3 Minutes That Can Save You Hours in PowerPoint Design

By Taylor Croonquist

Investing three minutes in PowerPoint to save 60? Not a bad return on your time, especially when you realize it will pay dividends for years to come when working in the program.

You might do a double take when I say the key is the alignment tool (which doesn’t sound very exciting), because in true Nuts & Bolts fashion, I’m going to show you how to fast track the heck out of it. The set up will take you about 3 minutes.

That will allow you to whip through some of your most repetitive PowerPoint tasks…saving you at least 60 minutes a week.

The Importance of the Alignment Tool

In my mind, the alignment tool is arguably the most important command in all of PowerPoint for two reasons.

Reason #1: It’s one of the most repetitive actions you perform in PowerPoint day-in and day-out, aligning and positioning your objects.

Reason #2: It helps to dramatically improve the professionalism of your slides. Unaligned objects stick out like a sore thumb and often detract from whatever you are saying.

As such, getting a good grip on the alignment tool will not only radically improve your speed and productivity in the program, it will also improve the professionalism of all your presentations.

Investing 3 Minutes to Save 60

To see how to set this up and for a quick demonstration, you can either scroll down the page to see the written tutorial or watch the video at the end of the article.

To learn more about the QAT and why it’s the equivalent of having clap-on business cards, see our post on PowerPoint Best Practices, Customizing Your QAT.

Step #1: Add the Alignment Tool to Your QAT

From the Home tab, open the Arrange Tool drop down, right-click the Alignment Tool and select Add to Quick Access Toolbar.

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Step #2: Navigate to More Options

Click the downward facing arrow at the end of your QAT and select More Commands to open the More Commands dialog box.

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Step #3: Remove the Default QAT Commands

Within the dialog box, select the default commands on the right side of the dialog box and click remove until only the Align Objects command is there.

If you already have a number of commands on your QAT, you can alternatively just use the up arrow to move the Align Objects (the Alignment Tool) into the first position on your QAT.

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With the QAT in position, click OK at the bottom of the dialog box to return to the normal view of your presentation.

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Step #4: Navigate the Alignment Tool From Your Keyboard

With the Alignment Tool set, if you now select two or more objects (I’ve selected three rectangles that I want to align to the top), hit and then let go of the ALT key on your keyboard and then Hit 1…you get an alphabetical list of shortcuts for the different alignment tool options, now all conveniently accessible directly from your keyboard.

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Using these commands you can:

 Atl, 1, L – Align Left

 Alt, 1, C – Align Center

 Alt, 1, R – Align Right

 Alt, 1, T – Align Top

 Alt, 1, M – Align Middle

 Alt, 1, B – Align Bottom

 Alt, 1, H – Distribute Horizontally

 Alt, 1, V – Distribute Vertically

In my case I will hit T for Top. Hitting ‘T’ the three grey boxes I selected snap into top alignment within my layout.

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Watch the Video

So that’s how to set the Alignment Tool on your QAT for rapid fire alignments. To see my YouTube video detailing these steps, click here

About the Author:

Taylor Croonquist is a co-founder of Nuts & Bolts Speed Training, which aims to make working professionals at least 3x faster in PowerPoint. For more information, visit the Nuts and Bolts website

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