PowerPoint Grouping Objects – Tutorial for Investment Bankers

In this lesson, you’ll get practice fixing a company profile in our pitch book by properly grouping and aligning objects to make sure that all the text and images line up correctly.

Shortcuts Introduced:

  • Alt + R + A: Align Shapes (PPT 2003 Only)
  • Alt + H + G + A: Align Shapes (PPT 2007 / 2010 / 2013)
  • Alt + R + G: Group Shapes (PPT 2003 Only)
  • Ctrl + G: Group Shapes (PPT 2007 / 2010 / 2013)
  • Alt + R + U: Ungroup Shapes (PPT 2003 Only)
  • Ctrl + Shift + G: Ungroup Shapes (PPT 2007 / 2010 / 2013)

PowerPoint Pro – Grouping & Aligning Objects Transcript

In this lesson, we’re going to get started with the next segment of our course on PowerPoint, which is how to group, align, and format objects. Now, everything we’ve been through previously, from the basics of how to manipulate text, slides, and objects, into pasting in objects from Excel, Word, and other programs into PowerPoint, all of that is useful. You’re going to use it quite a bit in investment banking.


If I had to pick one thing, one set of commands that you use the most as an investment banking analyst, or even associate, I would say it’s the commands to group, align, distribute, and format shapes and objects within PowerPoint. The reason you have to do this so much is because you do have some slides with text and bullets on them, as you see here with the “Executive Summary.” More often than not, when you’re pasting in objects from Excel, you can’t just paste in the objects as-is. You can do that, but what you often have to do is apply formatting. The way you format them, is that you have to ungroup the object into much smaller objects and then align those individually, change around the font sizes, and make all that look good.

You can see another example here. We can paste in this graph as-is, but we have to apply some further formatting, ungroup it, and manipulate the individual objects here to actually make it look good. You see that even on slides here like the “Potential Acquisition Candidates,” we’re still going to have to use some kind of alignment and distribution here because these logos are all out of place. Then, when you get to the actual company profiles, this is probably the area where you use these grouping and aligning commands the most. When you have text and a page that looks like this, you really need to do something to fix it. It’s not going to hold up very well on its own. You need to get everything into the right place.


Long story short is you will be using these commands a lot in investment banking whenever you’re creating a pitch book, or even a standard presentation to a company. Even if it’s a client company, and you’re creating a management presentation, you’re still going to be using these commands quite a lot.

To get started here, the first and most basic concept you need to know is how you can actually align objects within PowerPoint. Previously we talked about how you have these drawing guides on the screen. You have the left-hand drawing guide, the one in the center, and the one all the way on the right. Those, along with the grid, are useful because you can actually align objects to the grid, or to the drawing guides here.


Oftentimes you don’t want to do that exactly. You want to use the drawing guides as a guide, but in addition to that, you also want to align objects to one another. You can see above on the “Potential Acquisition Candidates” slide right here, this is an example where the drawing guides would not be terribly useful because in this case what we want to do is have the logos look good in the context of the other logos. Just aligning them to the drawing guide here would not really be enough to get anything done.

What we need to do instead is actually align these objects to one another. The way you do that in PowerPoint is you select the objects that you want to align. I can hold down the Shift key here and click, or I can drag and select them. In PowerPoint 2003, you go to the Draw menu, which is ‘ALT + R’, and then ‘A’ to get to Align. In PowerPoint 2007+, you press ‘ALT + H + G’, and then ‘A’ to get to the Align menu in 2007+. You see the choices here, I can go to Align Left, ‘L’. I can go back to this and go to Align Right. Align Right doesn’t really have an effect here because these are already aligned in the same width. But, if I change this back to the original state, and went to ‘ALT + G + H + A + R’ for Align Right, you see that they have now skipped over to the right.


The other possibilities here, we also have Align Top, Align Center, Align Middle, Align Bottom. The Align Center one, this is very similar to actually centering text if you go and click this. The objects are simply put in the center position. The other possibilities here, the ones listed here are for vertical alignment. If I go to Align Top, both of these text boxes are now aligned at the top. If I go to Align Middle, you get a compromise and they get taken to the middle position here. If I go to Align Bottom, they’re both lined up here at the bottom. This is very useful for actually aligning objects like this within PowerPoint, and you’ll be using it all the time as an investment banking analyst.


Beyond alignment, one of the other most important commands to use in conjunction with aligning objects is what’s called grouping. The reason you’d want to group objects is to treat multiple objects as if they’re one large object, instead of totally separate objects. To show you an example, let’s say that I want to create a left-alignment for the two text boxes that I have selected.

