Formatting Pictures In PowerPoint

In addition to changing the size and location of a picture on a slide in your PowerPoint presentation, you can change a lot of other characteristics too. To open up the Format Picture window, right click on a picture and select Format Picture.

Format Picture

The Format Picture window will appear on the right of the workspace.

Format Picture Window

In the window are listed seven different categories of properties you can change. Just click on a formatting category to open up its options. Let’s go through them one by one.


Shadow Options

If you click the presets button, you will see a gallery of ready made shadows to apply to the image. In most cases, one of the shadow presets will be good enough and you can select one and then move on. If, however, you require more control over the shadow, you can explore the other shadow options:

  • Colour – the shadow doesn’t have to be black or grey. You can use the colour picker to select a different colour for the shadow.
  • Transparency – typically, a shadow is somewhat transparent. You can drag the transparency slider to increase or decrease the shadow’s transparency, or you can type in a precise percentage in the input box. The higher the percentage, the more see through the shadow becomes.
  • Size – use this control to change the size of the shadow.
  • Blur – sometimes you can give the shadow a softer look by adding a blur to it.
  • Angle – use this control to change the angle that the shadow makes with the image. The default is 90 degrees, which means the shadow falls directly below the image.
  • Distance – this relates to how far the shadow travels from the picture. Note that if you make the distance too great, the shadow won’t look realistic.

A good idea is to apply a shadow from the preset gallery and then amend it using the additional options described above. If you decide that you want to remove the shadow, click on the shadow presets button and select No Shadow (at the top).

Shadow Presets


Reflection Options

Use the presets button at the top to apply a pre-made reflection to your picture. Or/and use the following options to tweak the reflection:

  • Transparency – make the reflection more or less transparent by dragging the slider, or type in a precise percentage for the transparency in the input box.
  • Size – you can increase the size of the reflection using this control.
  • Blur – add realism to the reflection by setting a small amount of blur.
  • Distance – the distance relates to how far away from the picture the reflection starts.

To remove a reflection quickly, click on the presets button and select No Reflection (at the top).


Glow Options
As with all the other formatting options, use a preset and/or use the individual options that control the property.

  • Colour – the glow has a colour; set it here.
  • Size – make the glow bigger or smaller with this control.
  • Transparency – make the glow more see through or more solid using this control.

To remove a glow, click on the presets button and select No Glow at the top.

Soft Edges

Soft Edges Options
Use a preset using the preset button, or simply set the size of the soft edges using the slider/input box.

Giving a picture soft edges makes its boundaries merge with the surrounding slide. The edges become blurred and you can see what is behind the image through the blur.

3D Format

3D Format Options

Don’t feel intimidated by all the options available for 3D format; they are all concerned with adding a bevel to the picture.

  • Top bevel – adds a top bevel. Clicking this button displays a gallery of different kinds of top bevel to choose from.
  • Bottom bevel – adds a top bevel. Clicking this button displays a gallery of different kinds of bottom bevel to choose from.

3D Rotation

3D Rotation Options

3D rotation allows you to rotate your picture around different axes. Use a preset first of all to get an idea of what kinds of effects you can get.

  • X Rotation – type in a number of degrees that you want to rotate the image about the x-axis. There are also buttons to the right which, when clicked, rotate the picture by increments of 5 degrees.
  • Y Rotation – type in a number of degrees that you want to rotate the image about the y-axis. There are also buttons to the right which, when clicked, rotate the picture by increments of 5 degrees.
  • Z Rotation – type in a number of degrees that you want to rotate the image about the z-axis. There are also buttons to the right which, when clicked, rotate the picture by increments of 5 degrees.

Artistic Effects

Artistic Effects Options
Artistic effects are a whole host of special effects you can apply to your picture. Click on the Artistic Effects button to display the gallery:
Artistic Effects Gallery

Only when you select an artistic effect will additional options appear for you to tweak the settings. For example, when we select the Light Screen artistic effect, we will see the following additional options appear:
Light Screen Options

Gradient Fill Background In PowerPoint

To format the background of your PowerPoint presentation, right click on a slide and select Format Background. If you can’t see that option, it may be that you have right clicked on some element like a picture or a text box, so right click on a blank area of the slide. The Format Background panel will appear to the right of the workspace.

A gradient is a smooth transition from one colour to another, and gradient backgrounds can look cool. When you select the gradient fill option, extra options will appear on the panel. Here is an explanation of what each one does:

Preset Gradients

When you click on Preset gradients, PowerPoint shows you all the ready made gradients that you can use with just one click.

Preset Gradients

Click on your chosen background to apply it to the currently selected slide. Although you have selected a preset background, you can still amend it to your own requirements using the following options.


The type of gradient you choose controls the shape and orientation of the gradient.

Type Of Gradient

  • Linear – the colours in the gradient change on a straight line.
  • Radial – the shape of the gradient is circular, with one colour being the “focus” and the change in the colours radiating outwards.
  • Rectangular – like the radial gradient, but the shape of the gradient is rectangular.
  • Path – similar to radial or rectangular gradient types, but they radiate using a shape as a path. A triangular shape shows a triangular gradient, a star shows a star-spread gradient, etc.
  • Shade from title – applies a gradient fill to the background that begins from the slide title and ends on the edges of the slide.


Direction could equally be called orientation, because this option doesn’t just control the direction of the colour change in the gradient (e.g. in a linear gradient), but it also controls where the focus is (e.g. in a radial gradient).


Used with the direction option, angle controls the orientation of the gradient. For some types of gradient, like radial, the angle is meaningless (and therefore disabled), but for others, like linear, the angle is useful. And angle of 45 degrees on a linear gradient means that the colours change along the direction of an imaginary straight line that travels at 45 degrees to the horizontal.

Gradient stops, colour, position and transparency

These options all work together and control what colours you see in the gradient, how close they are together and how transparent they are.

To add a new colour stop, click on a blank area of the gradient ramp:

Click On Gradient Ramp

To remove a gradient stop, drag it off the gradient ramp.

You can change a stop’s colour by selecting it and then clicking on the colour selector.

You can easily change the distance between the colours in your gradient by dragging a stop along the ramp, but you have even more control by typing in a precise number into the Position box. This is a percentage that represents how far along the ramp the stop is in relation to the left edge of the colour ramp.

The transparency option controls how see-through the colour is. You can either drag the slider to change the value, or type in a precise percentage.

Once happy with your gradient settings, you can choose to apply the gradient to all slides in your presentation by clicking the Apply to All button at the bottom.  If you don’t, the gradient background will only appear on the currently selected slide.

If you decide that you have made a hash of things, you can always click Reset Background, at the bottom.

The best thing to do to get a feel for how each type of gradient looks is to try each one out. You can always ctrl + z to undo what you have applied.