The use of a grid has been valuable in art and design since time immemorial. Not only do they help creators ensure alignment and spacing are correct – but they also assist designers in creating proportionality and balance. These are vital visual elements as certain ratios and proportions are more appealing to the human eye and bring a sense of harmony to audiences.

Let’s take a look at how to create grid and guidelines in PowerPoint to help designers create better aligned, more proportional, and well-balanced designs.

The first step in creating grids in PowerPoint is by getting your preferred measurement units displayed. To change the measurement units in PowerPoint, PowerPoint displays the measurement system your computer uses, so to change from inches to metric (or vice versa), you make the change in Control Panel in Windows rather than in PowerPoint.

  1. Close PowerPoint.
  2. Go to Control Panel by doing one of the following:
    • In Windows 10, click Start and type Control Panel.
    • In Windows 8, swipe in from the right edge of the screen, and then tap Search. (If you’re using a mouse, point to the upper-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer down, and then click Search.) Enter Control Panel in the search box, tap or click Apps, and then tap or click Control Panel.
  3. Select the app that has Region in its name. (The exact name varies depending on which version of Windows you’re using.) The exact options that appear are different for various versions of Windows:
    • If you’re using Windows 10, Windows 8, or Windows 7, in the Region or Clock, Language and Region dialog box, click the Change Date, Time or Number Formats tab, and then click Additional settings. Select Metric from the Measurement system list and click OK.
    • If you’re using Windows Vista or Windows XP, click the Regional Options tab, and then click Customize. On the Numbers tab, in the Measurement system list, click Metric. Apply the changes.
    • If you’re using another version of Windows, look for a Numbers option that includes a Measurements setting, and then change the value to Metric. Apply the changes.
  4. Start PowerPoint.

The ruler (and dialog boxes that show units of measure) now display measurements in the system you’ve chosen.

PowerPoint Gridlines and Snap to Grid

Gridlines help give you visual cues when you’re formatting in PowerPoint. The default horizontal and vertical gridlines make a grid 5 grids per centimetre (0.2cm). You can change the spacing between the dots that comprise each gridline from the Spacing dropdown menu.

For more control, you can create your own grid on the slide master using the Line tool on the Drawing toolbar.

  1. Open the Slide Master.
  2. Draw a line.
  3. Press CTRL + D to duplicate the line.
  4. Drag the new line to a new position.
  5. Continue until you have a grid.
  6. You can also use the Rectangle tool to create a frame around the edge of the slide so that you don’t place text or graphics too close to the edge of the slide.
  7. Select all the lines and the rectangle and group them. When you return to your presentation, you will see this grid on all your slides. Use it to help you lay out your slides.
  8. When you’re done, simply return to the slide master and delete the grid.

Turning on the ‘snap-to’ option means any elements placed on slide will automatically align to the nearest gridline – making alignment much easier while you’re designing.

  1. Select View on the ribbon, and in the Show group, select the dialogue-box launcher in the bottom right corner of the group to open the Grid and Guides dialogue box.
  2. To position shapes or objects to the closest intersection of the grid, under Snap to, check the Snap objects to grid box.
    grid, PowerPoint Grid for Perfect Layouts
  3. To see the grid on your screen, under Grid settings, check the Display grid on screen box.
  4. To show drawing guides on your screen, under Guide settings, check the Display drawing guides on screen box. Drawing guidesare a pair of dotted guidelines, one vertical and one horizontal, that intersect at the centre of the slide. When drawing guides are on, objects will snap to these lines when dragged within a threshold of a few pixels.

If you want the current settings in the Grid and Guides dialogue box to be the default settings for all presentations you open, select Set as Default.

  • Note that you can add additional guides by pressing CTRL and dragging the vertical guide to the left or right. PowerPoint displays the distance between the guides as you drag, so you can set them up evenly for up to eight guides. You can also do the same with the horizontal guide.
  • To temporarily override the snap-to options, hold down Alt while you’re dragging an object on the slide.
  • When ‘Display smart guides’ … is turned on, guides appear to aid you in aligning and spacing one object in relation to others.
  • If the Snap objects to grid box is checked, you can draw in straight lines when you draw freeform shapes.

Still can’t make PowerPoint gridlines work for you? That’s okay, we’ve got an easy shortcut for your – download our free Grid and Guide templates to start your creation process with ease.