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Expandable Puzzles

Using Puzzles

These frameworks can be used to illustrate pieces of a whole. Puzzles also imply interdependence. They can be used as an alternative to a pie chart in some instances. Use these frameworks with others or alone. The size of the segments are designed to hold the maximum amount of text or content. Use them as a finished puzzle or as pieces (just move the pieces out of their position to give the appearance of random piece layout by simply deconstructing the puzzle and scattering the pieces.

These series offer expansion possibilities for puzzles. If you need very large puzzle boards or unlimited pieces, these series are the correct choice. The puzzle pieces have been drawn so that rows and columns can be added, creating unlimited possibilities.

Another idea is to string a horizontal line of puzzle pieces and use them to show adding or building interconnected pieces in sequence. Horizontal flows are typically used for this, but the string of puzzle pieces sends a distinct message.

Customizing the Puzzles

Adjust size

Sizing a finished puzzle configuration: If you want to change the size/shape of the PowerFramework, be sure to hold the shift key down while sizing so that the puzzles stay uniform and scale correctly. If you are using more than one framework in these series, import them all and then size them all at once. This way they stay uniformly sized and shaped from page to page.

Creating an expanded puzzle configuration: Expanding the size of a puzzle involves adding columns of pieces or rows of pieces or both. Basically, there are only two types of rows and columns. They piece together as follows.

Increasing puzzle rows and columns

If you want to create a puzzle larger than one of the downloadable frameworks, you can easily do so. It is important to understand how the puzzles are put together to properly do so, however. The patterns on the puzzles repeat every other row and column as shown on the left.

Because of this, it is important to make sure that you have the correct side/corner pieces for the puzzle you are expanding. Pick a puzzle that has the same combination of even/odd rows/columns – for example:
• Even columns and even rows (example: 6x6)
• Even columns and odd rows (example: 6x5)
• Odd columns and odd rows (example: 5x5)
• Odd columns and even rows (example: 5x6)

So if you want to have a puzzle that is 12x9, you could use
• Even columns and odd rows (example: 6x5)

This would give you all the correct sides and corners. You would then increase the columns by increments of 2; so, in this case, you would add 6 columns – 6 existing + 6 new = 12 columns.

Then you would add 4 rows: 5 existing + 4 new = 9 rows.

If you don't need side/corner pieces, it's easier. Just start with a puzzle that is close to what you want, delete all the side/corner pieces, and then duplicate in groups of two, deleting and adding pieces as needed.

Color variations

Select color from your document's color palette or a complimentary color so that the puzzles will reflect the color scheme of the rest of your document. Do not eliminate the lines unless the pieces are different colors.

The PowerPoint downloads for the puzzles do not have line colors because each piece is a different color and the distinction between pieces is, therefore, easy to see. If you use one color for all of the pieces, apply a line color so the pieces become distinct.

PowerPoint 2007 options

The bevels create an effect much like real puzzles. The bevels add volume to the puzzle pieces without a layering problem. This is the best option for these frameworks.

Click here to go to the FAQ that explains a good bevel format for your puzzle pieces.

3D variations

3D can work if the depth is very small. Use 3D in pre-PowerPoint 2007 only. Apply bevels (which is a type of 3D) in PowerPoint 2007.


Shadows don't work with these frameworks, unless you're using PowerPoint 2007 and apply the drop shadow to the puzzle as a group. Applying shadows to individual pieces make layering an issue: shadows from one piece can overlay the piece right next to it – not good.

Gradients, patterns, and pictures

Gradients can be used to create a distinction between the pieces. The lines can then be eliminated. Pictures can be used as a fill. Just be sure that the dimensions of the picture are roughly the dimension of the puzzle piece that will contain it.

There are techniques in both PowerPoint 2007 and pre-PowerPoint 2007 versions to cut a photograph into individual puzzle pieces.

Click here to go to the FAQ that explains cutting photographs into puzzle pieces.


Animations should be selected that will enhance the meaning of the message, not merely to add interest to the slide. With these frameworks, however, you can get a little creative. Pieces come come in from "out of the blue," can grow into existence, etc.

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