Save Time with These Drawing Tricks and Shortcuts in Microsoft PowerPoint

by Avantix Learning Team | Updated February 4, 2021

Applies to: Microsoft® PowerPoint® 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019 and 365 (Windows)

Check out these PowerPoint drawing tricks and shortcuts that can save you a lot of time. You can use them in Normal View or Slide Master View.

Recommended article: How to Change Slide Size or Dimensions in PowerPoint

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1. Drawing a perfect square or circle

To draw a perfect square or circle:

  1. Click the Insert tab in the Ribbon.
  2. Click Shapes and select the desired shape from the drop-down menu. In this case, select a rectangle or oval.
  3. Hold down Shift and the left mouse button and drag to create the shape on the slide. It will be constrained to a perfect circle or square.
  4. Release the mouse button and then release Shift.

PowerPoint trick draw a perfect circle.

You can use this trick with other shapes as well.

2. Drawing a straight line

To draw a straight line:

  1. Click the Insert tab in the Ribbon.
  2. Click Shapes and select the desired line from the drop-down menu.
  3. Hold down Shift and the left mouse button and drag to create the line on the slide. It will be constrained to a straight line.
  4. Release the mouse button and then release Shift.

3. Quickly drawing multiple copies of a shape

If you want to quickly draw multiple copies of the same shape:

  1. Click the Insert tab in the Ribbon.
  2. Click Shapes and point to the desired shape from the drop-down menu.
  3. Right-click the shape in the menu and select Lock Drawing Mode from the drop-down menu. The pointer will change to a plus sign.
  4. Hold down the left mouse button and drag to create the first shape on the slide.
  5. Continue dragging in different areas on the slide to create multiple shapes.
  6. Press Escape to change the crosshair back to the pointer or selection tool.

Note: This trick does not work with the Scribble tool.

4. Copying formatting from one shape to other shapes using the Format Painter

The Format Painter is a great tool for copying formatting in PowerPoint. It appears on the Home tab in the Ribbon:

PowerPoint trick use the Format Painter to copy formatting.

To copy formatting from one shape to other shapes using the Format Painter:

  1. Create the first shape and format it (you can use the Drawing Tools Format tab in the Ribbon or right-click the shape and select options from the dialog box (2010) or the task pane (2013 and later versions).
  2. Click the shape with the formatting you wish to copy.
  3. Click the Home tab in the Ribbon.
  4. Double-click the Format Painter in the Clipboard group.
  5. Click each drawing object to which you want to copy the formatting.
  6. Press Escape to turn off the Format Painter.

5. Copying formatting from one shape to other shapes using keyboard shortcuts

To copy formatting from one shape to other shapes using keyboard shortcuts:

  1. Create the first shape and format it.
  2. Select the shape with the formatting you wish to copy.
  3. Press Ctrl + Shift + C.
  4. Select the first shape to which you want to copy the formatting.
  5. Press Ctrl + Shift + V.
  6. Select the next shape to which you want to copy the formatting.
  7. Press Ctrl+ Shift + V.
  8. Repeat for other shapes.

6. Setting the default formatting for shapes

If you're going to be creating many shapes with the same formatting, a useful strategy is to set the default formatting.

To set the default formatting for shapes (such as fill and outline):

  1. Create a shape and format it.
  2. Right-click the shape and choose Set as Default Shape from the drop-down menu.
  3. Draw another shape. The new shape will appear with the default formatting (such as fill, outline, etc.).

Below is the context menu that appears when you right-click on a shape:

Context senstive menu that appears for shapes in Microsoft PowerPoint.

7. Making a copy of a shape using the mouse

To make a copy of a shape using the mouse:

  1. Point to the shape on a slide that you want to copy.
  2. Press Ctrl and the left mouse button and drag to create a copy.

8. Making a copy of a shape using a keyboard shortcut

To make a copy of a shape using a keyboard shortcut:

  1. Select the shape on a slide that you want to copy.
  2. Press Ctrl + D to duplicate the shape.

9. Grouping and ungrouping using keyboard shortcuts

To group shapes using a keyboard shortcut:

  1. Select the shapes you want to group (usually the easiest way to do this is to Shift-click on each shape).
  2. Press Ctrl + G.

To ungroup shapes that have been grouped:

  1. Select the shape you want to ungroup.
  2. Press Ctrl + Shift + G.

10. Drawing with the keyboard

You can draw shapes using only the keyboard (do not hold down Shift at any time during this process):

  1. Press Alt. Key tips appear in the Ribbon.
  2. Press N to activate the Insert tab.
  3. Press S and then H. The shapes menu appears.
  4. Use the arrow keys to highlight the shape you want to draw.
  5. Press Ctrl + Enter. The shape will be drawn automatically on the slide.
  6. To format the shape, press Escape until no objects are selected.
  7. Keep pressing tab until the shape is selected.
  8. Press Shift + F10 (or the Context button on some keyboards) and select the desired options.

If you are using a keyboard only, check out the series on keyboard navigation in Microsoft Office.

If you do a lot of drawing in PowerPoint, these tricks and shortcuts can save a lot of time.

This article was first published on August 14, 2016 and has been updated for clarity and content.

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More resources

7 Shortcuts to Select Objects in PowerPoint

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How to Compress Images in PowerPoint (10 Ways)

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How to Add Animation in PowerPoint (Animate Text, Images and Other Objects)

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Summary
10 Great PowerPoint Drawing Tricks and Shortcuts
Article Name
10 Great PowerPoint Drawing Tricks and Shortcuts
Description
Check out these PowerPoint drawing tricks and shortcuts that can save you a lot of time. You can use them in Normal View or Slide Master View.
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Avantix Learning Inc.

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