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Shape Subtract Command in PowerPoint 2010 for Windows

Learn how you can subtract shapes in PowerPoint 2010 using the Shape Subtract command.

Author: Geetesh Bajaj

Product/Version: Microsoft PowerPoint 2010
OS: Windows 8, 7, Vista, and XP

Date Created: January 10th 2011
Last Updated: January 10th 2011

PowerPoint 2010 lets you change how your shapes merge with its four Combine Shape commands: Combine, Intersect, Subtract, and Union -- you can end up with some seriously impressive results. In this tutorial, I'll show you how you can subtract one shape from another. For example, I placed two shapes over each other as shown towards the left of Figure 1. With these shapes selected, I could use the Shape Subtract command that I explain later in this tutorial to create a subtracted shape as shown towards the right in Figure 1.

 Sample showing use of the Shape Subtract command
Figure 1: Sample showing use of the Shape Subtract command

Once you finish reading this tutorial, do view the sample presentations embedded on the bottom of this page to see more samples of shapes that use the Shape Subtract command.

The Shape Subtract command is one of the four new Shape commands that are not visible by default in PowerPoint 2010 -- you need to enable them as explained in Add Combine Shapes Commands to the Quick Access Toolbar (QAT) in PowerPoint 2010. Thereafter follow these steps:

  1. Select two or more shapes as shown in Figure 2. With these shapes selected, click the Shape Subtract command on the QAT.

    Shape Subtract command in PowerPoint
    Figure 2: Shape Subtract command

  2. This results in a subtracted shape as shown in Figure 3.

    Subtracted shape
    Figure 3: Subtracted shape

Do remember these guidelines for any tasks that involve the usage of this command. The Shape Subtract command:

  • Retains the first selected shape
  • Subtracts overlapping areas of other shapes from first selected shape
  • If there is no overlap, the first selected shape is retained. Everything else is removed
  • Retains formatting of first selected shape

You will see these guidelines in use within the embedded presentations below (scroll down this page).

Activity: Do experiment with various shapes that are formatted with fills of different colors. Select one of the shapes, and then individually select other shapes and click the Shape Subtract command -- you will notice that the combined shape takes the formatting of the shape selected first.

The sample presentations below show how we used different shapes placed next to and above each other, and then subtracted.

Click above to view on SlideShare

Click above to view on YouTube

See Also:

Shape Subtract in PowerPoint 2016 for Windows
Shape Subtract Command in PowerPoint 2016 for Mac
Shape Subtract in PowerPoint 2013 for Windows
Shape Subtract Command in PowerPoint 2011 for Mac


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