I go to ‘ALT + H + G + A + L’, or ‘ALT + R + A + L’ in PowerPoint 2003. I have these both left-aligned now. I could just press the ‘SHIFT’ key, and move these around like this. A better option, because this is prone to error, would be to group them together. In PowerPoint 2003, you can access this by going to the Draw menu, ‘ALT + R’, and then ‘G’ to group them. In PowerPoint 2007+, you can press ‘CTRL + G’ to group these together. Now you can see that this is now one large object that we can move around very easily.


Grouping objects together is very helpful once you have them aligned properly, and once you want to align other objects to the existing ones that you have on the screen. In this case, I’m going to move this grouped object up to the top. Once you have something in place like this, another thing you can do is actually ungroup it afterward if you want to start treating these as separate objects once again.

To Ungroup an object, in 2003 you press ‘ALT + R’ to get to the Drawing menu and then ‘U’ to Ungroup. In PowerPoint 2007+, you can press ‘CTRL + SHIFT + G’ to ungroup the objects here. Now we can see that this “Products” text box can be manipulated separately from the “Company Description” text box above. That’s how we get these text boxes into place and make sure that the text boxes actually align to each other here.


Now, I’m going to continue formatting this slide to show you further uses of Grouping, Ungrouping, and Aligning objects. You’ll see the most common ways that you actually use this in the context of investment banking presentations. First off, on the right side of the screen, I’m going to take this “Key Partners” box right here, and I’ll select the “Management Team” box. I want to right-align both these, so ‘ALT + H + G + A + R’, or ‘ALT + R + A + R’ in PowerPoint 2003. These are both right-aligned now. I’m going to move up the “Key Partners” one slightly.

We also see that our ruler is a little bit off. We had set this up before, but in some versions of PowerPoint, the ruler position is not saved properly. I’m going to readjust this. Select all the text, change it to a right-alignment at the top, and then insert a ruler near the drawing guide right here. That looks much better.


One other thing that we would ideally like to do here is to align the “Key Partners” text box with the “Products” text box. By align, I mean put the tops of both text boxes at the same position. To do that, I can press ‘ALT + H + G + A + T’ to align the tops. You see there’s slight overlap here between the “Management Team” up here and the “Key Partners” at the bottom. To fix this, I’m going to select both of them with the ‘SHIFT’ key, and click on both shapes. Press the down arrow to move them down slightly. There’s still too little space, so I’m going to press ‘SHIFT’ and click both of them, and then move them down a bit once again. We have that set up. I’m pressing ‘SHIFT’ and selecting all the objects now just to see the spacing and whether everything is really aligned properly. Everything there looks good.


Now we want to turn our attention to the left side of the page and get all these properly aligned as well. The first thing I’m going to do is go in and fix the ruler settings where they need to be fixed here. Then I’ll do the same for the “Financial Information,” drag the left ruler off the side of the screen and then insert a new right ruler here at the top. We have these in place. These are both aligned and the text boxes match up at the same tab stop here.

The next thing we want to do is make sure that everything is aligned in terms of our graph at the bottom, “Financial Information,” the “Company Information,” and then the company logo here. I’m going to select the company logo. It would be difficult to align the company logo to each of these three different text boxes or shapes. What I’m going to do instead is group everything together, and use that to properly align the logo.

The first thing I’m going to do is we can see that the graph at the bottom extends slightly beyond the left edge of the drawing guide. I’m going to take this shape, press ‘SHIFT’, and drag the diagonal at the bottom left corner up slightly so that this now fits within the area. We have that in place.


The next thing I want to do is actually group these shapes together. I’m going to press ‘CTRL + G’ in PowerPoint 2007+. In 2003 you can press ‘ALT + R + G’ to group them. Now, I want to make sure that this “ARM” logo is in the center so I’m going to go to ‘ALT + H + G + A’ for Alignment, or ‘ALT + R + A’ in 2003, and then press ‘C’ for Align Center. Now we have that in place.

Now, what I’m going to do is ungroup these shapes that I just grouped together. In PowerPoint 2003, you can just go to ‘ALT + R’, and then ‘U’ to Ungroup them. In 2007+, you can press ‘CTRL + SHIFT + G’ to ungroup them. I’m going to make the “ARM Holdings,” and “Financial Information” go down a little bit, also drag the graph down here.


One thing that would be good would be to align the “Financial Information” top here to the top of the “Products” text box. To do this, I’ll press ‘ALT + H + G + A’ for Align and then ‘T’ for Top. Then for the graph, I’m going to select both of these and then go to ‘ALT + H + G + A’ and Align Bottom right here. Now we have “Financial Information,” “Products,” and “Key Partners” all aligned at the top. I’m going to drag the “ARM Holdings” description here down a little bit. Now, to look at this entire slide, I’m going to press ‘SHIFT + F5’. We see that this looks much better.

