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Concepts 110

Stylized Stairs

These stairs provide an alternative to bullets or a horizontal flow graphic. The stairs show progression as well as elevated goal. There are two variations, each with from 2 to 12 stair steps: V1 steps are individual fields, V2 steps are one field. V1 stairs can be used best with animation (see animated example). V2 stairs can receive gradients.

Customizing the stairs

Adjust size

Group the elements and then resize/rescale. To rescale, hold shift key down as you resize.

Color variations

Version 1 stairs can receive their own color and formatting, making highlighting easy to accomplish. You can also use hues of the same color to help illustrate building to completion, as in the series example. The lighter color at the bottom left suggests that it is incomplete and the darker, template color on the top right suggests completion – similar to the way gradients are used. Version 2 stairs can use the gradient method to show progression if you choose.

PowerPoint 2007 2010 options

The shadows in PowerPoint 2007 and 2010 will help you convey steps building up. If you stay away from the drop shadow (which makes the stairs look like they are laying down on the slide), and use one of the other shadows that are cast from a specific direction, the stairs look like they are standing up and more like stairs. Don't use the bevel or glow since the stairs need to suggest a staircase. Overformatting sometimes gets in the way of the message or concept.

3D variations

You can use 3D variations to show depth. Be sure to review the stair layering and adjust where necessary to get the correct look. The example below provides some format settings for 3D, but you can also create your own depth, etc.


As mentioned above. there are many shadow variations in PowerPoint 2007/2010 to help you create the illusion that the stairs are standing up on the slide instead of laying flat. Try a few and see which one works best for you.

Gradients, patterns, and pictures

A picture that has a texture or design might be nice to import into the stairs, but the stairs are so thin that a photograph with too much detail or a large subject won't translate well. Gradients are a good choice.


The Version 1 stairs can be revealed sequentially, perhaps using an ascending entrance animation. The Version 2 stairs can not be revealed sequentially, but the associated text for each stair can. This is a good choice for Version 2 stairs.

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