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PowerPoint 101: The Selection Pane


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 hidden tool in PowerPoint that can be a lifesaver when working on complex slides, or when doing animations or morph transitions. In our experience, this incredibly useful tool is both under-discussed and underutilized by PowerPoint creators.


Say hello to the Selection Pane

The selection pane allows you to label, reorder and toggle all the objects on a slide on/off (that is, visible or not). This is great for managing slides with complex animations or lots of design elements. 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.


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.




Once it's open, the Selection Pane will show you all the elements on your slide, including text boxes, shapes, images, and so on.


From there, you can drag items to reorder them, or highlight an element and use the buttons at the bottom of the Pane.






How to use the Selection Pane

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 elements of a slide on or off during production

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

  • Referencing labeled elements to make animating a slide simpler (it can be really hard 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)


While most people have probably never used the Selection Pane before, once you get used to the added control it gives, we think you'll be going back to it day after day!


Update (02/24): we’ve revised this article to add some additional details on the Selection Pane in PowerPoint.


Looking for more information about presentation visuals and beyond? Check out our resources for expert advice and tested strategies.



About the author

Kyle Kartz is the Creative Director of Storytelling at VerdanaBold. He is an expert copywriter and strategist, with experience driving major campaigns for global brands in multiple industries. He is passionate about communications, the outdoors, and cooking.


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