Any aspiring PowerPoint ninja needs to be familiar with a subset of important features within PowerPoint. Through a series of PowerPoint Ninja “toolbox” articles, I will cover some of these key features. Whether you’re using PowerPoint 2003 or 2007, the Drawing Guide feature is very useful as you design new slides.
One of the keys to creating professional-looking PowerPoint slides is to ensure text and objects are properly organized and aligned on your slides. You can enable the Gridline feature so that the background of your slide canvas displays a gridline pattern. I find the gridlines to be a little distracting as I design slides, and I prefer the drawing guides, which can be repositioned anywhere on the slide canvas.
Unfortunately, this feature is a little hard to find in PowerPoint 2007, but those who are curious and persevere will be rewarded. To enable drawing guides, the simplest approach is to click on an object and then go to the Drawing / Picture Format tab on the Ribbon. Under the Arrange section of the Ribbon, you will find an Align button. When you bring up the Align menu, at the very bottom of it you will find “Grid Settings”, which opens up a pop-up window. When you check the drawing guides checkbox and click okay, a horizontal and vertical guide will appear on your slide canvas.
The drawing guide feature is the bo staff of PowerPoint. Drawing guides can serve as useful rulers to help you align your text and clip art on any slide. In many cases, you can align objects and text using the Align feature (see left dropdown menu in the image above). However, the Align feature doesn’t always work well for unusual shapes or groups of mixed objects. In these cases, the drawing guides can be used to visually align objects.
If you’re trying to line up objects consistently across multiple slides, you can place drawing guides in specific locations to help with positioning objects on each slide. You can create multiple guides by holding the Ctrl button and dragging a drawing guide (up to 8 vertical and horizontal guides). Using this approach, drawing guides can establish a consistent layout for your slides when it is required. If you add one too many guides, simply drag it off the screen to remove it.
If you are re-sizing a drawing or cropping a picture, you can position the guide exactly where you want to expand or crop to, and then as you edit the item, PowerPoint will snap your editing to the guide. This design technique can be a time saver as you’re working on slides with multiple images.