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Drawing Arcs in PowerPoint

Explore how you can draw an Arc shape in PowerPoint. The Arc is different than the similar Pie shape.


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Product/Version: PowerPoint

OS: Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X






There are so many shapes in PowerPoint, from the basic Rectangle and Oval to the fancy Pie and Smiley Face! You can use these shapes as they are, or you can use the Merge Shape commands to create your own unique shapes. However, even if you do not create new shapes, there are some existing shapes that can be used in myriad ways. One of these is the Arc shape, that we will explore today. The Arc shape is quite easy to use, and in fact, you'll find so much similarity between how the Arc and the Pie shapes appear and work—and some difference too. Let's first explore how you draw an Arc shape. Thereafter we will explore differences between the Arc and the Pie shapes.

Follow these steps to draw the Arc shape in PowerPoint:

  1. Create a new presentation in PowerPoint. You can change the slide layout to Blank by selecting the Home tab | Layout | Blank option.
  2. Access the Shapes Gallery, as shown in Figure 1, below. You'll find the Arc shape (highlighted in red within Figure 1) within the Basic Shapes category.
  3. Arc shape selected
    Figure 1: Arc shape selected
  4. Now, click anywhere on the slide to add the Arc shape in a predefined size (typically 1 inch x 1 inch). Or, click and do not let go off the primary button on your mouse (or other input device). Continue dragging until you create a large enough Arc shape on your slide, as shown in Figure 2. Let go off the mouse button now.
  5. Two handles at both the ends
    Figure 2: Two handles at both the ends
  6. Notice two handles (highlighted in red within Figure 2, above) placed on both ends of the Arc shape. You can drag any of these handles to increase the curvature of the inserted Arc shape. Figure 3 shows the handle being dragged downwards.
  7. Handle being dragged
    Figure 3: Handle being dragged
  8. Note: Learn more about these handles in our Manipulating Shapes by Dragging Yellow Squares/Diamonds in PowerPoint tutorial.
  9. Drag further upwards to create a Pie shape without a fill, as shown in Figure 4.
  10. Pie shape created
    Figure 4: Pie shape created
  11. Apply a solid fill to the Arc shape to get something as shown in Figure 5. Although this resultant shape looks like a Pie, it really isn't since the outline of the shape doesn't surround it entirely. We will explore this difference later on this page.
  12. Pie shape with solid fill
    Figure 5: Pie shape with solid fill
  13. You can even drag the handle to the maximum extent to create a full circle, as shown in Figure 6.
  14. Circle created using Arc shape
    Figure 6: Circle created using Arc shape
  15. Save your presentation often.

Difference Between a Pie and an Arc

In Figure 7, below you will find the Pie shape on the left while the Arc can be found right-wards. Notice that they look the same except for the partial outline within the Arc shape (pointed by arrows in Figure 7). In comparison, the Pie shape sports a full outline.

Pie and Arc shapes look similar but can be different
Figure 7: Pie and Arc shapes look similar but can be different

Tip: There are other shapes with which you can create an Arc easily. You can use the Freeform drawing tool to create your own individual Arc. You can also use the Block Arc shape within the Shapes gallery that you can see in Figure 8, below.

The Block Arc shape
Figure 8: The Block Arc shape

Once drawn, you will see two handles on the Block Arc shape, as shown highlighted in red within Figure 9, below.

Two handles can be found within the Block Arc shape
Figure 9: Two handles can be found within the Block Arc shape

Drag the left handle to make your Arc smaller or larger, as shown within the top shape within Figure 10, below. The right handle, on the other hand allows you to make your Arc shape thinner or thicker, as shown in the bottom shape within Figure 10, below.

The Block Arc shape can also create Arcs
Figure 10: The Block Arc shape can also create Arcs

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