CPS100 • Introduction to Computers

Lakeland College • Japan Campus

Layers in PowerPoint

In PowerPoint, every object is on a layer. Imagine, for example, that you want to make a picture of a lion attacking a man using a cell phone. You have a photo of a natural background; you have a photo of a lion; and you have a photo of a man with a cell phone. The lion and the man are each on clear plastic sheets. You lay the sheet with the lion on top of the background, and then the sheet with the man on top of the lion's. The result may look like this:

Notice that the man appears "in front of" the lion, and the lion "in front of" the background. This is how many traditionally animated cartoons are made--using clear plastic "cels" which can move over a static background.

PowerPoint works the same way: each object--a shape, a photo, a clip art, a table, a chart--has a "layer." Each layer is "above" or "below" other layers. Two objects are never on the same layer--even when grouped together.


To test this, let's create some shapes and see how layers work.

First, create a new PowerPoint presentation, and change the Layout of the slide to Blank.

Next, create a LARGE rectangle shape, so that it almost meets the left and right sides of the slide, but you leave some empty space at top and bottom; imitate this:

Next, create an oval shape at the top left of the slide, and change its fill color, like this:

With the circle selected, COPY the shape once (Ctrl + C), and then PASTE the shape several times (Ctrl + V); you will see the extra shapes falling slightly down and to the right of the original shape. STOP before you reach the bottom of the slide. It should look like this:

Now, click on the large rectangle so it is selected. Then, go to the Quick Access Toolbar. Back in Chapter One of this unit, I showed you how to add several buttons to the toolbar. Hopefully, you added the four I suggested in Chapter 1 of this Unit. If you did, those four should now be in your toolbar. (If not, then you can find the same buttons in the Ribbon, in the "Home" tab, in the "Drawing" group, under the "Arrange" button.) I want you to use the one (probably on the left of the four new ones in your toolbar) which is called, "Bring Forward":

If you click on that, you will see the rectangle appear to "rise" above the top circle. Keep clicking that "Bring Forward" button many times, and you will see the rectangle continue to "move up." You can also click the other buttons, especially "Send Backward." At times, the slide may look like this:

In this way, you can get a better sense of what the layers are and how they work.

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