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

Monday, January 12, 2015

Sign up for the Learning Technologies Newsletter!

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
  1. 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.
  1. 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).

  1. Edit the object name.

  1. 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.

Check out similar articles: Escape PowerPoint Purgatory

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 speaks locally, regionally, and nationally about the power of visuals and presenting powerfully with presence. She is author of the TD at Work5 Questions for Great Presentation Visuals,” co-author of two Infolines on designing and delivering live virtual training, and a contributing author of three books: 101 Ways to Make Learning More Active Beyond the Classroom, 101 More Ways to Make Training Active, and SCORE! For Webinar Training: Super Closers, Openers, Revisiters, Energizers.

Wendy served on the of the ATD-Research Triangle Area Chapter’s board of directors for nine years and is a member of ATD’s global board of directors. She was a Speaker Coach and the Slide Designer for TEDxRaleigh 2016. She is a charter member of the Presentation Guild and Black Women in Business and currently serves as a board advisor for both Black Women in Business and the Business Alliance in Raleigh. She was named a 2016 Emerging Leader by Emerging Women NC for her ability to lead with compassion and integrity.

Be the first to comment
Sign In to Post a Comment
Sorry! Something went wrong on our end. Please try again later.