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Using AutoShapes

In addition to the rectangle, oval, text box, and line tools, a treasure-trove of other less commonly used drawing tools appears when you select the AutoShapes tool. These fall into eight categories:

  • Lines. Contains six tools, including the Line, Arrow, and Double-Arrow tools. Three new tools in PowerPoint 97—Curve, Freeform, and Scribble—are used to draw irregular shapes and lines that have no constraints as to shape or angle. In effect, using these tools is like drawing with a pencil, with any jags or shifts in your mouse movement reflected in the line.

  • Connectors. Consists of nine special line tools you can use to draw connecting lines between other objects on a slide. These come in handy for tasks such as building a process description or organizational chart where the relationship between several objects must be shown visually. They automatically "snap" to connecting points on other objects, and once connected, stay connected even though you later move the object elsewhere on the slide (see Figures 6.6 and 6.7).

  • Basic Shapes contains 32 shapes, ranging from the simple rectangle and oval to cubes, smiley faces, and heart shapes, as shown in the side menu in Figure 6.8.

  • Block Arrows.Provides 28 arrow shapes, including the examples shown in Figure 6.9. These are also useful for showing the flow of activity or relationships with a little more graphic punch than connector lines have.

    Figure 6.6. Setting up a simple flow chart is a piece of cake with PowerPoint's new Connector tool.

    Figure 6.7. And when you move the connected shapes, the connector lines follow along.

    Figure 6.8. Drawing valentines, rainbows, or even no-smoking signs becomes a snap with some of these built-in shapes and a little imagination.

    Figure 6.9. The flow of a process of material can be shown using a variety of block arrow shapes; three different examples are used here.

  • Flowchart. Offers 28 shapes that you can use to build the elements of a process flow or organizational chart. Several of these shapes are useful for equipment diagrams or cross sections, such as the cylinder or crosshair in a circle. Used in combination with connectors or block arrows, these can allow you to build very detailed and effective illustrations.

  • Stars and Banners. A selection of 12 AutoShapes that provide you with stars and banner shapes of various designs. These can be effective on slides that contain product announcements or an exciting bit of news, as shown in Figure 6.10.

    Figure 6.10. A starburst and banner, combined with a WordArt effect and text box, make an announcement much more dynamic.

  • Callouts. Consist of 20 tools that allow you to draw text annotations in forms that range from simple lines to cartoon-like bubble captions. If you choose the Rectangular, Rounded Rectangular, Oval, or Cloud callouts, you then draw them just as you would a rectangle or ellipse. Click where you want the upper-left corner of the callout to appear, then drag to make it the size you want. To use the Line Style callouts, choose the one you want, place your mouse on the object where you want the callout to point to, then drag your mouse. When you release your mouse button, the callout object offers you a text box area to enter the callout text. Once you've placed the callout, you can use the yellow diamond-shaped handles to modify the callout lines.

  • Action Buttons. Twelve button shapes you can place on a PowerPoint slide, with common symbols like a question mark for help or a small speaker to represent a sound file. Choose the button you want, then click your slide where you want the upper-left corner of the button to appear. PowerPoint draws the button in its default size, and then opens the Action Settings dialog box so you can specify what should happen when you click the button during a show. You can associate an Action Button with a sound or movie file, a hyperlink to a World Wide Web site, or have it run a program on your system. See Chapter 9 for more on animation and action settings.



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