Aligning, Ordering, and Grouping Objects

In PowerPoint align objects so they look more appealing and use the PowerPoint order of objects feature to rearrange them how you want.

Introduction

In PowerPoint, each slide may have multiple items, such as pictures, shapes, and text boxes. You can arrange the objects the way you want by aligning, ordering, grouping, and rotating them in various ways.

Optional: Download our practice presentation.

Watch the video below to learn more about aligning, ordering, and grouping objects in PowerPoint.

Aligning objects

When you move objects in PowerPoint, alignment guides and spacing guides will appear as dashed orange lines and arrows around the objects to help you align them. However, if you have many different objects on a slide, it may be difficult and time consuming to get them perfectly aligned. Luckily, PowerPoint provides you with several alignment commands that allow you to easily arrange and position objects.

The alignment and spacing guides

To align two or more objects:

  1. Select the objects you want to align. To select multiple objects at once, hold the Shift key while you click. The Format tab will appear.
    Selecting multiple objects
  2. From the Format tab, click the Align command, then select Align Selected Objects.
    Choosing Align Selected Objects
  3. Click the Align command again, then select one of the six alignment options.
    Choosing an alignment option
  4. The objects will align based on the option you selected.
    The aligned objects

To align objects to the slide:

Sometimes you may want to align one or more objects to a specific location within the slide, such as at the top or bottom. You can do this by selecting the Align to Slide option before aligning the objects.

  1. Select the objects you want to align. To select multiple objects at once, hold the Shift key while you click.
    Selecting multiple objects
  2. From the Format tab, click the Align command, then select Align to Slide.
    Selecting Align to Slide
  3. Click the Align command again, then select one of the six alignment options.
    Aligning objects to the bottom of the slide
  4. The objects will align based on the option you selected.
    The aligned objects

To distribute objects evenly:

If you have arranged objects in a row or column, you may want them to be an equal distance from one another for a neater appearance. You can do this by distributing the objects horizontally or vertically.

  1. Select the objects you want to align. To select multiple objects at once, hold the Shift key while you click.
  2. From the Format tab, click the Align command, then select Align to Slide or Align Selected Objects.
    Choosing Align Selected Objects
  3. Click the Align command again, then select Distribute Horizontally or Distribute Vertically from the drop-down menu that appears.
    Choosing a distribute option
  4. The objects will distribute evenly.
    Objects distributed evenly

Grouping objects

You may want to group multiple objects into one object so they will stay together if they are moved or resized. This is often easier than selecting all of the objects each time you want to move them.

Pictures, shapes, clip art, and text boxes can all be grouped; however, placeholders cannot be grouped. If you will be grouping pictures, use one of the commands in the Images group on the Insert tab to insert pictures instead of the picture icon inside the placeholder.

The Images group on the Insert tab

To group objects:

  1. Select the objects you want to align. To select multiple objects at once, hold the Shift key while you click. The Format tab will appear.
    Selecting multiple objects
  2. From the Format tab, click the Group command, then select Group.
    Grouping objects
  3. The selected objects will now be grouped. There will be a single box with sizing handles around the entire group to show that they are one group. You can now move or resize all of the objects at once.
    The grouped objects

If you want to edit or move one of the objects in the group, double-click to select the object. You can then edit it or move it to the desired location.

Selecting an object within a group

If you select the objects and the Group command is disabled, it may be because one of the objects is inside a placeholder. If this happens, try reinserting the images by using the Pictures command on the Insert tab.

The Pictures command

To ungroup objects:

  1. Select the object group you want to ungroup.
  2. From the Format tab, click the Group command, then select Ungroup.
    Ungrouping objects
  3. The objects will be ungrouped.
    The ungrouped objects

Ordering objects

In addition to aligning objects, PowerPoint gives you the ability to arrange objects in a specific order. The ordering is important when two or more objects overlap because it will determine which objects are in the front or the back.

Understanding levels

When objects are inserted into a slide, they are placed on levels according to the order in which they were inserted into the slide. In our example, we've drawn an arrow on the top level, but we can change the level to put it behind the other objects.

The top level

To change the ordering by one level:

  1. Select an object. The Format tab will appear.
    The selected object
  2. From the Format tab, click the Bring Forward or Send Backward command to change the object's ordering by one level. If there are multiple objects on the slide, you may need to click the command several times to achieve the desired ordering.
    Sending an object backward
  3. The objects will reorder.
    The reordered objects

To bring an object to the front or back:

If you want to move an object behind or in front of several objects, it's usually faster to bring it to front or send it to back instead of clicking the ordering commands multiple times.

  1. Select an object.
  2. From the Format tab, click the Bring Forward or Send Backward drop-down arrow.
    The dropdown arrow
  3. From the drop-down menu, select Bring to Front or Send to Back.
    Sending an object to the back
  4. The objects will reorder.
    The reordered objects

If you have several objects placed on top of each other, it may be difficult to select an individual object. The Selection pane allows you to easily drag an object to a new location. To access the Selection pane, click Selection Pane on the Format Tab.

Arranging objects in the Selection Pane

Rotating objects

If you need to turn an object so it faces a different direction, you can rotate it to the left or right or flip it horizontally or vertically.

To rotate an object:

  1. Select an object. The Format tab will appear.
    Selecting an object
  2. From the Format tab, click the Rotate command. A drop-down menu will appear.
  3. Select the desired rotation option.
    Selecting a rotation option
  4. The object will rotate.
    The rotated image

Challenge!

  1. Open our practice presentation.
  2. On the last slide, select the picture of the hamburger and Rotate Left 90°.
  3. Hold down the Shift key and select all three food pictures. Make sure you do not select the green diamonds.
  4. Check Align to Slide under the Align command, then Align to Middle.
  5. With the pictures still selected, Distribute Horizontally.
  6. Select the first green diamond and send it behind the breakfast picture.
  7. When you're finished, your slide should look like this:
    Aligning Challenge