Learning more about what shapes are, and how they work can help you create better presentations because shapes are the building blocks of almost anything you do on your PowerPoint slides. So what is a shape? Any form, such as a rectangle, a circle, a line, or even a callout is a shape. PowerPoint 2011 for Mac provides hundreds of readymade shapes, and it is these readymade shapes that we will discuss in this tutorial. PowerPoint's shapes are conveniently categorized into nine types. All these shapes can be used in various ways. You can also format shapes with fills, lines, and effects, and even group or layer them to create more complex shapes.
To look at these different type of shapes, select the Home tab of the Ribbon, locate the Insert group, and within this group, click the Shape button to bring up the Shape gallery, as shown in Figure 1.
Figure 1: Shape gallery in PowerPoint 2011
You'll see that PowerPoint 2011 has categorized the different shape types into nine categories. Click on any of these categories to access a sub-menu including shapes of that category. These nine categories are explained below:
1. Lines and Connectors
These are 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 and Connectors
Other than the ubiquitous squares and rectangles, PowerPoint provides several types of other rectangles including those with rounded and snipped corners (see Figure 3).
Figure 3: Rectangles
3. Basic Shapes
These include common shapes such as ovals, triangles, cubes, hearts, etc. (see Figure 4).
Figure 4: Basic Shapes
4. Block Arrows
This category provides a comprehensive assortment of arrow shapes (see Figure 5).
Figure 5: Block Arrows
5. Equation Shapes
This category contains common mathematical and equation symbols (see Figure 6).
Figure 6: Equation Shapes
Several standard flowchart symbols such as Process, Decision, Data, etc can be found within this category (see Figure 7).
Figure 7: Flowchart
7. Stars and Banners
This category includes a variation of stars with 4 until 32 points, explosions, scrolls, and banners (see Figure 8).
Figure 8: Stars and Banners
Provides speech and thought bubbles, and line callouts too (see Figure 9).
Figure 9: Callouts
9. 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
If you want all types of the shapes within one gallery, select the Shape Browser option, which is the last option in the Shape gallery. This opens the Shapes tab of the Media Browser.
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