Toolbox Tip: Use PowerPoint’s Selection Pane to Organize Objects on a Slide

Monday, January 12, 2015

One of my favorite PowerPoint discoveries is the Selection Pane. It’s a handy little tool to organize and manage the objects on a slide, such as images, shapes, and textboxes. I use it in two ways, mostly when working with slides that have multiple objects: 

  1. to de-clutter a slide by hiding some objects as I work with others
  2. to name objects so they’re easy to identify. 

Hiding Objects on a Slide

Hiding objects gets them out of the way without deleting them. I use the Selection Pane when I’m working on a slide with multiple objects or groups of objects and I want to work with them one at a time. For example, the slide below has three groups of objects: each group contains an image (1, 2, or 3 fingers) and a textbox. When they’re all showing, the slide is really messy.


I followed these steps to hide two of the three groups so they don’t interfere as I work with the first group:

  1. Show the Selection Pane.
    • On the Home tab in the Editing group, show the Select dropdown menu.
    • Choose Selection Pane.
    • The Selection Pane appears on the right side with a list of all objects on the slide.
  2. In the Selection Pane, toggle the object’s visibility.
    • Select the object.
    • Click the “eye” icon to hide the object (see image below). 


Naming Objects on a Slide

When you insert an object on a slide, PowerPoint names it using the object type and a number (for example, Textbox 4). I rename objects on a slide when I have multiples of an object and I want to animate them.


The slide below has three groups, one for each tip, but it’s hard to tell which group is Tip #1. Renaming the groups will make it easy to identify them.



I followed these steps to rename the groups:

  1. In the Selection Pane, click twice on an object name to make the field editable (note: this is NOT a double-click. Click slowly).

  2. Edit the object name.

  3. Click outside the name field. The new object name appears (see image below).

Here’s what renamed objects look like in the Animation Pane. 


Tips for Working with the Selection Pane

  • Be sure to show all objects again when you’re done working on a slide. Objects that are hidden will not appear in Slide Show mode.
  • You don’t have to name every object on a slide. For example, I didn’t need to rename the slide footer or the textbox used for the image credits.
About the Author

Wendy Gates Corbett, CPLP, is the president of Refresher Training, a company that redesigns presentations and materials for independent consultants and small businesses. She has 20 years of experience in training, including running several profitable multimillion-dollar training businesses and more than 16 years designing and delivering face-to-face, blended, and virtual training programs. She is the co-author of two ATD Infolines on designing for and delivering in the virtual classroom. She’s an expert instructional designer passionate about developing high-impact training materials and compelling PowerPoint presentations that engage the learner and heighten learning. She served on the board of her local ATD chapter in North Carolina for nine years and currently serves on ATD’s National Advisors for Chapters team. She has a B.S. in psychology from Guilford College and a M.S. in applied psychology from the University of Baltimore.

Connect with her on Twitter @RefreshTraining

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