How can I easily align shapes in PowerPoint?


Properly aligned shapes and objects are key to making your presentation look professional and well laid out.  PPT Productivity’s founders all came out of Management Consulting.  Alignment and consistency across slides is particularly important in consulting, as the slide deck is typically the main deliverable your client receives at the end of a project. 

How to align objects in PowerPoint?

Doing alignment of shapes and objects in standard PowerPoint is quite time consuming. For example:

  • To align multiple objects in standard PowerPoint you need to select the objects you want to align by clicking the first object, then press and hold Ctrl while you click the other objects.  You then need to navigate to the align menu on the Shape Format ribbon, and then select your required alignment option from the menu.
  • To align a picture or image you need to select the Picture Format tab, open the drop down ‘Align’ menu and choose whether you want to align by Left, Center, Right, Top, Middle, Bottom or align to the slide.
  • If you want to align a shape, text box, or WordArt, after selecting your objects, you go to the Shape Format tab, open the ‘Align’ drop down menu and make your alignment selection (i.e. Left, Center, Right, Top, Middle, Bottom or align to the slide).
  • By default, objects will all be aligned by the most extreme/ outermost positioned shape.

Luckily PPT Productivity can make all of these activities faster and easier!

What features and shortcuts does PPT Productivity have to make alignment faster? 

PPT Productivity offers more alignment options than standard PowerPoint and easy single click access to features via the Format Shapes Toolbar. The toolbar docks to the side of your screen. You can also access the timesaving alignment features using customizable shortcut keys.

PPT Productivity add-in for PowerPoint makes it much faster to align objects on your slide compared to using standard PowerPoint. Simply select your shapes, pictures, text boxes, or other objects, then click the relevant alignment button from the Format Shapes Toolbar on the left-hand side of your screen.  The Format Shapes Toolbar includes feature buttons to align left, right, top, bottom, centered horizontally and centered vertically. 

Can I align to first selected object in PowerPoint?

PPT Productivity makes aligning shapes in PowerPoint fast and easy and provides more alignment options and shortcuts. PPT Productivity's time saving add-in includes the feature to align to the first selected object in PowerPoint. The PPT Productivity ribbon has an option in settings called Align to first selected shape rather than outermost shape. Checking this box allows you to always align to first selected shape in PowerPoint.

Note that for a consistent experience, this setting applies to all alignment buttons, both PPT Productivity and PowerPoint standard alignment buttons. If you need temporary alignment back to the other setting, holding the Ctrl key when clicking the alignment button will revert to align to outermost shape.

Can I align objects relative to each other in PowerPoint?

Yes - PPT Productivity has a feature to align to most extreme position and to align to first shape selected in PowerPoint! Change the alignment on selected objects using PPT Productivity. Standard PowerPoint does not have the option to align to the first shape selected.  For PPT Productivity users, pressing the CTRL key while selecting the preferred alignment option from the Shapes Toolbar overrides default alignment to the most extreme positioned and enables you to instead align to the first shape selected. If you want align to the first object selected in PowerPoint to be your default, you can update your preferences in the PPT Productivity settings to permanently set this.

Video demonstrates align to first shape selected in PowerPoint using PPT Productivity

Aligning objects to the No Fly Zone

PPT Productivity has a 'No Fly Zone’ feature.  You can set a border on your PowerPoint slide where text and objects should not be placed.  The feature was created with Marketing and Branding teams in mind, to prevent slide branding from being obscured by text. 

When only one object is selected, click the align function and your object will be aligned to the to the No Fly Zone. Clicking the Ctrl key when making your alignment selection will override this and switch back to the PowerPoint default of aligning the object to the edge of the slide.

Video demonstrates align shapes to no fly zone aka text boundaries in PowerPoint using PPT Productivity

How to align objects on multiple slides in PowerPoint?

