How To Add Drop Shadows in PowerPoint Presentations

Shadow effects are a common resource in graphic design to make an element stand out from a layout, but how to properly do it? This tutorial will explain how to create a drop shadow effect in PowerPoint to power up your designs like a professional.

cover for how to add drop shadows in PowerPoint presentation

Some considerations when applying drop shadow effects

The main aspect when working with shadow effects is not overdoing it. With this, we imply the following things:

  • Don’t abuse the distance of the shadow – as lengthy shadows are not natural for these effects.
  • Don’t increase the opacity for the shadow unless strictly needed.
  • Take a look at which direction light comes to the object. That’s the key point to making shadows look natural.
  • Too blurry shadows don’t go along with presentations since it distracts the user.

Always opt for subtle shadow effects since the idea is to make the object in question noticeable, not the shadow itself.

Step-by-Step tutorial for adding drop shadows in PowerPoint

For this guide, we’re going to open a blank PowerPoint presentation.

start point for how to create drop shadow effect in PowerPoint
A blank PowerPoint slide to start

Remove the title and subtitle sections since they are not needed. Then, we drag and drop the clipart element that we want to apply drop shadow in PowerPoint.

inserted clipart in a PowerPoint slide
Inserting a clipart

As you can see, multiple options are available in the Picture Format tab from PowerPoint’s ribbon. What we are going to use now is the Picture Effects option, and locate Shadows. The selected option, in this case, is Offset Bottom Right to cast a shadow from behind the object in the right direction.

different shadow options in the Picture Effects menu
A list of the different shadow options in the Picture Effects menu

There are multiple options to pick from; that entirely depends on the kind of effect you wish to apply to your design. After selecting the shadow, the clipart should look like this.

clipart with drop shadow effect in PowerPoint
Our clipart with a shadow effect applied

Subtle but realistic. Since we can customize the options for this shadow effect, it’s best to familiarize ourselves with the Shadow Options panel. You can access it at the bottom section of the Shadow menu.

Accessing the Shadow Options panel in PowerPoint
Accessing the Shadow Options panel in PowerPoint

A new menu opens on the right side. In there, you can find multiple options for tweaking the shadow effect to your liking: color, transparency (opacity), size, blur, angle, and distance.

Shadow Options menu open in PowerPoint
The Shadow Options menu is now open

For instance, by altering the size value, we’re making the shadow effect go behind the figure more noticeably, so much it overlaps with parts of our design, as seen below.

overdoing size shadow values in PowerPoint
Size Shadow values over 100%

This config obviously looks fake, but so does altering the slide in the opposite direction, and lowering the value by 100%.

decreasing size shadow values in PowerPoint
Size Shadow values less than 100%

By lowering from 100%, the shadow is cast behind the clipart figure but looks overly worked, non-natural. Instead, we’re going to stick with a value of Size in 100%, but alter the Distance slider value to make the shadow effect a tiny tad bigger.

Final result of adding drop shadows in PowerPoint
Altering the Distance slider

And that’s the final result. Feel free to practice these steps until you feel comfortable with the drop shadows effect in PowerPoint. Changing color can be suitable for certain designs, although it’s best to stick with the default color value in most situations.

PowerPoint Tips, Presentation Skills, Presentation Tips
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