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PowerPoint 2013: Smarter Guides

A Tale of Two Guides

There are two types of guides in PowerPoint: Smart Guides and Static Guides, and both of them have been improved in the new version of PowerPoint.

Smart Guides: Now Even Smarter

In case you don’t know what Smart Guides are, they’re the dashed lines that appear to help you with alignment as you move shapes around the slide. Here’s an example of what they look like in PowerPoint 2010:


Not only do they look better in the new version of PowerPoint, they help you in more ways.

Equidistant Alignment

Smart guides aren’t just for direct alignment, they can also help you have consistent spacing between shapes. When trying to align 3 or more shapes to be the same distance apart, small arrows will appear to let you know that the spacing is identical. Here’s an example:


Resize Snapping

Have you ever wanted to resize a shape so that the edges of two shapes line up exactly? Smart guides can help do just that. As you resize a shape you’ll see the Smart Guides appear letting you know that the edges are perfectly aligned:


Static Guides: Pretty and Useful

Finding and enabling guides used to be hard – but no more! We’ve added a new context menu. Just right click on the slide’s background and from the “Grid and Guides” menu select Guides and presto Guides are turned on. There is a bunch of other useful stuff in that menu too!


Color Me Impressed

We’ve added the ability to customize guides by giving them one of ten different colors, allowing you to use colors to denote different meanings or just make them pretty. All you have to do is right-click on a Guide, select the Color menu and chose whatever color speaks to you. There are some other useful commands in this menu as well such as the ability to duplicate or delete guides.


Locking, or “Mastering” Guides

One of the biggest improvements to guides is the ability to add guides to a Slide Master and have them appear on all slides that inherit from that particular master. This means that if you add a blue guide to the Slide Master, your “Title and Content” layout will have the blue guide on it (since it inherits from the master), and so will any slide in your presentation that uses a layout from the Slide Master.

What makes this even more powerful is that even though you can see this blue guide on the “Title and Content” Layout and on the slides in your presentation you can’t edit it. The only way to edit these guides is to go back to the Slide Master where you originally added them. This helps prevent accidental editing of these Guides.

Shape Nudging – So Smooth, it’s Almost Criminal

Another way to align shapes is to nudge them into place. If you’ve ever thought “there’s no way to improve nudging shapes with the arrow keys” – take a deep breath, grab a seat and mentally prepare yourself.

Selecting a shape and tapping any of the arrow keys now moves the shape a very precise amount allowing you to really perfect your layout. One might think this comes at the cost of it taking forever to move a shape across the slide, and that’s why we’ve always snapped shapes to the grid so that they move farther with each nudge. This release we’ve turned off the grid so nudging is as precise as it gets. To help users nudge shapes long distances we’ve made another key improvement. Holding down the arrow key will cause the shape to accelerate, making it easier to span great distances quickly – it’s the best of both worlds. Moving shapes with the keyboard has never been easier. Give it a try!

-Daniel Altin
Program Manager, PowerPoint

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