PowerPoint 2016: SmartArt Graphics

What is SmartArt?

SmartArt in PowerPoint allows users to communicate information visually using graphics and diagrams instead of just text. SmartArt makes it easy to create professional-looking visuals by providing pre-designed layouts and styles that you can customize to fit your content.

Some key things to know about SmartArt:

  • It offers many types of diagrams like lists, processes, cycles, hierarchies, relationships, matrices, pyramids, and more
  • The layouts come with placeholder text and images that you can replace with your own content
  • It automatically adjusts the size, position, and arrangement of shapes as you add or remove content
  • You can fully customize colors, styles, effects, dimensions, etc. to fit your branding

Benefits of Using SmartArt

Here are some of the main benefits of using SmartArt graphics:

  • Communicate complex information visually – Simplify complex processes, structures, relationships into easy-to-understand graphics
  • Create diagrams quickly – Starting with a pre-designed layout saves a ton of time vs. drawing shapes and lines manually
  • Add visual interest – Make presentations more visually compelling and memorable
  • Emphasize key points – Use graphics to draw attention to important ideas and data
  • Reinforce understanding – Combining text and visuals caters learning styles and improves comprehension

Inserting a SmartArt Graphic

Follow these simple steps to insert a SmartArt graphic into your PowerPoint slide:

  1. Go to the Insert tab
  2. Click the SmartArt icon in the Illustrations group
  3. Select the type of graphic you want from the left panel
  4. Pick a specific layout from the center panel
  5. Click OK to insert it into your slide

The graphic will be inserted with placeholder text that you can now replace with your own content.

Customizing and Formatting SmartArt

The real power of SmartArt comes from customizing it to fit your specific needs. With just a few clicks, you can:

  • Change the layout
  • Add/delete shapes
  • Modify hierarchy
  • Apply colors
  • Add styles and effects
  • Resize, rotate, layer shapes
  • Add text, images, icons inside shapes

When you select a SmartArt graphic, a SmartArt Tools tab appears with dedicated Design and Format tabs for easy customization.

Some popular customizations include:

  • Changing layouts – To better fit new information or ideas
  • Reordering shapes – Drag-and-drop shapes to rearrange structures
  • Applying styles – Pre-designed combinations of colors, effects
  • Inserting images – Replace placeholders or shape fills

Types of SmartArt Graphics

There are many types of diagrams and charts you can create with SmartArt. Here are some popular ones:

Process diagrams: visualize sequential steps and flow

  • Basic Flowchart
  • Picture Accent Process
  • Continuous Block Process

Hierarchy diagrams: show organizational structures, relationships

  • Organization Chart
  • Name and Title Organization Chart
  • Pyramid diagram

Relationship diagrams: illustrate connections, comparisons

  • Basic Venn diagram
  • Target diagram
  • Interconnected diagram

Matrix diagrams: segmented into quadrants or phases

  • Basic matrix
  • Titled matrix
  • Grid matrix

List diagrams: organize bullet points visually

  • Vertical Bullet List
  • Horizontal Bullet List
  • Picture Accent List

Tips for Using SmartArt Effectively

Here are some tips to use SmartArt successfully:

  • Keep it simple – Avoid complex graphics with too much text
  • Limit text – Convey key ideas visually, don’t replace text with graphics
  • Use judiciously – Augment text/data with graphics, don’t go overboard
  • Keep consistent – Maintain cohesive visual style for professional look
  • Review accessibility – Add alt text, check contrast for inclusivity


SmartArt empowers anyone to create professional-looking, on-brand graphics and diagrams in PowerPoint quickly and easily. Start with the many pre-designed layouts, customize it to fit your needs, and take your visual communication to the next level.

With a bit of creativity, you can come up with some truly impressive graphics that not only get your point across beautifully but also leave a lasting impression on your audience.