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Hierarchical Guide Options in PowerPoint 2016 for Windows

Learn about the hierarchical guide options in PowerPoint 2016 for Windows.


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Product/Version: PowerPoint 2016 for Windows

OS: Windows 7 and higher






Enabling Guides for your presentation slides helps ensure that your objects are easily aligned, and also in the same relative position in successive slides. But just enabling Guides is more like getting started. There’s so much more you can do, such as customizing the Guides themselves using hierarchical options. We have already explored the Guide options in PowerPoint 2016, and the options were limited to Guides on your actual slides.

PowerPoint 2016 also lets you work with Guides on a higher hierarchical level within the Slide Master and individual Slide Layouts. Depending upon whether you added Guides within the Slide Master, an individual Slide Layout, or even a normal slide, your Guides are color-coded for easy identification.

Follow these steps to learn how the Guides hierarchy works in PowerPoint 2016:

  1. Launch PowerPoint 2016, and make sure that your Guides are not enabled. To be sure, access the View tab of the Ribbon, and make sure that the Guides check-box is not selected (highlighted in red within Figure 1).
  2. Guides check-box not selected
    Figure 1: Guides check-box not selected
  3. Now access the View tab of the Ribbon, and click the Slide Master button (highlighted in red within Figure 2).
  4. Slide Master button
    Figure 2: Slide Master button
  5. This brings up the Slide Master view, as shown in Figure 3. Here, select the Slide Master (the larger thumbnail) within the pane on the right side (highlighted in red within Figure 3).
  6. Slide Master selected
    Figure 3: Slide Master selected
  7. Now, access the View tab and select the Guides check-box shown highlighted in red within Figure 4.
  8. Guides check-box selected
    Figure 4: Guides check-box selected
  9. Note: Selecting the Slide Master and making the Guides visible will influence all the Slide Layouts (and also slides) within that particular Slide Master.
  10. This makes the default Guides visible on the Slide Master, as shown in Figure 5. Note that these Guides are Red in color.
  11. Guides within Slide Master
    Figure 5: Guides within Slide Master
  12. Now, select any individual Slide Layout within the Slides pane (such as the one highlighted in blue within Figure 3, shown earlier on this page). This will show the selected Slide Layout in the Slide Area. Now right-click anywhere on the empty Slide Area to get a contextual menu, as shown in Figure 6. Within the contextual menu, select the Grid and Guides | Add Vertical Guide option (refer to Figure 6 again).
  13. Add Vertical Guide option to be selected
    Figure 6: Add Vertical Guide option to be selected
  14. This adds an orange colored Vertical Guide right above the previous red colored Vertical Guide, as shown zoomed in Figure 7, below.
  15. Zoomed in view of the Orange Vertical Guide overlapping the Red Vertical Guide
    Figure 7: Zoomed in view of the Orange Vertical Guide overlapping the Red Vertical Guide
  16. How do we know that this Orange Guide is overlapping the Red Guide? That's easy, just drag the added Orange Vertical Guide anywhere towards left or right to see the Red Guide beneath it (see zoomed view in Figure 8).
  17. Orange Guide being dragged
    Figure 8: Orange Guide being dragged
  18. Now, go back to Normal view. Here, you will see red colored Horizontal and Vertical Guides, and one Orange colored Vertical Guide. Now, add Horizontal and Vertical Guides on the active slide. You will see that grey colored Vertical Guides get added over the red colored Guide, as shown in Figure 9. What happened to the red Guides added to the Slide Master? Let's find out next.
  19. Guides within Normal view
    Figure 9: Guides within Normal view
  20. The Red Guides from the Slide Master are hidden beneath the Grey guides! If you drag either the Grey Horizontal or Vertical guides away from their default position, you will see the Red colored Guides below, as shown zoomed in Figure 10.
  21. Guides of all three colors visible on the slide
    Figure 10: Guides of all three colors visible on the slide
  22. To paraphrase, let us remember:
  • Red colored Guides are from Slide Master, and are placed at the bottom of the grey and orange guides.
  • Orange colored Guides are from Slide Layouts, and are placed between the red and the grey guides.
  • Grey colored Guides are for the Slides themselves, and are always placed atop the red and orange guides.
  1. It's for this reason that you should avoid recoloring your Guides (recoloring Guides has been explained in our Guide Options in PowerPoint 2016 tutorial). Red, Orange, and Grey are standardized colors for Guides.
  2. Note: You cannot select Guides placed within the Slide Master or the Slide Layouts within the Slides in Normal view. You can also not select Guides placed within the Slide Layout on your Slides in Normal view. However all guides will allow snapping and positioning of slide objects.
  3. You can add more Guides anywhere you want based on your requirement by dragging existing Guides or using options within the right-click contextual menu.

See Also:

Hierarchical Guide Options in PowerPoint 2016 for Mac
Hierarchical Guide Options in PowerPoint 2013 for Windows

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