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Align Shapes in PowerPoint 2016 for Windows

Learn how to align shapes in PowerPoint 2016.


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






When you believe in the freedom of creativity, you may not want to restraint objects on a slide to be aligned geometrically. Indeed, you may want everything placed in an organic, non-aligned manner. Ultimately, the decision to align is influenced by the scenario -- sometimes it works, and some other times, an unaligned bunch of shapes looks perfectly natural and organic, as you can see in the two different examples shown in Figure 1, below.

Alignment works great many times, but is better not done at other times
Figure 1: Alignment works great many times, but is better not done at other times

Look closely again at Figure 1, and you'll tend to agree that the bunch of circles on the right seems to follow a natural S curve and aligning them all in the same straight line would not benefit at all. On the other hand, the bunch of rectangles on the left certainly benefits from being aligned in a straight line.

Also remember that alignment works with more than just shapes -- and you can also combine shapes with other slide objects and align them all together. Now for those times when you place shapes on a PowerPoint slide anywhere you want, and then you need these shapes to be arranged in a straight line -- follow these steps to learn more:

  1. Open your presentation in PowerPoint 2016, and navigate to the slide which contains the shapes to be aligned, and select all the shapes which you want to align.
  2. Access the Home tab of the Ribbon, and click the Arrange button. You'll find the Align option in the resultant gallery -- clicking this option brings up the Align sub-gallery (see Figure 2).

    Tip: If you use the Align tools often, consider adding them to your Quick Access Toolbar by customizing it.

    Align sub-gallery
    Figure 2: Align sub-gallery

    Note: Before starting aligning the shapes make sure the Align Selected Objects option is activated in the Align sub-gallery (highlighted in blue within Figure 2 above).
  3. The Align sub-gallery provides six align options (highlighted in red within Figure 2 above):

    The Align Left, Align Center, and Align Right options work with shapes and slide objects suitable for vertical alignment on the slide, as shown in Figure 3.

    Shapes placed for vertical alignment on the slide
    Figure 3: Shapes placed for vertical alignment on the slide

    • Align Left: Here the left-most shape within the selection determines the left point for alignment of all the shapes, as shown in Figure 4.

      Shapes aligned to left
      Figure 4: Shapes aligned to left

    • Align Center: This option calculates the center of all the objects by determining the left-most and right-most points -- and then determining the center. This command will align all the shapes vertically along their centers (see Figure 5).

      Shapes aligned to center
      Figure 5: Shapes aligned to center

    • Align Right: Here the right-most shape within the selection determines the right point for alignment of all the shapes, see Figure 6.

      Shapes aligned to right
      Figure 6: Shapes aligned to right

    The Align Top, Align Middle, and Align Bottom options are suitable for selected shapes and other slide objects, placed horizontally on the slide, as shown in Figure 7.

    Shapes placed for horizontal alignment on the slide
    Figure 7: Shapes placed for horizontal alignment on the slide

    • Align Top: Here the top-most shape within the selection determines the top point for alignment of all the shapes, as shown in Figure 8.

      Shapes aligned to top
      Figure 8: Shapes aligned to top

    • Align Middle: This option calculates the middle of all the objects by determining the top-most and bottom-most points -- and then determining the middle. This command will align all the shapes horizontally along their middles (see Figure 9).

      Shapes aligned to middle
      Figure 9: Shapes aligned to middle

    • Align Bottom: Here the bottom-most shape within the selection determines the bottom point for alignment of all the shapes, as shown in Figure 10.

      Shapes aligned to bottom
      Figure 10: Shapes aligned to bottom
  4. Don't forget to save your presentation often.
Note: The steps explained above show the alignment technique by using the Arrange | Align options. You can easily align shapes using the Smart Guides in PowerPoint 2013.

See Also:

Align Shapes in PowerPoint 2013 for Windows
Align Shapes in PowerPoint 2011 for Mac
Align Shapes in PowerPoint 2010 for Windows

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