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Lesson 2: Placing and formatting graphics
 Advanced Microsoft® PowerPoint 2003
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 Vector and raster graphics   Page 1 of 10

Welcome back! In this lesson, you'll learn some advanced techniques for working with graphics.

Before you get started with the practical skills, here's a bit of theory that you'll need to know later in the lesson. There are two types of graphics in the computer world: vector and raster. PowerPoint handles them very differently, and each has its specific benefits and drawbacks.

A vector graphic is one that's built mathematically, by defining a shape and then filling it in. Clip art, charts, WordArt, diagrams, and AutoShapes are all examples of vector graphics. Figure 2-1 shows a vector graphic.

Figure 2-1: A vector graphic.
Figure 2-1: A vector graphic.

A raster graphic, also called a bitmap graphic, is comprised of a grid of colored dots that makes up a picture. Digital photographs are raster graphics. If you zoom in on a digital photograph, you can see the individual colored dots, as shown in Figure 2-2.

Figure 2-2: A raster graphic, at standard size and zoomed in.
Figure 2-2: A raster graphic, at standard size and zoomed in.

Both types of graphics are equally valuable, but they have different purposes. A vector graphic does not take up much disk space, so you can use a lot of them without significantly increasing the size of your presentation file. In addition, you can freely resize vector graphics without any loss of image quality. However, vector graphics have an artificial, cartoonish quality to them. You would never mistake a vector graphic for a real-life object.

Raster graphics, on the other hand, are extremely realistic. When you need real photographic quality, only a raster graphic will do. However, raster graphics are large files, and they tend to bloat the size of your presentation file. Further, resizing a raster graphic often distorts it, especially if you make it larger than its original size.

Images from a digital camera or scanner are raster graphics. Almost all the other graphic types you work with in PowerPoint are vector graphics, such as clip art, WordArt, charts, diagrams, AutoShapes, and so on.

 Available graphic types   Page 2 of 10

Here's a quick review of the types of graphics that PowerPoint accepts, and how to insert each type. The list indicates whether the graphic listed is a vector or raster graphic and provides a brief description of each:

If you're not familiar with any of these types of graphics, practice using them in PowerPoint before continuing with the lesson.

  • Clip art: This is vector-drawn artwork that's created for you. It's compact and scaleable to any size. Select Insert > Picture > Clip Art, and then select from the Clip Organizer task pane.
  • AutoShapes: This is vector-drawn artwork that you create yourself using the Drawing toolbar. Use ovals, rectangles, lines, arrows, or objects from the AutoShapes menu.
  • Photographs: This is raster artwork, usually from a scanner or digital camera. Select Insert > Picture > From File for an existing file, or select Insert > Picture > From Scanner or Camera to acquire an image from a scanner attached to your PC, or to transfer an image that is still on a digital camera.
  • Diagrams: These are vector-based charts that you can customize with your own text and formatting to make diagrams such as organization charts, pyramids, and Venn diagrams. Insert one by selecting Insert > Diagram. (Or, if you want an organization chart diagram, select Insert > Picture > Organization Chart.)
  • WordArt: This is stylized text (converted to vector graphic format) that you can bend, shape, and format to produce interesting graphical logos and decorations. Select Insert > Picture > WordArt.
  • Charts (graphs): These are bar, pie, line, area, or other charts in vector format, based on numeric data graphed in a two-dimensional or three-dimensional plane. Select Insert > Chart.
  • Other objects: Any graphic that can be copied to the Windows Clipboard can be pasted into PowerPoint. You can also insert almost any type of object with the Insert > Object command.
 Reducing photographic resolution   Page 3 of 10

Let's assume that you've weighed all your graphic options and have decided that your presentation needs some photographs in it. Remember that photographs are raster graphics, and as such, are large and bulky. So what can you do to minimize that drawback?

An image's resolution is the number of pixels in height and width. The higher the resolution of the photo, the more space it takes on the hard disk. The photos you take with your digital camera, although great for printing, are probably much too high-resolution for optimal use in PowerPoint. Using a high-resolution image in PowerPoint unnecessarily bloats the presentation file size, so it takes longer to save and load. In addition, if you plan to distribute the presentation file on the Internet, it will take much longer to upload and download.

One way to make your photos more suitable for use in PowerPoint is to decrease their resolution in an image-editing program before placing them in PowerPoint. For onscreen use, a resolution of 96 dpi (dots per inch) is optimal. Some people use Paint Shop Pro to reduce image file size; Photoshop is also good (but expensive), and there are many other image-editing programs on the market that can do this as well. Save the decreased-resolution version of the file under a different name, so you still have your high-resolution version to use later.

Perhaps an easier way is to decrease the resolution of the photos after you've inserted them in PowerPoint. This method changes the resolution for only the copies inserted; it does nothing to the original files. This method is extremely easy and automatically selects the appropriate resolution for you.

