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Tutorial for Tools 036 – Fill-In Alphabet

These letters are not text, they are graphics. This means that you can import photographs into the letters/words and convey a more complete message, set tone, or simply make a greater impact. These word graphics can be used in any version of PowerPoint (2003, 2007, 2010), but the formatting techniques are different, which is explained below.

For the best effect, create single words or a very short string of words and choose photographs that do not have too much detail but create an overall effect. If the word is too long, then the photograph height will need to be cropped more, which may affect or confine the overall effect of the word graphic. If the photograph has too much detail (faces that may be cut into, etc.), then the word graphic will not appear fluid and/or unified. A good example of photographs that are very effective are landscapes, multiples of the same objects (like a bunch of balloons; vegetables, as in the series example; etc.).

After you have imported your photograph, don't stop there. Format for clarity and drama. "Health" in the series example wasn't as noticeably distinguishable from the background in some areas, so a line/border color of dark green was used, which made the word very distinct. The reflection formatting added the drama.

Use these word graphics to their best advantage by keeping the slides clear of other content. Let the impact of the word graphic do its job without clutter or competition from other elements on the slide.

There is only one download containing all of the characters and numbers, with an explanation point and a question mark. There is no animation example, although you can fade these word graphics onto the slide if you wish. The word graphics are impactful enough with animation. See the animation section of the tutorial: if you decided to use letter-by-letter reveals, you'll need to format the characters differently than the technique for formatting the entire word.

Customizing the vertically sliced circles

Adjust size

These letters can be sized just like any other graphic. They can be rescaled by holding the shift key down as you resize. Group the letters in the word you wish to use and resize/rescale together.

Color variations

The letters can receive any fill or line colors you choose.

PowerPoint 2007 and 2010 options

You can apply any formatting option you choose.

3D variations

If you choose to use 3D, make sure you check the layering of the letters. Based on the direction of the 3D view you select, the letters need to be layered so that they appear consistent with the view.


Shadows make the letters appear as if they are laying down on the slide. If you want them to appear as if they are standing up, use the reflection formatting (if you are using PowerPoint 2007 or 2010).

Gradients, patterns, and pictures

Here's where you'll want to pay attention. There are just a couple of things to keep in mind.

  1. If you are using PowerPoint 2007 and 2010, you can group the letters and import a photograph that has been perfectly sized to the shape of the word(s). The photograph will disperse itself to the different letters. If you do not group the letters first, each letter will receive the total photograph – which may be what you want. But for a panoramic effect like the series example, the word was grouped and the photograph spanned the letters. Step-by-step instructions are
    • Group the letters
    • Select a photograph
    • Size the photograph and/or crop it to be the exact size of the word you just grouped (use the "snap to other objects" tool in the Grid and Guides menu for perfect sizing)
    • "Cut" (Ctrl x) the photograph (it will be put into your clipboard)
    • Right-click on the shape you drew and select "Format shape…"
    • Select "Picture or texture fill" and click on "Clipboard"
    • The cropped photo is imported into the the word.
  1. If you are using PowerPoint 2003, you must use the technique for adding photographs to puzzle pieces explained in this FAQ. Each letter must be formatted individually. FAQ: How do I cut a photograph into puzzle pieces?


If you are using PowerPoint 2007 or 2010 and have imported a photograph into the grouped letters (word), you will only be able to use simple reveals, no letter-by-letter reveals. If you ungroup the letters, the photograph will change from a single, panoramic view of the photograph to each letter containing the photograph. If you really need a letter-by-letter reveal sequence, then you need to format the letters in the same manner as required in PowerPoint 2003 (see above for the instructions).

If you are using PowerPoint 2003, you can reveal each letter individually because each letter has been formatted individually.

Series that relate to this tutorial:

TO036 – Tool 036 – Fill-In Alphabet

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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