Let’s say you’re creating icons for some eLearning and you’d like some letter icons. You might approach this by drawing a circle and layering a text box over the top of it or by typing the letters directly onto the shapes. For some applications, this approach might be perfectly fine, but there are a few instances where you may find this approach has shortcomings.
Shortcoming 1: You want the letter to be cut out of the icon’s shape so that you can see the background through the icon. (For example, maybe you have a gradient background and you want to see that through the icon.)
Shortcoming 2: You want to resize the icon, without saving it as a picture, and have the letter resize proportionately. Here’s what it looks like if you resize this icon with standard text on it:
Shortcoming 3: You want to fine-tune edit how the letters look, perhaps down to the point level. Maybe you like your font but you wish the characters were a bit shorter and wider. Maybe, like in this example, you also want to edit one of the characters to have a long “tail” to match the diagonal design element elsewhere on the slide.
The best way to accomplish any of the above is to convert your text to shapes using PowerPoint's Fragment tool. Here’s how.
First, insert your shape.
Insert your text box with text. For this task, you’ll want to use a text box vs typing directly onto the shape.
Select your first icon’s shape, hold down the control key, and then also select the text box. From the Format Shape tab of the ribbon, find the Insert Shapes area and choose Merge Shapes > Fragment.
Each item will become its own separate shape. In the case of this example, you’ll have three pieces.
Now you can resize the icon as one shape and even edit the points of your letter to customize to your heart’s content.
AJ Walther, COTP, is IconLogic's Chief Creative Officer (CCO), a seasoned online trainer, eLearning graphic designer, and author of both "PowerPoint 2007: The Essentials" and "PowerPoint 2008 for the Macintosh: The Essentials." AJ made her own interdisciplinary studies major, focusing on writing and art.