For PowerPoint, JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group) is the optimal file format for raster graphics because its format is so compact. Other formats, such as TIFF (Tagged Image File Format), might result in higher-quality images for printouts, but for onscreen display they're unnecessarily bulky. If your graphic is in some other format, consider converting it to JPEG using an image-editing program before importing it into PowerPoint.

Follow these steps to try out PowerPoint's resolution-reduction feature:

  1. Create a presentation that contains at least one photo.
  2. Select the photo. If the Picture toolbar does not automatically appear, display it by selecting View > Toolbars > Picture.
  3. On the Picture toolbar, click the Compress Pictures button, shown in Figure 2-3. The Compress Pictures dialog box appears.

Figure 2-3: The Compress Pictures button on the Pictures toolbar.
Figure 2-3: The Compress Pictures button on the Pictures toolbar.

  1. Select the All pictures in document and Web/Screen options.
  2. Leave both checkboxes checked at the bottom of the dialog box. At this point, the options should resemble Figure 2-4.

Figure 2-4: The Compress Pictures dialog box.
Figure 2-4: The Compress Pictures dialog box.

  1. Click OK. The pictures are all rescaled to 96 dots per inch. Their sizes, as they appear on the slides themselves, do not change; you won't notice any difference in the presentation itself except that the presentation's file size will be smaller.
 Sizing and cropping graphics   Page 4 of 10

In this section, you learn some ways to manipulate graphic objects, including sizing graphics and cropping photos.

Sizing graphics

As you probably know, you can resize all objects in PowerPoint by dragging the selection handles. You hold down the Shift key while dragging to maintain the aspect ratio of the object (that is, the proportion of height to width).

Another way to size an object is by entering precise values for it. This is especially useful when you need several objects to be exactly the same size. To set an exact value, open the Properties dialog box for the object (by double-clicking it) and enter size measurements on the Size tab, shown in Figure 2-5.

Figure 2-5: The Object Properties dialog box Size tab.
Figure 2-5: The Object Properties dialog box Size tab.

Notice in Figure 2-5 that you can set a size by number of pixels or by percentage of the original. You can also click Reset to return the graphic to its original size.

Cropping photos

There are two ways to crop a photo. The first method is to open it in an image-editing program, such as Paint Shop Pro or Photoshop, crop it, save the cropped version, and then insert it in PowerPoint.

The second method is to insert the picture in PowerPoint, and then crop it using the Crop tool on the Picture toolbar. To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Insert the picture and select it. Display the Picture toolbar if needed.
  2. Click the Crop tool, shown in Figure 2-6. The mouse pointer changes to a cropping symbol.

Figure 2-6: Crop a photo.
Figure 2-6: Crop a photo.

  1. Drag the selection handle on one side of the picture toward the center until the unwanted portion is excluded.
  2. Repeat the cropping process for each side, until the image looks the way you want it.
  3. Press Esc or click the Crop tool again to exit from cropping mode.

Cropping a photo outside of PowerPoint has the advantage of eliminating the unwanted areas beforehand so the file size is smaller coming into PowerPoint. However, if you use the Compress Pictures feature in PowerPoint after cropping the photo in PowerPoint, it eliminates the cropped areas so the size savings come out the same as if you cropped it beforehand.

 Applying photo effects   Page 5 of 10

If you want precise control over photo editing, you should use a third-party program such as Paint Shop Pro or Photoshop before importing the image into PowerPoint. However, PowerPoint does have several tools that can make simple changes to imported photos by adjusting the brightness, contrast, and color (image mode).

Brightness and contrast are just what you would expect them to be, like on a television or a display monitor. Use the buttons on the Picture toolbar, as shown in Figure 2-7.

Figure 2-7: Brightness and Contrast controls.
Figure 2-7: Brightness and Contrast controls.

The Color button opens a drop-down list with which you can assign one of four modes to any picture, as shown in Figure 2-8.

Figure 2-8: Color choices.
Figure 2-8: Color choices.

  • Automatic: Whatever it normally is (outside of PowerPoint). If it's a color image, it's in color.
  • Grayscale: Converts color pictures to grayscale; leaves grayscale images as-is.
  • Black & White: Converts color and grayscale pictures to black and white (no shades of gray).
  • Washout: Converts pictures to a faint version of themselves, like a watermark, so you can use them in the background behind text or other graphics without detracting.

Figure 2-9 shows a sample image in each of the four modes.

Figure 2-9: A sample image in Automatic, Grayscale, Black and White, and Washout modes.
Figure 2-9: A sample image in Automatic, Grayscale, Black and White, and Washout modes.

Not only can you apply these photo effects to raster images such as photos (of course), but you can also apply them to clip art. You cannot, however, apply them to charts, diagrams, AutoShapes, or WordArt.

