PowerPoint 2016: SmartArt Graphics

Lesson 24: SmartArt Graphics



SmartArt allows you to communicate information with graphics instead of just using text. There are a variety of styles to choose from, which you can use to illustrate different types of ideas.

Watch the video below to learn more about working with SmartArt.

To insert a SmartArt graphic:

  1. Select the slide where you want the SmartArt graphic to appear.
  2. From the Insert tab, select the SmartArt command in the Illustrations group.
    selecting the SmartArt command on the Insert tab
  3. A dialog box will appear. Select a category on the left, choose the desired SmartArt graphic, then click OK.
    choosing a SmartArt graphic
  4. The SmartArt graphic will appear on the current slide.
    the inserted smartart

You can also click the Insert a SmartArt Graphic command in a placeholder to add SmartArt.

Inserting a SmartArt Graphic from a placeholder

To add text to a SmartArt graphic:

  1. Select the SmartArt graphic. The text pane will appear to the left. If it doesn't appear, click the small arrow on the left of the SmartArt graphic to toggle it on and off.
    opening the text pane
  2. Enter text next to each bullet in the text pane. The text will appear in the corresponding shape. It will be resized automatically to fit inside the shape.
    adding text to the SmartArt graphic

You can also add text by clicking the desired shape and then typing. This works well if you only need to add text to a few shapes. However, for more complex SmartArt graphics, working in the text pane is often quicker and easier.

adding text directly in the shapes of the SmartArt instead of the text pane

To reorder, add, and delete shapes:

It's easy to add new shapes, change their order, and even delete shapes from your SmartArt graphic. You can do all of this in the text pane, and it's a lot like creating an outline with a multilevel list. For more information on multilevel lists, you may want to review our Lists lesson.

  • To demote a shape, select the desired bullet, then press the Tab key. The bullet will move to the right, and the shape will move down one level.
    demoting a shape in the text pane
  • To promote a shape, select the desired bullet, then press the Backspace key (or Shift+Tab). The bullet will move to the left, and the shape will move up one level.
    promoting a shape
  • To add a new shape, place the insertion point after the desired bullet, then press Enter. A new bullet will appear in the text pane, and a new shape will appear in the graphic.
    adding a shape to the graphic
  • To remove a shape, keep pressing Backspace until the bullet is deleted. The shape will then be removed. In our example, we'll delete all of the shapes without text.
    deleting unused shapes from the SmartArt graphic

Organizing SmartArt from the Design tab

If you'd prefer not to use the text pane to organize your SmartArt, you can use the commands on the Design tab in the Create Graphic group. Just select the shape you want to modify, then choose the desired command.

  • Promote and Demote: Use these commands to move a shape up or down between levels.
    the Promote and Demote commands
  • Move Up and Move Down: Use these commands to change the order of shapes on the same level.
    the move up and move down commands
  • Add Shape: Use this command to add a new shape to your graphic. You can also click the drop-down arrow for more exact placement options.
    Clicking the add shape command drop-down menu

In our example, we've been organizing a graphic with a hierarchical layout. Not all SmartArt graphics use this type of layout, so remember that these commands may work differently (or not at all) depending on the layout of your graphic.

    Customizing SmartArt

    After inserting SmartArt, there are several things you might want to change about its appearance. Whenever you select a SmartArt graphic, the Design and Format tabs will appear on the right side of the Ribbon. From there, it's easy to edit the style and layout of a SmartArt graphic.

    • There are several SmartArt styles, which allow you to quickly modify the look and feel of your SmartArt. To change the style, select the desired style from the SmartArt styles group.
      choosing a SmartArt style
    • You have a variety of color schemes to use with SmartArt. To change the colors, click the Change Colors command and choose the desired option from the drop-down menu.
      changing the smartart colors
    • You can also customize each shape independently. Just select any shape in the graphic, then choose the desired option from the Format tab.
      customizing an individual shape

    To change the SmartArt layout:

    If you don't like the way your information is organized within a SmartArt graphic, you can always change its layout to better fit your content.

    1. From the Design tab, click the More drop-down arrow in the Layouts group.
      clicking the More drop-down arrow
    2. Choose the desired layout, or click More Layouts to see even more options.
      choosing a different SmartArt layout
    3. The selected layout will appear.
      the new SmartArt layout

    If the new layout is too different from the original, some of your text may not appear. Before deciding on a new layout, check carefully to make sure no important information will be lost.


    1. Open a blank presentation and insert a new slide with a Title and Content layout.
    2. In the Title placeholder, type The Water Cycle.
    3. In the Content placeholder, choose the SmartArt command and insert a Basic Cycle SmartArt graphic from the Cycle category.
    4. Insert the following text in clockwise order: Condensation, Evaporation, Infiltration, Precipitation, Collection.
    5. Delete the shape containing the word Infiltration.
    6. Select the shape containing Evaporation, and click the Move Down command twice to move the shape between Collection and Condensation.
    7. Change the SmartArt Layout to Block Cycle.
    8. Change the colors of the SmartArt to a range of your choice.
    9. Change the SmartArt Style to Intense Effect. The style names will appear when you hover over them.
    10. When you're finished, your slide should look something like this:
      SmartArt Challenge