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Finding Length of a Diagonal Line in PowerPoint 2011 for Mac

Learn how to find out the length of a slanted (diagonal) line in PowerPoint 2011 for Mac. We get some help from an ancient philosopher.


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Product/Version: PowerPoint 2011 for Mac

OS: Mac OS X





Did you ever draw a line in PowerPoint that was slanted or sloped, and then you wanted to know the length of your line? Believe it or not, there is no option to do this within the program! Look at Figure 1, where you can see a straight line. Yes, the line itself is straight but it is not horizontally or vertically straight within the slide! In other words, this is a diagonal line.

A diagonal line on a PowerPoint slide
Figure 1: A diagonal line on a PowerPoint slide

We now right-click (or Ctrl + click) the line to bring up the contextual menu you see in Figure 2. Within this menu, select the Format Shape option.

Format Shape option within the right-click contextual menu
Figure 2: Format Shape option within the right-click contextual menu

This brings up the Format Shape dialog box as shown in Figure 3. Now, click the Size option within the sidebar and notice that you see both a Height and a Width value (highlighted in red within Figure 3) but no Length value!

Format Shape dialog box includes Height and Width values
Figure 3: Format Shape dialog box includes Height and Width values

You might be curious about how a line can have a Height and a Width rather than just a Length?

Tip: Want to change a diagonal line to a straight horizontal or vertical line? Look at our Change a Diagonal Line to Horizontal / Vertical Line in PowerPoint 2011 for Mac tutorial.

The actual answer is that these values are not for the line but an imaginary rectangle that spans the line. In Figure 4, you can see that we have placed this imaginary rectangle behind the line. The Height and Width you saw earlier within the Format Shape dialog box in Figure 3 pertain to this rectangle!

Imaginary rectangle that contains the diagonal line
Figure 4: Imaginary rectangle that contains the diagonal line

Look closely at Figure 4, and you will notice that the diagonal line in question not only created an imaginary rectangle, but it also created two imaginary right-angled triangles that are exactly the same. When you draw a diagonal line connecting two opposite corners of a rectangle, you end up creating the imaginary triangles shown in Figure 5, below.

Two imaginary triangles are created with a diagonal line
Figure 5: Two imaginary triangles are created with a diagonal line

The Width and Height values that we saw within the Format Shape dialog box (see Figure 3 shown previously on this page) thus also are the lengths of two sides of any one of the triangles. Since we already know the length of two sides of our triangle, we can easily use a little geometry to find the length of the line we started with!

How many of you remember the Pythagoras' theorem from your school days? If we use the logic behind the Pythagoras' theorem, you will know that A²+B²=C² (A, B, and C are the three sides of our triangle, as shown in Figure 6, below).

A, B, and C are the three sides of our imaginary triangle
Figure 6: A, B, and C are the three sides of our imaginary triangle

The values that we know so far are:

A: 2.9
B: 5.56

Thus, 2.29²+5.56²=C²

We actually created an Excel sheet for you that already has these formulas inserted. You just need to type in your values for A and B, and will instantly see the value for C!

Thus the length of our original line is 6.01.

You can similarly use the embedded Excel sheet on this page to find the length of any diagonal line within PowerPoint.


See Also:

Finding Length of a Diagonal Line in PowerPoint 2013 for Windows

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