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Relationships 058

Alignments, Forced Splits, and Fractures

Using Alignments, Forced Splits, and Fractures

This series contains frameworks to illustrate three basic themes: alignments – or lack of alignments, forces that split a whole, and fractures that split a whole.

  • The alignments frameworks are split by a diagonal division. The diagonal division conveys a split like a vertical division cannot. Vertical divisions are too common and are not interpreted as having any meaning. There are some frameworks within the alignments that are misaligned. Again, these tell a story that boxes or fields with misaligned vertical splits cannot tell; they simply look like someone was sloppy when they put the slide together. These alignments frameworks are a nice addition to the library. Alignments are difficult to convey, but there are many instances where they can be used.
  • The forces are uniform, lightening-bolt-type frameworks that signify a deliberate effort or controlled action. The forces can be used to illustrate the effect of an action that was taken to separate or disconnect parts of a whole, making them separate entities.
  • The fracture is a random, uncontrolled split, implying that something unexpected has happened to split a whole into pieces. The series example illustrates a fracture. Notice that two objects were split by the same fracture. This is significant, as many times one unexpected action can have effects on several associated but unconnected entities.

These frameworks are simple to use and effective at graphically delivering these three messages.

Customizing the Alignments, Forced Splits, and Fractures

Adjust size

If you want to change the size/shape of the PowerFramework, be sure to hold the shift key down while sizing so the framework stays uniform and scales 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 are consistently sized within the document.

Color variations

Select color from your document's color palette or a complimentary color so that the PowerFramework 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.

PowerPoint 2007 options

The bevels work really well and so do the shadows. Both of the examples above are done in PowerPoint 2007 – they have volume and are polished.

3D variations

Use 3D with the alignment and forced splits sets. They will look nice. 3D with the fractures diminish the message. A fracture lightening bolt happens quickly by force. 3D applied to a force makes it look too sluggish and stationary.


Unless you're using PowerPoint 2007, shadows don't add much to the visual appeal for these frameworks. But if you want to use them, be conservative and apply shadows that are cast closely to the objects.

Gradients, patterns, and pictures

Gradients can add interest and emphasis to these frameworks. If you use gradients, sometimes it is best to eliminate the line (select "no line"). Pictures can certainly be used with these frameworks (see the example above). Adding pictures to these shapes is very easy in PowerPoint 2007, and less easy in pre-PowerPoint 2007 versions. Importing photographic could be one of the best treatments for these frameworks. Just be sure to select and crop photographs that will separate gracefully at the split point.

Learning how to import photographs in PowerPoint 2007 is a worthwhile effort. It is very easy.

  1. Select a photograph
  2. Size it and/or crop it to be the exact size of the whole, nonsplit rectangle
  3. Duplicate the photograph
  4. Crop one photograph so that it is the same horizontal width as the left-hand split section. Do the same with the second photograph for the right-hand split section
  5. Copy the cropped photograph (it will be put into your clipboard) that you'd like to have in the left-hand split section
  6. Right-click on the left-hand split section and select "Format shape…"
  7. Select "Picture or texture fill" and click on "Clipboard"
  8. Admire the results.


Animations should be selected that will enhance the meaning of the message, not merely to add interest to the slide. If you want to illustrate the "whole" before it is split or fractured, simply draw a rectangle and size it to match the fractured segment(s). Then reveal the fractured rectangle over the whole rectangle (and exit the whole rectangle). To add separation emphasis, animate to move the separated section away from the split point (see the downloadable animated example).

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