PowerPoint 101: The Selection Pane



PowerPoint 101 is an ongoing series about designing better PowerPoint presentations.


Have you ever sat down to design a PowerPoint slide and found yourself wishing that PowerPoint had layers like Photoshop? Well it does!


The selection pane is a little-known tool that can be a lifesaver when working on complex slides with many elements, or when doing animations or morph transitions. In our experience, this incredibly useful tool is both under-discussed and underutilized by PowerPoint designers.


The selection pane allows you to label, reorder and toggle (on/off) all the objects on a slide.


While there are other ways to reorder elements in PowerPoint, the Selection Pane is the only way to label items and/or turn them on and off.


The Selection Pane is particularly useful for things like:

  • Isolating and moving an object to the front or back without moving other items on the slide

  • Toggling certain elements of a slide on or off during production to make designing easier

  • Labeling the elements of a complex slide help keep the elements straight

  • Referencing labeled elements to make animating a slide simpler (it can be really hard to to animate a slide when you’re looking at Oval 1, Oval 2, Ovals 3-36...)

  • Labeling objects on a slide to help with complex morph transitions (see this blog post for more on the Morph transition)

To find the Selection Pane, simply select any object and then choose “Shape Format” from the menu at the top. Then, choose the selection pane from the options below. A sidebar menu will pop up on the right.


We hope you find the Selection Pane as useful as we do! Check back with our blog for more tips on using PowerPoint like a pro.


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