How to create icons with PowerPoint

In the recent years, icons have become an essential part of the visual language used by almost every organization in the world. People are exposed to dozens of brands every day and have little time to pay attention to boring communication attempts. On the other hand, icons allow more efficient communication by conveying a message that can be understood immediately. On top of the explicit message they support, icons talk to the subconscious mind. For instance, when people see an icon of hands shaking, it somehow leads them to believe that the brand is trustworthy.


Little wonder then, why most people creating PowerPoint presentations now use icons to support their messages. There exist some tools that provide icons directly into PowerPoint, such as the Power-user add-in for PowerPoint & Excel, which gives access to over 1,000 icons. But did you know that you can also create your own icons with PowerPoint? It is actually pretty easy. The basic idea for creating icons is to combine multiple basic shapes.


Let’s work with an example. We are going to create a calendar icon together. Look at the icon below.




The first step is to mentally decompose your icon into basic shapes. The calendar icon above can be seen as a combination of different basic shapes: a blue rectangle with a white rectangle in it, a text for the date and two little rectangles.




Now in PowerPoint, go to the Insert tab and insert those basic shapes:

  • 1 “rounded rectangle”
  • 1 “round same size corner rectangle”
  • 2 “rounded rectangles”
  • A text box where you write the number “31”

Place the “round same size corner rectangle” on “rounded rectangle”, like this.


Then select both rectangles, starting with the bigger one. Go to the Format tab, and in the “Merge Shapes” menu click “Subtract”, as shown below.




Note: if you are using PowerPoint 2010, the “Merge Shapes” menu is not available by default. You will need to add it to the ribbon with the Quick Access Toolbar (look at these PowerPoint tips to see how to proceed).


The “Subtract” button will convert your two shapes into a single one, by subtracting the second shape you selected to the first one. You now have a new shape that should look like this:




Add the text box with the “31” number in the middle, and the two little rectangles with a white outline on top, and you now have created yourself a great calendar icon!




You are now ready to build your own icons. You can use the “Merge Shapes” feature of PowerPoint in different ways. We have used the Subtract button, but you can as well need to use “Intersect” to take just the intersection of both shapes or create a Union to take the entire surface covered by both shapes.


Creating your own icons gives you the possibility to match your exact need, create icons that are customized for your activity, and build a consistent visual language to support your communication efforts.





“Olivier de Saint Louvent is the CEO of Power-user, a leading PowerPoint and Excel add-in with an impressive number of features. His experience with Office optimization comes from the years he worked in strategy consulting and finance.”




You’ll find loads more tips and tricks like these ones in our Microsoft PowerPoint course, which will help you become an expert presenter in no time.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]