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Shape Subtract Command in PowerPoint 2011 for Mac

Learn how you can create new shapes in PowerPoint 2011 using the Subtract command.

Author: Geetesh Bajaj

Product/Version: Microsoft PowerPoint 2011
OS: Mac OS X

Date Created: January 5th 2012
Last Updated: January 5th 2012

PowerPoint 2011 lets you merge the shapes with its four Combine Shape commands: Combine, Union, Intersect, and Subtract -- you can end up with some seriously impressive results. In this tutorial, we'll show how you can subtract one shape from another. For example, we placed several shapes over one larger heart shape as shown towards the left of Figure 1. With these shapes selected, we could use the Subtract command that is explained later in this tutorial to create a cutout shape, as shown towards the right in Figure 1.

 Sample showing the use of the Shape Subtract command
Figure 1: Sample showing the 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 created using the Subtract command.

  1. Open your presentation and navigate to the slide which contains shapes to be subtracted. In Figure 2 you can see that two Octagons have been placed overlapping each other.

    One octagon placed atop another octagon
    Figure 2: One octagon placed atop another octagon

  2. Select two or more shapes to which you want to apply the Subtract command (we selected the two octagons that you saw in Figure 2), and right-click them carefully. From the contextual menu that appears, select the Grouping option. This opens another sub-menu in which you should select the Subtract command as shown in Figure 3.

    Subtract command selected within the Grouping sub-menu
    Figure 3: Subtract command selected within the Grouping sub-menu

    Tip: To use the Subtract command, you must select two or more shapes.

  3. This results in a subtracted shape as shown in Figure 4 (compare with Figure 2).
    Selected Octagons subtracted into a single shape
    Figure 4: Selected Octagons subtracted into a single shape

Here’s how the Subtract command behaves in various scenarios:

  • 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 apply the Subtract command -- you will notice that the resultant 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 in PowerPoint 2013 for Windows
Shape Subtract Command in PowerPoint 2010 for Windows


Office 2008 for Mac All-in-One For Dummies Office 2011 for Mac All-in-One For Dummies

If you liked this tutorial, do look at this book, authored by Geetesh Bajaj and James Gordon.

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