Updated – Includes note on gradient fills, the Changing shape option, and Lines is now called Borders and Lines

Along with images, Slides allows you to insert a wide range of shapes and then edit them. This is one of the tools that makes Slides more than just a presentation package, (‘presentation’ as in standing up and presenting something). You can create a slide for a whole host of reasons. For example, a comic, a flyer, a process flow diagram, step-by-step guide, adventure story, game template, floor plan, etc. Adding shapes allows you to represent your ideas. So, here we’ll look at:

  • Inserting shapes
  • Filling a colour
  • Duplicating
  • Rotating
  • Flipping
  • Different types – Shapes, arrows, callouts
  • Line colour, thickness, dash, type
  • Changing shapes

Inserting a shape

To insert a shape click on the “Shape” icon on the toolbar.


This will open a menu with a whole variety of shapes. They are in four categories: Shapes, Arrows, Callouts, and Equation. Here are the shapes available:





Here I’m going to create a simple floor plan, which will show you some of the useful tools that can also be used with shapes, to enable you to create the visual you want. Here from the Shapes options, I’ve added a rectangle. Do this by clicking on the symbol in the menu, then clicking on the slide and dragging the shape to the size you want.


Now I want to add a corner shape. I do the same as above. I want to line it up with the edge of the rectangle. To do this, click and drag the shape until you see the red guideline, which here shows you that the left-hand side of the shape is in line with that of the rectangle.


Changing the fill colour

By default, the shape is filled in with a light grey colour. Let’s change that to a darker one. Click on the “Fill colour” icon on the toolbar.


This opens up the colour palette. You have a choice of a selection of colours, including both solid and gradient fills, plus a group of colours that match the theme, or the option of creating your own colour in the custom section.

Here I’ve selected a dark grey.


Duplicating an element

Now I want to make a duplicate of the rectangle. There are two ways to do this, I can either press Ctrl+D (Cmd + D) and the duplicate will appear just slightly off the original. Or I can hold down Ctrl and drag the original (Alt+drag), and the duplicate will appear and starting moving.


Rotating an element

Now I want to rotate it 90º clockwise. Go to the “Arrange” menu, select “Rotate”, then “Rotate clockwise 90º”. You can access the same menu by right-clicking on the shape, then selecting “Rotate”, etc.


Here we have the rotated rectangle. Now I just drag it to where I want it.


You can also rotate an element by clicking on it and then clicking on the little circle above it, then moving either to the left or right. You’ll see the degrees of rotation appear.


Here I’ve rotated a chord shape, which kind of looks like a chair.


Flipping an element

We can also flip an element either along the vertical plane or the horizontal one. Let’s flip the corner shape. I duplicate it, then right-click on it to open the menu. Select “Rotate” then “flip horizontally”. This produces a mirror image of the original, i.e. the part on the left is now on the right.


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Using the above tools, I can quickly make a floor plan such as the one below.


Other shapes

Now let’s look at some other shapes and their uses. This time I want to produce a simple flow chart showing the steps of a process.

I’ve created 4 text boxes (by duplicating the original three times) and filled them in with orange.


Now I want to show a process by adding some arrows. Click on the shapes icon, then “Arrows”. Click on the arrow you want.


Resize the arrow by dragging the blue squares.


I then change the colour by filling the arrow with a darker grey and duplicate it three times, so that I have the same arrow for each step.


Adding a line colour

Here I also want to add a dark line to the outside of the orange boxes. To do so, I click on the first box, then holding down the shift key, I click on the second box, third box and fourth box. Note, that the arrows aren’t selected here.


Click on the “Line colour” icon on the toolbar.


This opens the colour palette. Click on the colour you want.


This then changes all the boxes. I could of course have done this with the first box then duplicated it, but sometimes we want to change the style of something once the elements have been made.


Adding speech bubbles

If you want to make a comic or a cartoon, you can add speech bubbles it by adding one from “Callouts”.


By default, it has a light grey background like the rectangle we added earlier. Here I’ve changed it to a white background by using Fill colour.


To add text to your bubble, you’ll need to add a text box in it, and type some words.


Here I’ve centred the text box and added bolding, to improve the look of it.


To me, the border of the bubble is too thin, so let’s make it thicker. Click on “Line weight ” on the toolbar and choose a bigger number (i.e. a thicker line).

Changing the line weight

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Changing the line style

We can also change the line style from a solid line to a dotted or dashed line, if for example, I want to show that the comic character is whispering.

Click on “Line dash” on the toolbar and select one of the options.

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Changing border type

There are further line styles you can add, but these are under the Format menu. As an example, let’s add a different border to this welcome sign. At the moment, by default is has a single, thin line as a border.


Go to the “Format” menu, select Borders and lines, Border type, and in this example, I’m going to add a “Triple” line.

There’s not much difference is there? Well that’s because my sign was very small and you can’t see the triple border. Let’s resize it and make it a bit bigger.


Now, you can see the triple lines clearly and as you can see it’s makes a big difference to the look of the sign.



Changing shapes

A more recent addition to Slides has been the ability to change shapes you’ve already created. This means you don’t have to create a new shape every time you want to change an existing one. To do so, just click on the shape you want to change.

Go to the Format menu and click “Changing shapes” then you’ll be presented with the same shape options as creating a new shape.

Select the one you want and it will change the shape for you. Simple but effective.

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Baz Roberts (Google+Flipboard / Twitter)