In Power Tip #6, we talked about the basic Shapes in Office for Mac, today I will show you one really powerful undocumented Shapes feature in PowerPoint 2011.
What if you need a graphic that is somewhat more complex than the basic Office shapes? For example, if you need graphics like any of these:
(And for you Star Trek fans out there: Yes, the shape in the lower right corner is the Vulcan IDIC symbol, built from PowerPoint 2011 shapes, plus a piece of clip art from Office.com for the jewel.)
Shapes like these can be built from the 172 basic shapes in Office using four undocumented shape operations that enable you to graphically merge sets of shapes: Combine, Union, Intersect, and Subtract. Here are graphical definitions of these four operations:
There is only one way to access these four operations. Right click on a selection that contains two or more shapes, and display the Grouping sub-menu:
In this short movie, I use these operations to construct a hexagon shape with a heart-shaped hole and a rectangular appendage:
Neither Word nor Excel provide access to these four shape operations, but if you create such new, complex shapes in PowerPoint, you can paste them into Word or Excel:
I hope this background on Shapes, and this tip on the four undocumented shape operations, helps you create exactly the great-looking graphics you want to add to your presentations, documents, and spreadsheets.
On a personal note, by the time you read this I will have left Microsoft, so this is my last Power Tip. Writing these posts, and answering your questions, has been one of the most enjoyable tasks I have had the pleasure to work on in my 8 years at Microsoft. The Power Tip series will be continued by some of the excellent coworkers in the Mac team at Microsoft, albeit perhaps not with the zany humor of quoting Spiderman’s Uncle Ben while rendering a complex summation in the Zafino font, or in sneaking in a disclosure about a non-feature in future version of Office for Mac.