 Applying special fill effects   Page 6 of 10

Perhaps you already know how to fill an object with a color, but there are many other options besides solid-color fills available via the Fill Effects command. You can access this menu several different ways. You can access it on the Drawing toolbar. Click the Fill Color button and select Fill Effects from the drop-down menu. You can also select Fill Effects from any color choice menu that includes that command (for example, on the Fill Color button's menu, or from the Background dialog box), and then make your selection. The following sections explore the fill effects in more detail. This section covers the simpler of the four options first: textures and patterns. They work for all drawn objects (AutoShape lines and shapes), plus most clip art, and you can also use them for slide backgrounds.


Textures simulate various surface types, such as wood, cloth, marble, or paper. They are graphic images, but they're created with seamless edges so that when you tile them, you can't tell where one image ends and the next one starts. Textures can work well as slide backgrounds or as filler for AutoShapes on which other objects are stacked. Figure 2-10 shows some examples of various texture fills.

Figure 2-10: Texture examples.
Figure 2-10: Texture examples.

To select a texture, click the Texture tab in the Fill Effects dialog box, shown in Figure 2-11.

Figure 2-11: The Texture tab.
Figure 2-11: The Texture tab.


Patterns overlay one color (the foreground color) over another (the background color) in stripes, polka dots, dashes, or other designs. Figure 2-12 shows some pattern examples.

Figure 2-12 is painful to look at, isn't it? This is what happens when you have too many patterns on a slide. Remember this, and avoid it.

Figure 2-12: Pattern examples.
Figure 2-12: Pattern examples.

To select a pattern, open the Fill Effects dialog box, and then click the Pattern tab, shown in Figure 2-13. On it, select the colors you want for the foreground and background and select the pattern you want.

Figure 2-13: The Pattern tab.
Figure 2-13: The Pattern tab.

 More special effects   Page 7 of 10

There are two other options for fill effects.


A gradient is the gradual fading of one color into another, such as in a sunset or a rainbow. Gradients work well as background fills, as fills for AutoShapes, and as fills for WordArt. Figure 2-14 shows some gradient examples.

Figure 2-14: Gradient examples.
Figure 2-14: Gradient examples.

There are three gradient types you can set up:

  • One color: Blends the color of your choice with either black or white.
  • Two color: Blends one color of your choice with another color of your choice.
  • Presets: Blends two or more prechosen colors. Some of these have more than two colors in them, such as the rainbow background shown in Figure 2-14.

To select a gradient, open the Fill Effects dialog box and click the Gradient tab, as shown in Figure 2-15. Then select One color, Two colors, or Preset, and select the color(s) or preset you want. After selecting the color(s), select the shading style and variant you want.

Figure 2-15: The Gradient tab.
Figure 2-15: The Gradient tab.

Picture Fills

Picture fills actually use bitmap images as the fill. Occasionally, you might use a picture fill for a background, but a more common use of a picture fill is to use an AutoShape as a picture frame, as shown in Figure 2-16.

Figure 2-16: Picture fill examples.
Figure 2-16: Picture fill examples.

To select a picture fill, open the Fill Effects dialog box, select the Picture tab, click Select Picture, and then navigate to the folder containing the picture. Select the picture, and then click Insert to move a preview of it onto the Picture tab, as in Figure 2-17. From there, if desired, check the Lock picture aspect ratio checkbox (this can prevent the picture from being distorted) and click OK.

Figure 2-17: The Picture tab.
Figure 2-17: The Picture tab.

 Aligning and distributing objects   Page 8 of 10

After you have several objects on a slide, it can be challenging to get them to align precisely with one another. That's where the Align and Distribute commands come in handy.


Use the Align command when you want two or more objects to match each other in placement. You can align to the top, bottom, right, or left, or you can align one or more objects with an edge of the slide itself. For example, if you select two objects and select to Align Top, the highest point of each object will be at the same vertical position on the page. The objects will not change their horizontal positions.

First, decide whether you want the objects to align relative to one another or relative to the slide itself. If you want the latter, open the Draw menu (on the Drawing toolbar) and select Align or Distribute > Relative to Slide. This places a check mark next to Relative to Slide, and makes it possible for you to use the Align command on single objects. Otherwise, objects align relative to one another, and the minimum number of objects that you can select in order for the command to be available is two.

Next, select the object(s) to align. Hold down the Shift key as you click each one. Then select Draw > Align or Distribute, and select one of the alignment options: Align Left, Align Center, Align Right, Align Top, Align Middle, or Align Bottom, as shown in Figure 2-18.

Figure 2-18: Alignment options.
Figure 2-18: Alignment options.


