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Formatting Outlines for Shapes (Dashes) in PowerPoint 2016 for Windows

Learn how to apply the dash attribute to shape outlines in PowerPoint 2016 for Windows.


Product/Version: PowerPoint 2016 for Windows

OS: Windows 7 and higher

We have already explored how to format shape outlines and change their weight. In this tutorial, you will learn how to apply a Dash style to shape outline. A dashed line can have plenty of variations: from a line with fewer dashes to ones with longer or smaller dashes, or even alternating small and long dashes. Figure 1 shows you some variations in Dash styles available in PowerPoint 2016. So why do you add a Dash style to your outline? That's a good question and the answer is quite simple, sometimes, Dash styles can add value to visual content, but use them judiciously. Many diagrams use dashed lines as a way to differentiate them from other content that have conventional, non-dashed lines.

Dash attribute variations in outlines
Figure 1: Dash style variations in outlines

Tip: You can change the outlines for both shapes and pictures in PowerPoint 2016, you can also add a shape outline to an inserted movie using the same options!

Follow these steps to change Dash styles for shape outlines in PowerPoint 2016:

  1. Open your presentation and select the shape that you want to format.

    Alternatively, if you want to start from scratch, launch PowerPoint. You will see the Presentation Gallery, here, select the Blank Presentation option 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 Rectangle shape, as shown in Figure 2, as you can see in the figure, we have increased the weight of the outline of the Rectangle so that the dash effect we apply later can be clearly visible. When the shape is selected, you can see the Drawing Tools Format tab in the Ribbon, as shown highlighted in red within Figure 2. Activate this Ribbon tab by clicking on it.

    Rectangle shape inserted and selected
    Figure 2: Rectangle shape inserted and selected

    Note: The Drawing Tools Format tab is a Contextualtab. 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 Outline button (highlighted in red within Figure 3). This brings up the Shape Outline drop-down gallery, as shown in Figure 3. From the Shape Outline drop-down gallery, choose Dashes to bring up the Dashes sub-gallery, as shown in Figure 3. You can choose from any of the available options here.

    Shape Outline drop-down gallery
    Figure 3: Shape Outline drop-down gallery
  4. These same options are also available within Format Shape Task Pane as shown in Figure 4. To access this Task Pane, you just have to click the More Lines option highlighted in blue within Figure 4, above.

    Dash type option in the Format Shape Task Pane
    Figure 4: Dash type option in the Format Shape Task Pane

    Note: As you can see, all of the options other than Dash type in Figure 4 have been grayed out in the screenshot. These other options have already been explained in the Formatting Outlines for Shapes in PowerPoint 2016 -- Weight tutorial page.
    Within the Format Shape Task Pane select the Dash type option to reveal a drop-down list from where you can choose any of the Dash styles available for shape outlines, as shown in Figure 5.

    Dash types in the Format Shape Task Pane
    Figure 5: Dash types in the Format Shape Task Pane
  5. After choosing required dash type, you can see the changed shape outline, as shown in Figure 6. Note that the Rectangle we started with has a Square Dot Dash style applied. You can identify the Dash style via a tool tip that shows when you hover your cursor over any of the available options (see Figure 5, above).

    Shape with Square dot Dash style applied to the outline
    Figure 6: Shape with Square dot Dash style applied to the outline
  6. Save your presentation often.

See Also:

Formatting Outlines for Shapes in PowerPoint 2013 for Windows -- Dash
Dashed Lines in PowerPoint 2011 for Mac
Formatting Outlines for Shapes in PowerPoint 2010 for Windows -- Dash
Formatting Outlines -- Weight and Dash Type in PowerPoint 2007 for Windows

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