Aligning, Ordering, and Grouping Objects

There may be times when your documents have multiple objects, such as pictures, shapes, and text boxes. You can arrange the objects any way you want by aligning, grouping, ordering, and rotating them in various ways.

To align two or more objects:

Hold the Shift (or Ctrl) key and click the objects you want to align. In our example, we’ll select the four shapes on the right.

From the Format tab, click the Align command, then select one of the alignment options. In our example, we’ll choose Align Right.

The objects will be aligned based on the selected option. In our example, the shapes are now aligned with each other.

Note that the Align Selected Objects option is selected by default, which allows you to align objects without moving them to a different part of the page. However, if you want to move the objects the top or bottom of the page, select Align to Page or Align to Margin before choosing an alignment option.

To distribute objects evenly:

If you have arranged your 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.

Hold the Shift (or Ctrl) key and click the objects you want to distribute.

On the Format tab, click the Align command, then select Distribute Horizontally or Distribute Vertically.

The objects will be evenly spaced from one another.

Grouping objects

At times, you may want to group multiple objects into one object so they will stay together. This is usually easier than selecting them individually, and it also allows you to resize and move all of the objects at the same time.

To group objects:

Hold the Shift (or Ctrl) key and click the objects you want to group.

Click the Group command on the Format tab, then select Group.

The selected objects will now be grouped. There will be a single box with sizing handles around the entire group so you can move or resize all of the objects at the same time.

To ungroup objects:

Select the grouped object. From the Format tab, click the Group command and select Ungroup.

The objects will be ungrouped.

Ordering objects

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

Understanding levels

Objects are placed on different levels according to the order in which they were inserted into a document. In the example below, if we move the waves image to the beginning of the document, it covers up several of the text boxes. That’s because the image is currently on the highest—or top—level. However, we can change its level to put it behind the other objects.

an object covering up other objects on the page

To change an object’s level:

Select the object you want to move. In our example, we’ll select the image of the waves.

From the Format tab, click the Bring Forward or Send Backward command to change the object’s ordering by one level. In our example, we’ll select Send Backward.

The objects will be reordered. In our example, the image is now behind the text on the left, but it’s still covering the shapes on the right.

If you want to move an object behind or in front of several objects, it’s usually faster to use Bring Forward or Send Backward instead of clicking the other ordering command multiple times.

In our example, the image has been moved behind everything else on the page, so all of the other text and shapes are visible.

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 different level. To view the Selection Pane, click Selection Pane on the Format tab.

To rotate or flip an object:

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

With the desired object selected, click the Rotate command on the Format tab, then choose the desired rotation option. In our example, we’ll choose Flip Horizontal.

The object will be rotated. In our example, we can now see the bubbles on the left that were previously hidden behind the text boxes.

Aligning objects

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.

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.

To align two or more objects:

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.

From the Format tab, click the Align command, then select Align Selected Objects.

Click the Align command again, then select one of the six alignment options.

The objects will align based on the option you selected.

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.

Select the objects you want to align. To select multiple objects at once, hold the Shift key while you click.

From the Format tab, click the Align command, then select Align to Slide.

Click the Align command again, then select one of the six alignment options.

The objects will align based on the option you selected.

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.

Select the objects you want to align. To select multiple objects at once, hold the Shift key while you click.

From the Format tab, click the Align command, then select Align to Slide or Align Selected Objects.

Click the Align command again, then select Distribute Horizontally or Distribute Vertically from the drop-down menu that appears.

The objects will distribute 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.

To group objects:

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.

From the Format tab, click the Group command, then select Group.

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.

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.

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.

To ungroup objects:

Select the object group you want to ungroup.

From the Format tab, click the Group command, then select Ungroup.

The objects will be ungrouped.

 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.

To change the ordering by one level:

Select an object. The Format tab will appear.

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.

The objects will reorder.

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.

Select an object.

From the Format tab, click the Bring Forward or Send Backward drop-down arrow.

From the drop-down menu, select Bring to Front or Send to Back.

The objects will reorder.

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.

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:

Select an object. The Format tab will appear.

From the Format tab, click the Rotate command. A drop-down menu will appear.

Select the desired rotation option.

The object will rotate.

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