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Tutorial for Ribbon Flows 013, 014, 025, and 026

Using Figure 8s

The figure 8 on its side is a symbol for infinity, but when segmented it can illustrate a conceptual message as well. The series example depicts a virtuous cycle comprised of two separate but connected sets of activities. These graphics are not easily drawn in PowerPoint – and they're not easily drawn in other graphics programs because of the overlap – but they are useful in vividly illustrating cycles around two pivot points or a single cycle that capitalizes on the "infinity" message. Although the two parts overlap, some of the variations may be used to illustrate an intersection.

Because of the overlap, the continuous, 1-segment, and 2-segment variations are not drawn as only one field. The segment fills and lines are comprised of several fields. The segments in the 3- through 12-segment variations are all drawn as separate and individual segments comprised of only 1 field.

The squared figure 8 series (RB025 and RB026) are good to use in two circumstances:

  1. When you need a little extra room in the center of the loops for text
  2. To stay stylistically consistent when you have used rounded-edge squares in the rest of your presentation.

Once you have identified the best-suited PowerFramework, download it to a specific location on your computer so you'll be able to find it (the desktop is always a good choice).

Customizing Figure 8s

Adjust size

If you want to change the size/shape of a figure 8, be sure to group it and resize the entire group. Hold the shift key down as you resize so that the group will scale. Once resized, ungroup to proceed with other customizations. You can also adjust the space between the pieces.

Color variations

Select color from your document's color palette or a complimentary color so that the figure 8 will reflect the color scheme of the rest of your document. Select "No line" if you want to eliminate the outline of the object, or change the line point size if you want thinner or heaver lines. Flows tend to look more distinct when a fill color is used without a line color. A line that matches your template's background will appear to increase the distance between the segments. The continuous, 1-segment, and one of the 2-segment variations should only be used with line color, however, since the segments are comprised of several fields.

Color has significant impact on whether overlaying text is readable. Since some of the segments are vertical, it's impossible to place the text completely within the segment. Therefore, the overlaying text needs to be positioned well and readable. Notice the overlaying text in the graphic below: both the light and dark background examples are still readable. That's because the white background and the flow are both light and the text is dark. The dark background and the dark flow provide contrast to white text. In both cases the text pops. This example is for the U-Turn series, but it applies to the figure 8 as well.

PowerPoint 2007 options

All of the enhanced formatting options work with the figure 8s except the soft edges. The shadows work well because they lift the graphic off the slide and enhance the overlap aspect of the graphics. Be careful, however, when you add shadows that the separations between the segments are not obscured.

3D variation

A 3D effect adds volume to the Figure 8, which can be accomplished within PowerPoint after it is imported. Use shallow depth, like 6 points, so the shadow portion of the framework does not overpower the front, where the text will be. Be aware that applying 3D changes the color of the object and gives a shading effect as well. A way to control the color of the segments in 3D is to apply a two-color gradient with both colors the same. The color will then be true to your palette. The layer order is important when working with 3D objects. After you apply 3D, reorder the individual objects if necessary by sending to back or bringing to front, etc. The order will depend on the direction of the 3D.


A shadow adds interest and dimension to a graphic, which can be accomplished within PowerPoint after the PowerFramework has been imported. If you want to place text above or below the flow segments and the shadows are in the way, adjust/mute the colors/shades of the shadows so the text will "pop." The shadow often obscures the separation between segments, so some of the crispness is lost.

Gradients, patterns, and pictures

Gradients, patterns, and pictures can be added as fills from the "Fill Effects" menu. Gradients, when carefully used, can also add motion to these types of flows. The graphic below shows how to use gradients to help underscore direction of flow.

It is sometimes a tedious and time-consuming process to add gradients in this manner when there are a lot of segments that need to be individually formatted. Make sure you have the time to apply this feature.


Animating these types of flows should be restricted to fade and appear, etc. Wipes are not always feasible, as many segments start in one direction and end in another direction. Be careful if you add wipes.

The downloadable animated example uses fast fades to introduce each step in the figure 8.

If you are going to animate as reveals the 1- and 2-segment variations, make sure you group what you can and select the fields that make up the full segments and animate to appear together.

Series that relate to this tutorial:

RB013 – Ribbon Flow 013 – Figure 8

Possible use example

RB014 – Ribbon Flow 014 – Figure 8 with wings

Possible use example

RB025 – Ribbon Flow 025 – Squared Figure 8

Possible use example

RB026 – Ribbon Flow 026 – Squared Figure 8

Possible use example

Links to instructions for getting the framework into your presentation

  1. Determine the best file type for your needs
  2. Download the file
  3. Import the framework into your presentation
    1. Importing a PPT file
    2. Importing a EMF or PNG
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