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Tutorial for

Ribbon Flows 005, 006, 007, 008

U-Turn and S-Curve

Using U-Turn and S-Turn Ribbons

The U-turn frameworks can be used in a similar fashion as circular flows. The segments can begin and end in the same place. They can also be used as shown in the example, as a variation on a flow theme.

These U-turn flows are best when used with other frameworks/graphics/photographs at the starting point and ending point. You can put together a "story" to delivery your message.

The S-curve flow allows you to place more text into the segments. It's also a little more interesting on the page. The two turns can be as a result of an event, which you can describe in fields on the inside of the flow S curves. There isn't a lot of space for peripheral text with these frameworks – the emphasis should be on the flow itself and not descriptions for the flow segments.

The S curve also suggests a meandering, longer route rather than a straight, point-A-to-point-B route. Use icons or photographs to visually communicate the flow steps (as in the series example). The series example is also not necessarily a flow from one segment to the next; but, rather, a full representation of all the aspects of an education. Therefore, it is a nontraditional flow: the educational process is a flow but the pieces of the education happen in concert.

See the Power Chart for ''Q&A Audience Interaction Slide'' for another application of the S-Curve frameworks.

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 the U-Turn and S-Turn Ribbons

Adjust size

If you want to change the size/shape of the PowerFramework, be sure to group it and resize the entire group. 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 U-Turn or S-Curve 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.

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.

PowerPoint 2007 options

The top-left example is a red fill with white lines, which increases the space between each of the segments. The white works because of the white background: apply the line color that matches your template's background. The top-right example shows a shadow applied to a grouped flow. The shadow is neatly behind all of the segments when formatted in this manner. The bottom-left example is a shallow bevel and the bottom-right example is 3D. Both of these close up the space between the segments. If you want to use these two types of formatting, then consider using different colors for each segment – maybe the same color but hues from light to dark or dark to light. Reserve distinctly different colors as a tool in case you want to add another layer of information onto the chart.

3D variation

A 3D effect adds volume to the PowerFramework, 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." Notice that the shadow obscures the separation between segments: 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.


Animating these types of flows should be restricted to wipe, fade, appear, etc. If you choose to use a wipe, the graphic below shows how to do so to effect of the flow.

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