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Types of Shapes in PowerPoint 2016 for Windows

Learn about different types of shapes in PowerPoint 2016 for Windows. In many ways, shapes are the building blocks of PowerPoint slide design.

What does the word “shape” mean to you? Do you imagine a square, a circle, a heart, or even a smiley face? Yes, all those are shapes—as are the hundreds of other recognizable outlines or figures that we call shapes in our daily conversations. Shapes play a significant role within any slides you create for your PowerPoint presentation. In so many ways, shapes are like the building blocks of almost anything you do on your PowerPoint slides. PowerPoint 2016 for Windows provides hundreds of shapes efficiently categorized into 9 types. You can do so much with these shapes—for example, you can combine shapes to create your own unique shapes, format shapes with fills, lines, and effects, and even group or layer them to create more amazing graphics. You can even create flowcharts with these shapes. This tutorial explores the various types of shapes available within PowerPoint.

To look at these different types of shapes, choose the Insert tab (or even the Home tab) of the Ribbon. Then, click the Shapes button to bring up a drop-down gallery, as shown in Figure 1.

  • Figure 1: Shapes drop-down gallery

    PowerPoint 2016 sorts these different shape types into nine categories, as explained below:


    Straight and curved lines, with or without arrowheads (see Figure 2). Also, you'll find options to create freeform paths and scribbles. In addition, lines also work as connectors, which link individual shapes and other slide objects via straight, curved, or elbow branches.

  • Figure 2: Lines
  • Tip: The first 9 line types also work as "connectors". These can be especially useful if you need to create flowcharts. For more info, explore our Using Flowchart and Connector Shapes Together tutorial.


    Other than the ubiquitous simple rectangle, PowerPoint provides several types of other rectangles including those with rounded and snipped corners (see Figure 3).

  • Figure 3: Rectangles
  • Basic Shapes

    Common shapes such as ovals, triangles, cubes, hearts, etc. (see Figure 4).

  • Figure 4: Basic Shapes
  • Block Arrows

    A comprehensive assortment of arrow shapes (see Figure 5).

  • Figure 5: Block Arrows
  • Equation Shapes

    Common mathematical and equation symbols (see Figure 6).

  • Figure 6: Equation Shapes

  • Flowchart

    Several standard flowchart symbols such as Process, Decision, Data, etc. can be found within this category (see Figure 7).

  • Figure 7: Flowchart
  • Tip: Learn more about various flowchart shapes in our Flowchart Symbols: What They Represent? tutorial.

    Stars and Banners

    Stars with 4 until 32 points, explosions, scrolls, and banners (see Figure 8).

  • Figure 8: Stars and Banners
  • Callouts

    Provides speech and thought bubbles, and line callouts too (see Figure 9).

  • Figure 9: Callouts
  • Action Buttons

    A special category of buttons that enables you to add push style buttons that allow you to add navigation between slides and other interactivity (see Figure 10).

  • Figure 10: Action Buttons
  • Other than the categories mentioned above, the Shapes drop-down gallery also includes a Recently Used Shapes category right on top that lists any shapes that you use often (see Figure 11). All these shapes are also visible in their normal location in the Shapes drop-down gallery.

  • Figure 11: Recently Used Shapes

    See Also:

    Types of Shapes in PowerPoint 2016 for Mac
    Types of Shapes in PowerPoint 2013 for Windows
    Types of Shapes in PowerPoint 2011 for Mac
    Types of Shapes in PowerPoint 2010 and 2007 for Windows
    Types of Shapes in PowerPoint Online