Tidying up: layout grids and drawing guides in PowerPoint

For your presentation to appear harmonious and professional, all elements should be properly aligned. Not just on one slide, but across all slides in the presentation. There are two things that make this easier: layout grids and PowerPoint guides.

The layout grid provides a way to allocate space uniformly on a slide. It is based on your corporate design specifications. All the key slide elements are placed relative to this grid, including:  

  • Slide title
  • Subtitle (if included in your corporate design)
  • Content area
  • Footnotes and sources
  • Footer
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Placeholders for all these elements are laid down in the slide master, each with a defined size, font and colour. The footer is usually inserted automatically; the other elements you fill with content yourself. In order to make a tidy impression, it is important to keep precisely to the layout grid, i.e. titles and subtitles should be formulated so that they fit into their respective placeholders. This also makes you come up with short, succinct titles that your audience can follow easily. Likewise, slide contents such as text, images and graphics should not extend beyond the grid bordering the content area.

PowerPoint (drawing) guides are lines arranged on the layout grid to enable objects to be aligned on it quickly. The drawing guides are already in place on a professional master, but you can also add them yourself.

Tip: All PowerPoint slides have an underlying grid (which has nothing to do with the layout grid described above). This grid determines the accuracy with which the drawing guides can be placed (with a default spacing of 0.2 cm). If you are not able to place the drawing guides exactly where you want them, it usually helps to adjust the grid settings.

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