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How To: Crop Images in Powerpoint

When using PowerPoint, there are a number of techniques given to ensure your audience’s attention is exactly where you want it on the screen. One of these is to emphasise the exact part of the image on the screen to highlight that particular detail while still giving context behind it. The steps to cropping (or masking as it’s sometimes called) are simple once you know them. Here we will detail those steps.

You can click any of the pictures to see them full screen in full detail.

Step 1 – Prepare.

Start by determining your image and ensuring only the relevant parts on on the display part of the slide by bleeding the rest over the edges or using the crop tool. Here we’re going to work on Peter the Peacock and will use the second, duplicated slide.

Step 2 – Copy and paste.

Select the image and simply copy and paste it. If you’re a keyboard shortcut pro, go all Ctrl+C, Ctrl+V on it! Here you can see it pastes it offset slightly from the original image.

Step 3 – Align.

We want both the original image and the copy to sit exactly on top of each other. Often, the easiest way to do this is to align both of them to the centre (horizontal alignment) and the middle (vertical alignment) in the Picture Tools tab. If not, click and drag and they should snap together.

Step 4 – Aspect ratio.

Select the image (Powerpoint will select the one on top by default) and using the crop tool, click and drag the corners to highlight the approximate area you want emphasised. Because we’re going to make this a circle later and shapes generally look better with an even shape, we’re going to make sure it’s a perfect square. Using the crop menu, select crop to aspect ratio 1:1, which will automatically square up the highlight.

Step 5 – Shape.

I’ve decided Peter is looking too edgy and I want him to be more round. So again back into the crop tool and this time crop to shape. You can crop to any shape you see there, but I’m doing it this time and I say he’s going to be a circle!

Once you click that, the top image is now cropped to a perfect circle, right around the specific part you want to emphasise. It looks no different, but that’s just because the two images are perfectly aligned – remember Step 3?

Step 6 – Add emphasis.

From here you can edit the top, masked/cropped image to suit your needs. Here we add a quick border using our colour template. This will help separate the emphasised bit from the background. You could add any sort of border or effect you wanted. Oh, the possibilities!

Step 7 – Remove emphasis.

And lastly, you might want to remove emphasis from the background. We keep the background because it adds context, but is not the highlight of the slide. Select it and go to town with the settings do to with colour or effects. In the example below Peter has found his plumage somewhat blurred. We discuss and display a few effective options in our Presentation Skills Workshop.

These can become quite visually attractive and remove a huge deal of distraction from your presentation. These few simple steps above can get you started in making sure your image is the most relevant for your message and your audience.

As you get comfortable with the basics, I encourage you to play around with different shapes, colours, images, alignments.. PowerPoint is your oyster. Often, we learn best and find the best results by clicking wildly around and seeing what happens.

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