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Tutorial for

Vertical Flows 009

Boxes to Arrow

Using the Boxes and Arrow

This series is a great many-to-one flow layout to illustrate multiple objects contributing to, affecting, or becoming one object. The graphics are drawn so that there are many ways to format or size the graphic fields. The boxes are all individual fields so that they can be colored differently if you wish, and the arrow is an individual field which can receive its own sizing and formatting. The series example shows a layout with the arrow sized down. The arrow field is particularly effective when a gradient is applied. The arrow is large enough that overlaying text can be applied to describe the flow process if you wish.

There are from one to six boxes in this series. The boxes become pretty small when using seven or more boxes. It's probably better to use a horizontally oriented many-to-one flow layout for those.

The set of variations with one block can either be used as a one-to-one layout, or the many items within the block can still be used as a many-to-one layout. The reason that there are both upward- and downward-pointing layouts is because importing photographs into layouts that have been flipped in PowerPoint 2007 make the photograph appear upside down: download the correct layout for what you need to convey, and avoid flipping the layouts if you plan to import photos.

Customizing your PowerFrameworks Arrow Variations

Adjust size

Group the graphic elements and then resize or rescale (hold shift key down as you resize). If you wish to resize just the boxes or arrows, just select them and resize vertically, not horizontally - you'll lose alignment if you resize parts of the graphic horizontally. The arrow section and the boxes can be made shorter or longer as you choose.

Color variations

Select color from your document's color palette or a complimentary color so that the graphic will reflect the color scheme of the rest of your document. We suggest not using a line color, as the line will make the spacing between the boxes and the slots in the arrow too small.

PowerPoint 2007 options

These arrow variations look nice with shadows and reflections, but make sure that the shadow colors don't fill in the space between the boxes or the slots in the arrow.

3D variations

A 3D effect adds volume to the graphic, but it will fill in the space between the boxes and the slots in the arrows. If you must use 3D, make sure that the depth is very small (6 points or so). Be sure to use 3D and/or 2D consistently throughout the presentation, and make sure you have complimentary dimensions (the same depth and direction of the 3D effect) on a page for a more polished look.


Shadows in PowerPoint 2003 don't look very nice with these frameworks. They fill in the spaces between the boxes and the slots in the arrows too much and they are hard-edged.

Gradients, patterns, and pictures

Gradients and patterns can be added as fills from the "Fill Effects" menu. Gradients, when carefully used, can also add motion and dimension to the arrows. You can import pictures into the boxes if you wish, but the odd size of the arrow field makes it difficult to get a good representation of a picture when imported. If you can select a picture that will work when imported into the arrow, then import away!


Simple reveals tend to work best for the boxes. a wipe works well for the arrow. Download the animated example for an idea about how you might want to animate your slide.

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