Create Grids of Tiled Images With SmartArt Picture Layouts

By Ellen Finkelstein

Can you imagine creating this slide in under 5 minutes?


Well you can, using SmartArt Picture Layouts.

 SmartArt Picture Layouts

Few people use or even know about the SmartArt picture layouts. They help you lay out multiple images in a preset pattern. They even crop the images for you! But you can change the cropping if you want. You can use them for:

You can probably think of more uses.

You’ll probably need to make some minor adjustments, but the final result should take less than 5 minutes.

Here are the steps:

  1. Choose your layout. I used Title Only.
  2. Choose Insert, Pictures if the photos are on your computer or Insert, Online Pictures if you have them in an online account. Mine are in Flickr which is connected to PowerPoint, so that’s where I went. I was able to search for “hand” and get a number of images showing hands.
  3. Spowerpoint-tips-grid-tiled-images-2elect the images that you want. Nine images worked well for me, but you can remove images easily. I started with 11 and then saw that they wouldn’t fit. Click Insert. The images appear on the slide, all selected.
  4. Click the Picture Tools Format tab and then choose Picture Layout. You’ll see the gallery of SmartArt Picture Layout options. You can hover over various options to see what they’ll look like. Choose one of the options that has large boxes, because these emphasize the images rather than text. Instantly, you have a grid of images, all the same size!
  5. If necessary, click the border of the SmartArt object and then resize and move it to fit on your slide.
  6. Then add the text. You can click the small arrow on the left side of the SmartArt border to open the text pane and add the text there. It’s quicker! If you aren’t using the text pane when you create SmartArt — any kind — you should try it out.

Making Adjustments

Here are 2 quick adjustments that I made. They use new shortcuts/techniques that you may not know.

  1. Some of the layouts put the text outside the image or on a solid shape, but this layout uses a semi-transparent text box. I like that, but I thought that the level of transparency was too high for good legibility.  I clicked one of the boxes, right-clicked and chose Format Shape. In the Fill section, I reduced the transparency to 35%. Then I selected the next box and pressed the F4 key (repeat). I continued in that way to change the transparency of all the boxes–it took just a few seconds.
  2. The cropping of one of the images didn’t suit me. It was a photo of a hand holding a match, but the light at the end had been cropped off. You can easily change the placement of a cropped image. I selected the image, clicked the Picture Tools Format tab, and clicked the Crop button. Then I simply dragged the image downward (press the Shift key to avoid moving diagonally) until the tip of the light was in the picture. Finally, I clicked outside the picture to end the cropping process.

    About the Author:

    Ellen Finkelstein is a PowerPoint MVP who can train you or the presenters in your organization to create high-impact, engaging, professional presentations for training, sales, business, or education. For more information visit

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