Arguably, the graph here could be moved up a little bit. It doesn’t need to align perfectly with the bottom text box here. It might actually look a little bit better to bring it closer to this “Financial Information” box. What I can do here is just drag this up slightly, press ‘SHIFT’, hold it down, and move it up so that the horizontal position doesn’t change. Now that looks better as well. That is how you use the Group, Ungroup, and Alignment commands within PowerPoint to make your slides look much better.


Now that you’ve seen how to use these commands, what I want you to do for your exercise here is to go to the “Research in Motion” slide and apply the same tactics that we used on the “ARM” slide to make this one look much better. If your text here does not look quite right because of the ruler, you can fix the ruler as well. You can certainly fix the alignments of all these text boxes.

Make sure that the logo here is centered. Make sure that everything, at least these top areas, correspond to the top drawing guide. Give that a shot yourself now, using the key commands for Grouping, Ungrouping, and Aligning shapes. Pause this video, try it yourself. If you get stuck, you can un-pause it, and I’ll walk you through it using all the shortcuts.


OK, good. Here is what we do. First, I’d like to start with the two largest text boxes here, so “Products,” and the “Company Description.” What I’m going to do here is drag the “Products” over to the left more. I’m going to select both of these with the ‘SHIFT’ key, and click on them. Then, go to ‘ALT + H + G + A’, or ‘ALT + R + A’ in 2003, to Align Left for both of these.

We can actually group these together as well. I can press ‘CTRL + G’ in 2007+, or ‘ALT + R + G’ in 2003. I’ve grouped them together. Now, I’m going to press ‘SHIFT’ and drag them up to the top left corner of these two drawing guides right here. Now, I can ungroup these with ‘CTRL + SHIFT + G’, or ‘ALT + R + U’ in 2003. Those are in place.


Now, for the “Key Partners,” and for the “Management Team” over here, what I want to do is right-align both of these. I’ll go to ‘ALT + H + G + A + R’ to Align Right. I want to make the “Key Partners” and the “Products” text box line up here at the top, so I’ll press ‘ALT + H + G + A + T’ to align the tops of both of those. We could use a bit more space here between “Key Partners” and “Management Team,” so I’ll select both of these with the ‘SHIFT’ key and click on them, and drag them down slightly.

For the “Management Team,” I want to fix the alignment here. I’m going to change the ruler at the top to right-aligned, and then insert a tab stop right here and drag it to the right-hand side. We have that in place.


The next thing I want to do is address the left side of this slide now. The graph here at the bottom of the “Price Volume” chart looks fine, we don’t need to resize that. I can press ‘SHIFT’ and move this down slightly. For “Financial Information,” we want to fix the alignment again. I’m going to take the right ruler at the top and move it over more. For the “Company Description,” we’re going to do the same thing, simply drag the left ruler off the side of the screen, and then insert a right ruler at the top, and drag it all the way over. We have that.

The next thing I’d like to do here is to group together these two text boxes, and the graph here on the left side. I’m going to press ‘CTRL + G’ to group them together, or ‘ALT + R + G’ in 2003. Then, I want to make sure this logo is in the center of all these. I’m going to press ‘ALT + H + G + A’ for Align, and then go to Center right here. Now I can ungroup these because I want to manipulate them individually.

To ungroup them, ‘CTRL + SHIFT + G’, or ‘ALT + R + U’ in 2003. I’m going to move “Financial Information,” and “Research in Motion” down a little bit here. For the “RIM” logo, I’m going to use the arrow keys to move this down. We see it now, it’s the top of the drawing guide right here. It’s not exactly aligned with the text box, so I’m going to move it down a bit more. Now, I’m going to go to Align Top, so ‘ALT + H + G + A + T’. Now those are aligned.


Then, we want to make “Financial Information” line up with “Products,” and “Key Partners.” ‘ALT + H + G + A + T’ for Align Top. Then I’m going to move “Research in Motion” basic information here up a little bit. I can also move the graph here at the bottom up a little bit. I’m just going to use the arrow keys here to move it up. We have that in place. I’m going to press ‘SHIFT + F5’ now. We can see that this looks much better, similar to the previous slide. Everything is now properly aligned here, the logos are centered, and everything is centered. Overall it looks much better than we had before.

This may seem simple, these commands and everything we just did. You’re going to be doing this a lot in PowerPoint presentations in investment banking. I would strongly encourage you to get to know these Group and Align commands, and Ungroup commands, very, very well because you’re going to be using them so frequently.


Coming up in the next lesson, we’re going to be taking a look at a related set of commands, which is how to distribute shapes. We’ve been over how to align and group shapes, and ungroup them. Another thing we like to do is rather than just centering them for example, we like to actually distribute shapes.

If we have a lot of logos on one slide, instead of trying to manually determine the space in between each of the logos, we can actually have PowerPoint automatically determine how much space should go between each logo, and then position everything. You’ll be learning exactly how to do that in the next lesson in this course.

For more tutorials on PowerPoint Pro click here.

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