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Gradient Lines for Shapes in PowerPoint 2011 for Mac

Apply gradients to lines in PowerPoint 2011 for Mac. Gradients work best with thicker lines.

Working with the different line types in PowerPoint 2011 is such a learning experience, if you have explored this entire series with us, you know that you can change the weight, dash styles, and arrowheads for lines. But there's more in this tutorial, you will learn about Gradient Lines. Now, Gradient is an attribute that's rarely associated with lines but once you start playing with Gradient Lines, you will find that the results can provide a surprisingly different look, especially when applied to lines that are thicker in weight. This Gradient attribute is not accessible from the Line gallery on the Ribbon, but has been included in the Line panel of the Format Shape dialog box. But first of all, let us see some examples of Gradient Lines (see Figure 1).

Figure 1: Sample gradient lines

To see a sample presentation containing Gradient Lines in PowerPoint, scroll down to the bottom of this page.

Follow these steps to apply gradients to selected lines (or shape outlines):

  1. Select the shape that you want to change the outline for. 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 to access the Shape gallery with different types of shape options. Select the Line shape or any closed shape if you are applying gradient to the outline of the closed shape, and then click and drag on the slide to insert the shape, or click once on the blank slide to place an instance of the shape.
  3. Select the shape so that the Ribbon area now shows the Format tab, as shown in Figure 2 (highlighted in red). Activate this Ribbon tab by clicking on it.

  4. Figure 2: Format tab of the Ribbon
  5. 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.
  6. To make the Gradient Line stand out, change the weight of the line to anything higher than 10 pt. Choosing 20 pt. is even better!
  7. Right click (or Ctrl + click) the shape, to open the context menu shown in Figure 3. Choose the Format Shape option (refer to Figure 3 again).

  8. Figure 3: Format Shape option
  9. Alternatively, you can also select the Line Effects option in the Line drop-down gallery (which has been highlighted in red within Figure 4) to access the Format Shape dialog box.

  10. Figure 4: Select Line Effects option to access Format Shape dialog box
  11. Either way, you will face the Format Shape dialog box, as shown in Figure 5. Make sure that the Line panel is active in the sidebar, and select the Gradient tab (highlighted in red within Figure 5). Here you will find all options to apply gradients to lines, as shown in Figure 5.

  12. Figure 5: Gradient options for Line within the Format Shape dialog box
  13. The Gradient options within Format Shape dialog box are explained below:

  14. A. Style

  15. There are five gradient styles available (see Figure 6), these are None (which can be helpful if you want to remove pre-applied gradients and change them to solid color lines), Linear, Radial, Rectangular, and Path (see Figure 6). When no Gradient Line has been added to the shape, the default style will be None (as you can see in Figure 6). All other gradient styles have been explained below:

  16. Figure 6: Gradient Style drop-down list
    1. Linear gradient styles are either horizontal or vertical gradients although they can be diagonal to any degree, use the Angle option explained later on this page to change the degree. Figure 7 shows some samples of the same linear gradient outlines rotated to different angle values. We normally don't use gradients that are so gaudy, but since our previews are so small, we thought this sort of gradient will bring out the differences in gradient types well!

    2. Figure 7: Shapes with linear gradient outlines rotated to different angle values
    3. Radial gradient styles start with one color from a center position, and then merge into other colors towards the edge of the shape they fill. You can change the position of the center from which the gradient radiates to either the center, or any of the four corners as you can see in Figure 8. If your radial gradient has many color handles with contrasting colors, the gradient might end up looking like concentric lines rather than smooth gradients, that's exactly what has happened in Figure 8, but use a simpler two color gradient, and you'll see more subtle results.

    4. Figure 8: Shapes with radial gradient outlines centered from different positions
    5. Rectangular gradient styles are the same as radial gradients in all ways, but they spread out from a center position in a rectangular (or square) form rather than a circular form. Compare Figures 8 and 9 and you'll understand what we are explaining! Again, you can change the position of the center from which the gradient merges to either the center, or any of the four corners as you can see in Figure 9.

    6. Figure 9: Shapes with rectangular gradient outlines centered from different positions
    7. Path gradient styles again are similar to radial or rectangular gradient types, but they follow a path, so a circular shape shows a circular gradient, a curved arrow shows a curved gradient, and so forth, see Figure 10. Not surprisingly, a path gradient or a radial gradient within a circle may look the same, as you can see in the bottom-left shape in Figure 10.

    8. Figure 10: Shapes with path gradient outlines

    B. Angle

  17. Sets the angle of the gradient (see Figure 11). Angle direction applies to Linear style only.

  18. Figure 11: Angle
  19. There are 3 ways to set the angle direction of a Gradient Outline:
    1. Click the dot on the round control and drag around the circle.
    2. Type a specific value into the spinner control.
    3. Click the spinner control's up and down arrow buttons.

    C. Direction

  20. Click this pop-up to choose a gradient direction from several different positions for the shape’s outline as shown in Figure 12. This option is not available for the Linear and Path style gradients. This control can be used instead of Angle direction when working with Radial or Rectangular styles.

  21. Figure 12: Direction
  22. D. Gradient

  23. This is the first option within the Color and Transparency section. Each color handle underneath the Live Preview rectangle represents a color in your gradient (see Figure 13). To control the gradient handle’s blending percentage within the gradient, you can either drag the color handles left and right or enter the percentage value in the gradient handle’s spinner control or use the gradient handle’s spinner control buttons (up and down arrow buttons).

  24. Figure 13: Gradient live preview rectangle
  25. E. Add Color and Delete Color

  26. Each time you click the Add Color button, a new color handle is added next the the active handle beneath the Live Preview rectangle and become the selected handle. Clicking Delete Color button deletes the currently selected color handle and it's associated gradient color. In Figure 14 you can see both of them.

  27. Figure 14: Add Color and Delete Color buttons
  28. F. Color

  29. Displays the color palette (see Figure 15) so that you can choose a color to apply to the currently selected color handle. If you want any other color you can also summon Mac OS X Color picker by selecting More Colors option. Mac OS X Color picker allows you to select any color of your choice and also to change the luminosity of the selected color.

  30. Figure 15: Color palette
  31. G. Transparency

  32. Drag the slider (see Figure 16) or use the spinner control to adjust transparency of the selected color handle.

  33. Figure 16: Transparency slider
  34. Note: When you are making changes to the shape attributes within Format Shape dialog box, you can see the Live Preview of the changes in the selected shape. So, always place the Format Shape dialog box on the slide such that it won't hide the selected shape.
  35. Once you have selected the gradient style and made changes, click the OK button to apply it to the selected shape's outline. In Figure 17 you can see the gradient style applied to the Rectangle shape outline that was selected earlier (refer to Figure 3 above).

  36. Figure 17: Gradient style applied to the Rectangle shape outline
  37. Don't forget to save your presentation often.
Tip: If you use a Gradient Line on a shape that has no fill, you will attain a simple look that will make the actual shape area transparent thus resting the entire focus to the Gradient Line. To change the fill of a shape to none, look at our No Fill in PowerPoint 2011 for Mac tutorial.

Sample presentation for Gradient Lines in PowerPoint:

Click below to view on SlideShare

Click below to view on YouTube

See Also:

Shape Lines: Gradient Lines for Shapes (Glossary Page)

Gradient Lines for Shapes in PowerPoint 2016 for Windows
Gradient Lines for Shapes in PowerPoint 2016 for Mac
Gradient Lines for Shapes in PowerPoint 2013 for Windows
Gradient Lines for Shapes in PowerPoint 2010 for Windows
Gradient Lines for Shapes in PowerPoint 2007 for Windows