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New Hierarchical Guide Options in PowerPoint 2013 for Windows

Learn about the new hierarchical Guide options in PowerPoint 2013.


Product/Version: Microsoft PowerPoint 2013
OS: Windows 7 and higher

Enabling Guides for your presentation slides is a great way to make sure that your objects are aligned -- and often in the same position in successive slides. Any professional PowerPoint designer will agree with the fact that Guides can be so helpful! Additionally, they may wail that Guides in PowerPoint are very basic, and cannot be customized further. Fortunately, PowerPoint 2013 changed these perception with new features that let you use and customize your Guides extensively. We have already explored the new Guide options in PowerPoint 2013 -- those options were limited to Guides on your actual slides. PowerPoint 2013 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 2013:

  1. Launch PowerPoint 2013, and make sure that your Guides are not enabled -- to do that, access the View tab of the Ribbon, and make sure that the Guides check-box is not selected (highlighted in red within Figure 1).

    Guides check-box not selected
    Figure 1: Guides check-box not selected
  2. Now access the View tab of the Ribbon, and click the Slide Master button (highlighted in red within Figure 2).

    Slide Master button
    Figure 2: Slide Master button
  3. 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).

    Slide Master selected
    Figure 3: Slide Master selected
  4. Now, access the View tab and select the Guides check-box shown highlighted in red within Figure 4.

    Guides check-box selected
    Figure 4: Guides check-box selected

    Note: Selecting the Slide Master and making the Guides visible will influence all the Slide Layouts (and also slides) within that particular Slide Master.
  5. This makes the default Guides visible on the Slide Master, as shown in Figure 5. Note that these Guides are Red in color.

    Guides within Slide Master
    Figure 5: Guides within Slide Master
  6. Now select any individual Slide Layout (highlighted in blue within Figure 3, above) and 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).

    Add Vertical Guide option to be selected
    Figure 6: Add Vertical Guide option to be selected
  7. This adds an orange colored Vertical Guide right above the previous red colored Vertical Guide, as shown zoomed in Figure 7, below.

    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
  8. 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).

    Orange Guide being dragged
    Figure 8: Orange Guide being dragged
  9. 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.

    Guides within Normal view
    Figure 9: Guides within Normal view
  10. 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.

    Guides of all three colors visible on the slide
    Figure 10: Guides of all three colors visible on the slide

    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.

    It's for this reason that you should avoid recoloring your Guides (recoloring Guides has been explained in our New Guide Options in PowerPoint 2013 tutorial) -- Red, Orange, and Grey are standardized colors for Guides.

    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.
  11. 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 PowerPoint 2016 for Windows
Hierarchical Guide Options in PowerPoint 2016 for Mac

PowerPoint Keyboard Shortcuts and Sequences:
PowerPoint 2016, 2013, 2011, 2010, 2007 and 2003 for Windows
PowerPoint 2016 and 2011 for Mac
PowerPoint Online for Windows and Mac

Have your ever used keyboard shortcuts and sequences in PowerPoint? Or are you a complete keyboard aficionado? Do you want to learn about some new shortcuts? Or do you want to know if your favorite keyboard shortcuts are documented?

Go and get a copy of our PowerPoint Keyboard Shortcuts and Sequences ebook.

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