When you’re trying to highlight a key part of a chart or table, you may want to use an arrow. It’s fairly easy to create an arrow in PowerPoint 2007, but it is not as obvious how to create an eye-appealing curved arrow. I find that curved arrows are frequently better than straight arrows because they can bend around other important data points in a chart or table rather blocking them. And let’s face it — straight arrows are very boring.
How can you spot a sexy curved arrow?
Inexperienced PowerPoint users will use straight arrows or ugly curved arrows that look hand drawn. A good curved arrow has a smooth curve – no kinks or abrupt changes in its arc. The more points in an arrow, the more bends you’ll have. The key is to minimize the points or bends (Right click on an arrow and select “Edit Points” to see how many points are in the arrow). The following steps will show you how to add more professional-looking curved arrows to your next set of PowerPoint slides.
Step 1 – Draw the arrow
In PowerPoint 2007, if you use the default “arrow” drawing option, you can only create a straight arrow. For whatever reason, you can’t edit the arrow shape so we have to use another shape which is editable — the Freeform drawing shape. Because you’re going to edit the shape once it is drawn, you don’t have to be exact on your initial drawing. Hit the “Esc” key to stop drawing the arrow once you have two points or a straight line segment.
Step 2 – Edit the points of the arrow
Now that you have a line segment drawn, right click on the line and select “Edit Points” to start adding a curve to the line. Using the blue handle that appears when you click on one of the end points, you’ll be able to change the arc of the line. You may need to play with both ends of the line to achieve the curve you’re looking for. Tip: Make sure your line doesn’t become twisted. Watch the angles of the blue handles — think “smooth” and “gradual”.
Step 3 – Add the arrow end type and width
The last step is to add the arrow’s begin/end type and adjust the width of the arrow. Right click on the curved line segment and select “Format Shape” at the bottom of the pop-up menu. In the Format Shape window, go to the Line Style tab where you will be able to add an end type and change the width. Voila! You have a sexy curved arrow that will be the envy of your co-workers.
Since I created this post, I’ve added another article on another approach to creating a “sexy curved arrow”. Check out my follow-up Part II article.