Why do shapes sometimes jump further than you want when moving them with the arrow key? What is the PowerPoint Grid? How are they connected?

Let’s start with the PowerPoint Grid. Using a PowerPoint Grid can be a great tool for slide layout and design. To turn it on/off go to VIEW > SHOW > GRIDLINES check box. Once it’s checked, you’ll see a dotted line grid like this:

PowerPoint Grid-1

There are some options, such as the grid spacing, and another way to turn on/off. Open the GRID AND GUIDES dialog by going to VIEW > SHOW > click the Options box:


The GRID AND GUIDES dialog has several options for guides, snapping, and grids:


1- DISPLAY GRID ON SCREEN is the same as the above VIEW > SHOW > GRIDLINES. Both turn on/off the gridlines.

2- The spacing, or size of the grid, can be changed here. (Note: The grid spacing is used for the document, so you cannot have a different PowerPoint Grid mixed into a single presentation file.)

3- SNAP OBJECTS TO GRID is what enables objects (shapes, photos, lines, etc.) to “jump” to a location when you are moving them. They are “jumping” to the next gridline. (Note 1: The grid does not need to be visible/on for this to be active. Note 2: I personally do not like objects jumping to locations, so Snap to Grid is turned off on my design computer.)

4- DISPLAY DRAWING GUIDES ON SCREEN can also be accessed a few ways, including as a button on my custom QAT (Note: I use guides in my design process much more than grids).

5- DISPLAY SMART GUIDES WHEN SHAPES ARE ALIGNED is a love-it or hate-it feature (I am in between and turn this on/off as the design needs). It is like SNAP TO GRID, but instead objects snap into alignment with other objects.

Back to our original question, why do objects “jump” further than you want when moving with a mouse? The answer is NUDGING, or moving an object with the arrow key, is directly connected to SNAP OBJECTS TO GRID. If my goal is to move the blue box to the right and touch the next grid line, the number of arrow nudges is going to depend on whether the Snap to Grid is on or off.
Example 1 – Snap to Grid = OFF
– With Snap to Grid turned off, I have complete control moving an object, each arrow nudge is 1 pixel. In this example, I would need to arrow/nudge 10 times to move the blue box to touch the next grid line (the blue box is 10 pixels away from the grid line).
Example 2 – Snap to Grid = ON
– With Snap to Grid turned on, I have less control moving an object, each arrow nudge jumps to the next grid point. In this example, the next grid point is the next grid line, so 1 arrow/nudge jumps the blue box to touch the next grid line, which may be good or bad (or frustrating).
Here is a close up of the grid points. With this 1/10″ grid, there are 10 points in any direction, and an object will nudge at the most 10 clicks to move across the grid (but the grid in this example is actually 300 pixels wide/tall).
TIP: There is a great hidden feature to override SNAP TO GRID, actually temporarily switch its ON/OFF so nudging does the opposite, use CONTROL key + Arrow key (in any direction)

Summary (thanks MS Blair for sending out this simplified grid! [which I modified]):


-Troy @ TLC