Distribution refers to the equal spacing of objects. If you distribute with Relative to Slide turned on, you can distribute individual objects. Otherwise, the minimum number of objects required for distributing is three. Distribution is very handy when you need the spacing between a series of objects to be equal, such as when you're arranging photos, as shown in Figure 2-19.

Figure 2-19: These three pictures are distributed horizontally; there's an equal amount of space between them.
Figure 2-19: These three pictures are distributed horizontally; there's an equal amount of space between them.

To distribute, select the object(s), select Draw > Align or Distribute from the Drawing toolbar, and then select either Distribute Horizontally or Distribute Vertically.

 Dissecting and editing clip art images   Page 9 of 10

Have you ever wondered what the difference is between clip art and the AutoShape objects you draw in PowerPoint? The truth is that there is very little difference except for the level of complexity. They're both vector graphics.

Suppose there's a piece of clip art you like, but you want to change a small part of it. You can actually dissect the clip art into its component pieces -- that is, the individual AutoShapes that comprise it -- and edit it in any way you like.

To dissect a piece of clip art, follow these steps:

  1. Insert the clip on the slide and select it. On the Drawing toolbar, select Draw > Ungroup.
  2. A message appears that this is an imported graphic, offering to convert it to a Microsoft Office drawing. Click Yes. The object now appears as a grouped AutoShape drawing. It's still grouped into a single object at this point, as in Figure 2-20.

Figure 2-20: The object is still grouped.
Figure 2-20: The object is still grouped.

  1. Select Draw > Ungroup again. This time it's broken into the individual AutoShapes. Each shape has its own selection handles. If the image doesn't appear to be breaking up very much, select Draw > Ungroup one more time. Figure 2-21 shows a completely ungrouped image.

Figure 2-21: An ungrouped object, with each piece selected (hence the many selection handles).
Figure 2-21: An ungrouped object, with each piece selected (hence the many selection handles).

  1. Click away from it to unselect all the selected pieces, and then click the piece you want to work with.
  2. Modify the drawing as you would any group of AutoShapes. You can resize pieces, change their color, or do anything else you can do to AutoShapes. For example, in Figure 2-22, the color of the hat has been changed.

Figure 2-22: Make changes to individual pieces.
Figure 2-22: Make changes to individual pieces.

  1. When you're finished, regroup the picture by selecting Draw > Regroup.
 Creating a photo album   Page 10 of 10

A photo album is a special layout for a presentation file that focuses primarily on raster images (such as photos). It contains special tools for arranging photos attractively on slides, including decorative flourishes such as corner tabs and captions.

To create a photo album presentation, follow these steps:

  1. Select Insert > Picture > New Photo Album. The Photo Album dialog box appears, as shown in Figure 2-23.

Figure 2-23: The Photo Album dialog box.
Figure 2-23: The Photo Album dialog box.

» Enlarge image

  1. To add a photo from a file on your hard disk, click File/Disk. The Insert New Pictures dialog box appears.
  2. Select one or more pictures and click Insert. (To select multiple pictures from the same source location, hold down Ctrl or Shift as you click the ones you want.)
  3. Continue inserting pictures.

Use the Scanner/Camera button if you have any pictures you want to insert directly from a scanner or camera.

  1. After you get all the pictures imported into the album, arrange them in the order you want by clicking a picture (on the Pictures in Album list), and then clicking the Move Up or Move Down arrow button.
  2. The default layout is Fit to Slide, which shows each picture on a separate slide. If you want multiple pictures per slide, select a different layout from the Picture Layout drop-down list.
  3. If you select a different layout in Step 6, select a frame shape from the Frame Shape drop-down list. Some of these frame shapes have tabs in the corners of the pictures; refer to the preview area to the right to see what each shape entails.
  4. (Optional) To insert text boxes on certain slides, click the New Text Box button. This adds a text box object to the list; you can then move it up or down like one of the photos. (You can type text in the text box later, after leaving the dialog box.) Or, check the Captions below ALL pictures checkbox to insert text boxes for each picture. The default text for each of these caption boxes is the graphic's file name.
  5. Click Create to create the photo album. A new presentation file is created. The title slide reads Photo Album and shows your name as the subtitle, and the rest of the slides lay out the photos in the order you specified. Figure 2-24 shows a photo album in Slide Sorter view.

Figure 2-24: A sample photo album.
Figure 2-24: A sample photo album.

You can return to the Photo Album dialog box by selecting Format > Photo Album. (This command is available only from Normal view, not from Slide Sorter.)

Moving on

In this lesson, you learned several techniques for formatting graphic objects in presentations, including compressing pictures, applying fill effects, and creating photo albums.

Before you move on, do the assignment and quiz, and ask any questions you might have on the Message Board.

In Lesson 3, you'll shift your focus from visual to auditory, and you'll learn how to use sound effects, soundtracks, and narration in presentations.

Congratulations on completing the lesson! Don't forget the following: