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Change Default Shape Attributes in PowerPoint 2016 for Windows

Learn how to set default attributes for shapes in PowerPoint 2016 for Windows. You can set deafults for open and closed shapes, and fills and lines.


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Product/Version: PowerPoint 2016 for Windows

OS: Microsoft Windows 7 and higher



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When you insert a new shape on a slide in PowerPoint 2016 for Windows (or in any previous version), by default it is filled with a solid color and an outline (or something else depending on the Theme your presentation is based on). For example in a new blank presentation that we created, the shape is by default filled with a blue solid fill and has a thin dark blue outline, as you can see in Figure 1. Whenever we insert another new shape on a slide, it will possess these same default shape attributes (fill, outline, and effect).

Default fill and outline in a blank presentation
Figure 1: Default fill and outline in a blank presentation

These default shape attributes can be changed very easily in PowerPoint 2016. But do remember that these changes are only limited to the presentation you are working on. If the presentation is not saved, you'll lose the changes.

Follow these steps to change the default shape attributes of your open presentation in PowerPoint 2016 for Windows:

  1. Launch PowerPoint 2016 for Windows. Most of the time, PowerPoint will open with a new slide in a presentation. You can optionally change the slide layout to Blank by selecting the Home tab | Layout | Blank option.
  2. Now, insert a shape (any shape will do) on the slide. Typically, the shape is filled with blue and has a thin dark blue outline, as can be seen in Figure 1, shown previously on this page. If you see different attributes, don't worry, just move ahead with the rest of the steps.
  3. Select the shape so that the Ribbon area now shows the Drawing Tools Format tab, as shown highlighted in blue within Figure 2. Activate this Ribbon tab by clicking on it.
  4. Drawing Tools Format tab of the Ribbon
    Figure 2: Drawing Tools Format tab of the Ribbon
  5. 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.
  6. Within the Drawing Tools Format tab, click the down-arrow within the Shape Fill button (highlighted in red within Figure 3) to view the Shape Fill drop-down gallery that you can see in Figure 3. Choose any of the fill types as required.
  7. Shape Fill drop-down gallery
    Figure 3: Shape Fill drop-down gallery
  8. Now, with the shape still selected click the down-arrow within the Shape Outline button (highlighted in red within Figure 4) in the Drawing Tools Format tab to bring up a drop-down gallery that you can see in Figure 4. Within this sub-gallery, choose any weight (thickness) value for the selected shape. Learn more in our Formatting Outlines for Shapes (Dashes) in PowerPoint 2016 for Windows tutorial.
  9. Weight sub-gallery
    Figure 4: Weight sub-gallery
  10. You can even change the shape outline to be dashed by selecting the Dashes option within the Shape Outline galleryy. Doing so opens the Dashes sub-gallery that you can see in Figure 5. Within this sub-gallery, choose any dash style for the selected shape. Learn more in our Formatting Outlines for Shapes (Weight/Thickness) in PowerPoint 2016 for Windows tutorial.
  11. Dashes sub-gallery
    Figure 5: Dashes sub-gallery
  12. Figure 6, below shows the shape with a different fill and outline attributes. At this point of time, you can also play with effects such as reflection, glows, etc. You can format your default shape as you want.
  13. Changed shape
    Figure 6: Changed shape
  14. Now select the shape and right-click it to bring up the contextual menu, as shown in Figure 7. From the menu choose the Set as Default Shape option, as shown highlighted in red within Figure 7.
  15. Set as Default Shape option to be selected
    Figure 7: Set as Default Shape option to be selected
  16. This will set the attributes of the selected shape as default shape attributes. Hereafter, whenever you'll insert a new shape in the same presentation, it will appear with these attributes.
  17. Make sure you save the presentation file.
Note: You can change the thickness of an open shape such as a line, change its color, and then right-click and choose Set as Default Shape option. Thereafter, draw straight lines, arrows, and connector shapes, and those shapes will take your new attributes. But PowerPoint 2016 does not respect these default shape attributes for these open shapes: Curve, Freeform Shape, and Freeform Scribble. You need to set new default attributes for these three open shapes, using one of them.

See Also:

Default Attributes: Change Default Shape Attributes (Glossary Page)

Change Default Shape Attributes in PowerPoint 2013 for Windows
Change Default Shape Attributes in PowerPoint 2011 for Mac
Change Default Shape Attributes in PowerPoint 2010 for Windows
Change Default Shape Attributes in PowerPoint 2007 for Windows

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