Have you ever noticed how distracting it is when reading through a presentation online and text boxes or frameworks ‘jump’ position from one slide to the next? You can align objects on different slides with PPT Productivity add-in for PowerPoint!   PPT Productivity enables you to consistently align a shape or object across slides.  This is very useful to quickly correct textbox or table misalignments, or when using a framework across multiple slides.

The feature is accessed via two buttons on the Format Shapes Toolbar – a remember shape position button and a set shape position button.  To align a shape or object into a consistent position across multiple slides, select the relevant shape on the first slide (once it’s in the preferred position).  Click the ‘remember shape position’ button (or shortcut keys ALT + C), then navigate to the shape on the slide that you want to align to the first shape and click ‘set shape position’ (or keyboard shortcut ALT + V). Your shapes will now be aligned to the same point on multiple slides!

Video demonstrates remember shape position and set shape position to copy paste formatting in PowerPoint

Can I align objects to the center of the slide?

Yes you can position relative to center of slide using PPT Productivity. The Align center horizontal feature button has two modes:

  • Single Object Selected: If you click the button with a single shape selected, the Align center horizontal feature positions the shape relative to the center of the slide horizontally.
  • Multiple Objects Selected: If you have multiple shapes selected, the the Align center horizontal feature aligns those selected shapes through the centre point of either the first shape selected or the left most shape (depending on which setting you have selected in the Shape Alignment settings).

If you would like to align multiple shapes to the center of the slide, first turn on the 'align to first selected shape' in your PPT Productivity settings. Then select one shape and click the align to center horizontal feature. Once this has aligned to the center, re-select this shape plus the other shapes and click again.

Using this feature you can align shapes, objects, text boxes or images to the center of your slide.

How to align text boxes in PowerPoint?

PPT Productivity's alignment buttons can also be used to align text boxes in PowerPoint. Simply select the text boxes as you would any shape or object. You can also center a text box on your slide using the Align center horizontal feature.

Can I align images in PowerPoint?

Yes, you can use the PPT Productivity alignment features to align images. You can also center an image on your slide using the Align center horizontal feature.

Aligning with shortcut keys

You can also use shortcut keys for alignment.  With PPT Productivity you have access to shortcut keys for more features than standard PowerPoint.  PowerPoint assigns default shortcut keys to only 193 of its 800+ commands, but PPT Productivity allows you to assign shortcut keys to any PowerPoint command (including all PPT Productivity features).  You have the option to use the standard PowerPoint shortcut key combinations or you can create customized shortcut key combinations.  For example – change a standard shortcut key combination to one that you find easier to remember given your preferred language or easier to use based on your keyboard configuration. 

For example – the standard PowerPoint shortcut key combinations are as follows:

  • Align top: CTRL + ALT + SHIFT + T
  • Align bottom: CTRL + ALT + SHIFT + B
  • Align left: CTRL + ALT + SHIFT + L
  • Align right: CTRL + ALT + SHIFT + R
  • Align middle: CTRL + ALT + SHIFT + M

PPT Productivity also enables you to use shortcut key combinations for the following alignment tasks (which PowerPoint does not offer shortcut key combinations for).  PPT Productivity provides pre-set shortcut key options (shown below), but you can also customize them to any available key combination:

  • Swap positions: Ctrl+Alt+Shift+S
  • Swap positions horizontally: Ctrl+Alt+Shift+~
  • Swap positions vertically: Ctrl+Alt+Shift+!
  • Remember shape position: ALT + C
  • Set shape position: ALT + V

You can read more about the Customizable Shortcut Key features and the full set of additional shortcut keys offered in PPT Productivity on our Shortcut Keys feature.

For more information about productivity tools to make aligning objects in PowerPoint faster and easier, see arrange and align shapes page.

Want to create polished presentations faster? With PPT Productivity, boost your team's productivity with faster formatting, easier editing, collaboration tools and more! If you're not yet using PPT Productivity, download our free 30 day trial today. We offer free one-on-one training and flexible licensing to suit individuals, teams or enterprise.
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