure 2: Sample arrow styles (lines with arrows)

Follow these steps to add or edit arrowheads to open shapes:

  1. Select the line to which you want to apply the arrowhead. Alternatively, if you just want to follow this tutorial step-by-step, launch PowerPoint. You will see the Presentation Gallery which allows you to set all attributes of your new presentation, such as a preset Theme or template. Make selections or just click Cancel in this gallery to open a blank presentation with a new slide -- PowerPoint 2011 users can change the slide layout of this slide to Blank by selecting Layout | Blank within the Home tab of the Ribbon.

  2. Within the Home tab of the Ribbon, locate the Insert group and click the Shape button (highlighted in red within Figure 3) to access the Shape gallery with different types of shape options. Select the Lines and Connectors option to bring up a sub-menu, and select the shape you prefer (see Figure 3). We chose the Line shape.

    Line shape selected in the Shape gallery
    Figure 3: Line shape selected in the Shape gallery

  3. Then, click and drag on the slide to insert the line. Select the line so that the Ribbon area now shows the Format tab, highlighted in red within Figure 4. Activate this Ribbon tab by clicking on it.

    Format tab of the Ribbon in PowerPoint
    Figure 4: Format tab of the Ribbon

    Note: 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.

  4. At this stage, you can also change the weight of the outline and also apply dash style to it. Remember that the size of the arrowhead is related to the weight (thickness) of the line.

  5. Within the Format tab, locate the Shape Styles group, and then click the Line button to access the Line drop-down gallery. Within this gallery, select the Arrows option to view the sub-gallery that you can see in Figure 5. Within this gallery, click on any Arrow style to apply it to the selected shape.

    Arrow styles available in the Arrows sub gallery
    Figure 5: Arrow styles available in the Arrows sub gallery

  6. If you want to customize the applied arrowheads, select the More Arrows option (which is the last option in the Arrows sub-gallery -- refer to Figure 5). This summons the Format Shape dialog box. In this dialog box, make sure that the Weights & Arrows tab within the Line panel is active, as shown in Figure 6. In this figure, all options except those related to the arrows have been faded out -- your dialog box will not have those areas faded out. These other options have already been explained in the tutorials for Weight and Dash Styles.

    Arrows options within Format Shape dialog box
    Figure 6: Arrows options within Format Shape dialog box

  7. Using the Arrows options, you can customize your arrow style by changing the Begin style, the End style, the Begin size, and the End size of the arrow. Figure 7 shows the Begin style drop-down -- the End style drop-down has the same options. In both of these drop-downs, you'll find 5 arrow styles, and a No Arrow option. You can choose any of these 5 styles. We have used Stealth Arrow style as you can see in Figure 7.

    Begin style arrowhead options
    Figure 7: Begin style arrowhead options

  8. You also have nine different choices for the size of the arrowhead, starting from Arrow L Size 1 to Arrow L Size 9 (letter L stands for left). Figure 8 shows you the Begin size drop-down, and not surprisingly, the End size drop-down offers the same options! But the only difference will be that the letter R (denoting Right) will replace the letter L.

    Begin arrow size options
    Figure 8: Begin arrow size options

  9. After choosing the required arrowhead style and size, click the OK button to apply them to the selected line. In Figure 9 you can see the initially selected line shape with arrowheads applied (compare to the line you see in Figure 4).

    Arrowheads applied to the line
    Figure 9: Arrowheads applied to the line

  10. Save your presentation often.

See Also:

Formatting Arrows (Arrowheads) in PowerPoint 2016 for Windows
Formatting Arrows (Arrowheads) in PowerPoint 2013 for Windows
Formatting Arrows (Arrowheads) in PowerPoint 2010 for Windows
Formatting Arrows (Arrowheads) in PowerPoint 2007 for Windows
Arrowheads and Arrow Styles for Lines in PowerPoint 2002 and 2003 for Windows


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