Dec 17 2008

How to Create a Sexy Curved Arrow in PowerPoint

When you’re trying to highlight a key part of a chart or table, you may want to use an arrow. It’s fairly easy to create an arrow in PowerPoint 2007, but it is not as obvious how to create an eye-appealing curved arrow. I find that curved arrows are frequently better than straight arrows because they can bend around other important data points in a chart or table rather blocking them. And let’s face it — straight arrows are very boring.

How can you spot a sexy curved arrow?

You want to minimize the points in the arrow so it is more smooth

You want to minimize the points in the arrow so it is more smooth

Inexperienced PowerPoint users will use straight arrows or ugly curved arrows that look hand drawn. A good curved arrow has a smooth curve – no kinks or abrupt changes in its arc. The more points in an arrow, the more bends you’ll have. The key is to minimize the points or bends (Right click on an arrow and select “Edit Points” to see how many points are in the arrow). The following steps will show you how to add more professional-looking curved arrows to your next set of PowerPoint slides.

Step 1 – Draw the arrow

Select the Freeform shape option -- not the Arrow shape option.

Select the Freeform shape option -- not the Arrow shape option.

In PowerPoint 2007, if you use the default “arrow” drawing option, you can only create a straight arrow. For whatever reason, you can’t edit the arrow shape so we have to use another shape which is editable — the Freeform drawing shape. Because you’re going to edit the shape once it is drawn, you don’t have to be exact on your initial drawing. Hit the “Esc” key to stop drawing the arrow once you have two points or a straight line segment.

Step 2 – Edit the points of the arrow

Now that you have a line segment drawn, right click on the line and select “Edit Points” to start adding a curve to the line. Using the blue handle that appears when you click on one of the end points, you’ll be able to change the arc of the line. You may need to play with both ends of the line to achieve the curve you’re looking for. Tip: Make sure your line doesn’t become twisted. Watch the angles of the blue handles — think “smooth” and “gradual”.

Use the blue handles in editing mode to add a curve to your line segment.

Use the blue handles in editing mode to add a curve to your line segment.

Step 3 – Add the arrow end type and width

The last step is to add the arrow’s begin/end type and adjust the width of the arrow. Right click on the curved line segment and select “Format Shape” at the bottom of the pop-up menu. In the Format Shape window, go to the Line Style tab where you will be able to add an end type and change the width. Voila! You have a sexy curved arrow that will be the envy of your co-workers.

The Line Style tab will enable you to add the final touches to your curved arrow.

The Line Style tab will enable you to add the final touches to your curved arrow.

Since I created this post, I’ve added another article on another approach to creating a “sexy curved arrow”. Check out my follow-up Part II article.

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26 Responses to “How to Create a Sexy Curved Arrow in PowerPoint”

  1. PowerPoint Training says:

    Funky! I like it. I often use the connector arrows to create this effect.

  2. pptninja says:

    I find the connector arrows a little less flexible, and I can’t always create the effect I’m looking for. But they are an option in some cases.

  3. ls.manyb says:


  4. Eli Salazar says:

    Nice..!! This is really kool, because sometimes you just want to know how to connect your things without words. So this really helps and it makes a lot of sense.

  5. Cómo crear una flecha curvada atractiva en PowerPoint | ]V[orlock ۞ Liberitas says:

    […] Texto e imágenes originales extraídos de PowerPoint Ninja. […]

  6. DrGreg says:

    Great tip! Weird that Microsoft did not include a simple curvable arrow.

  7. Juzzy says:

    Just what I needed.
    Keep up the good resource i’ll be checking back often now i’ve found it!

  8. jacob says:

    Thanks so much! Very cool!

  9. Raj LP says:

    Thanks a ton. This is very cool and easy.

  10. Noel says:

    Great! Thanks, thanks, thanks! – Problem solved.

  11. Ryan says:

    Until I saw this tip (and the sequel to this article), I was hand-drawing arrows with a marker, scanning them into the PC, then recoloring and making the background transparent. Effective, but this saves MANY steps to get the same basic effect! Thanks!

  12. geekmee says:

    Tremendous!…elegant and concise.

  13. deepak says:

    great tip!

  14. TOm says:


    But the curves made this way don’t act as connectors, at least for me. Is there a way to make connectors that have a curve? I re-arrange the diagrams a lot, and have connectors stay attached is important.

  15. sexy says:

    this helped me

  16. Sahil Kotak says:

    Wow…great. I don’t have much experience in creating PPT presentations but now I do know how to create amazing arrows which is just superb.

    Thanks a lot! :)

  17. Ken says:

    Genius!! Now my presentation looks AWESOME!

  18. Gazal says:

    thnxxx alot!!1 :)

  19. Sam Ramji says:

    There’s a way to do this for the filled arrows as well – I just ran across the following guide:

  20. Laurel McLean says:

    It is much easier to create a curved arrow by adding an arrow end to the curved line from the basic shapes.

    • pptninja says:

      It might be a little easier, but I don’t like the curves as much because it adds extra edit points. Even if you try to do a simple curve with the Curve tool, you get a three-point line instead of a two-point line using my method. I like the two points because I have the flexibility to create a smooth flowing curve or arc. Even just adding one extra point to the mix adds to the complexity of getting the curve just right, especially if you’re picky like me.

  21. anton says:

    any way possible for Mac users? I have been searching for the “Edit Points” option but so far I can’t find it. Any help will be very appreciated.

    Thanks in advance

  22. Kashish says:

    Too good! Exactly what I was looking for. My struggle for curved arrow ended here!

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