How to Draw Freehand in PowerPoint

Adjust a slideshow for added effect using the drawing and inking tools

PowerPoint has been used as the ultimate slideshow creator for many years. It's easy to use and includes many unique tools for customizing your slideshows, including the various drawing tools. Once you know how to draw in PowerPoint using those tools, it's easy to add emphasis to an image, much-needed flair to your presentations.

The instructions in this article apply to PowerPoint 2019 and 2016, as well as PowerPoint for Microsoft 365.

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PowerPoint Drawing Tools & Inking Tools

Inside PowerPoint, you'll find several different tools, including the classic drawing tools and improved inking tools. Some of the most commonly used include:

  • Shapes: Located in the toolbar, this is the traditional tool that allows you to choose from different shapes or draw your own using lines.
  • Pen tools: Use many different pen types to create your own custom, freehand shapes.
  • Ink to text: Use Ink to Text to turn your written word into text within your PowerPoint presentation.
  • Ink to shape: Draw shapes, then turn them into text shapes using this tool.

Each of these tools come in handy for different purposes as you create your slideshow.

To use the Pen tool and Inking tools, you'll need to have a touch-enabled device like a tablet or smartphone. You can use either a smart pen or your finger on these devices.

How to Draw a Traditional Shape in PowerPoint

Drawing a shape or line in PowerPoint is simple in this traditional method. To get started, open your PowerPoint presentation.

Drawing a Shape Using the Freeform Tool

  1. Select Insert > Shapes.

    Using Shapes tool to draw a custom shape in Powerpoint
  2. To draw a freeform shape, select the Freeform icon.

    Using the Freeform shape tool to draw a freeform shape in Powerpoint
  3. Draw a shape by moving your cursor around the screen, selecting where you want your points. You can also hold your mouse or finger down to scribble.

    Drawing a custom shape using the Freeform tool in Powerpoint
  4. Once you're ready, complete your shape by connecting the last point to the beginning point. PowerPoint will automatically fill the shape and bring up the Format section in the ribbon.

    Finished custom shape using Freeform tool in Powerpoint

Draw a Shape Using the Scribble Tool

  1. Select Insert > Shapes.

    Using Shapes tool to draw a custom shape in Powerpoint
  2. To draw a scribbled shape, select the Scribble icon.

    Using the Scribble tool to draw scribbled shapes in Powerpoint
  3. Hold down your mouse or trackpad to draw a scribble in your PowerPoint slide. The ends don't have to connect. Once completed, the Format section will appear. Use this section to change the design of your shape.

    Drawing a shape in Powerpoint using the Scribble tool

Draw Freehand Shapes Using PowerPoint 2019 and 365's Pen Tool

PowerPoint now allows users with touch-enabled devices to use tools such as the Pen tool to create custom shapes, text and more. To get started, open a new or existing presentation.

  1. Select Draw from the ribbon. Here, you'll see a wide range of pen options, including pencil, highlighter, and marker.

    Using the Draw tool to draw shapes in Powerpoint
  2. Select a pen from the available tools. You can also select the pen again to see available formatting options such as color, style, and line thickness.

    Pen formatting options inside the Pen tool in Powerpoint
  3. Start drawing inside your presentation using your finger or smart pen.

    Drawing with the Pen tool inside a Powerpoint presentation

    Don't like what you drew? Select the Eraser tool to erase all or part of your drawing. Just like the other pens, the eraser offers a few different options such as stroke, small, medium, and segment patterns.

Draw Freehand Shapes Using PowerPoint 2016's Pens Tool

Simply open a presentation, select Review > Start Inking, then select your pen tool of choice and draw your freehand shape or text.

The pen tool is great for circling important parts of your presentation, drawing arrows for emphasis, underlining important points or just adding custom design to your slides.

How to Turn Ink to Text Using PowerPoint 365's Draw Tool

Using PowerPoint's Ink to Text tool, you can turn handwritten notes into text quickly. Simply open a presentation to get started.

  1. Using the Draw tool, write your text using the ink tool of your choice.

    Using the Ink to Text tool in Powerpoint


  2. Select Ink to Text from the toolbar.

    Using the Ink to Text tool in PowerPoint
  3. Draw a lasso around the words you wish to turn to text. PowerPoint will automatically turn the words into text, giving you spelling options just in case they missed.

    Taking ink to text using the Ink to Text tool inside Powerpoint

Turn Ink into Shapes Using PowerPoint 365's Draw Tool

You can draw quick shapes in the same way you create text using the Ink to Shape tool. Open a presentation and begin in the same way you did for the Ink to Text tool.

  1. Create your shape using your pen tool of choice.

    Using the pen tool to draw a custom shape in Powerpoint
  2. Select Ink to Shape from the toolbar.

    Selecting the Ink to Shape tool inside the Draw tool in PowerPoint.
  3. Draw a lasso around the shape you wish to change and watch as PowerPoint does the hard work for you. It even suggests shapes just in case they created the wrong one.

    Turning an ink shape into a text shape using Powerpoint

Draw Custom Lines & Shapes Using the Ruler Tool

For drawing your own lines and shapes without the help of the Ink to Text or Ink to Shape tools, you can use the Ruler tool as the perfect, built-in straightedge.

  1. In the Draw tool, select Ruler from the toolbar.

    Viewing the Ruler tool inside the Draw tool in PowerPoint.
  2. Drag the ruler around until you're happy with the placement.

    Using the Ruler tool in Powerpoint to create a straight line
  3. Once your ruler is placed, select the pen tool of your choice and create your line by tracing the ruler's edge.

    Drawing a straight line using the Pen and Ruler tools in Powerpoint
  4. When you're done, simply select Ruler again to remove it from your screen.

    Drawing a straight line using the Ruler and Pen tools inside PowerPoint.
  • How do I draw a table in PowerPoint?

    To add a table in PowerPoint, go to the Insert tab > Table. You can also add Excel charts to PowerPoint presentations.

  • Can I animate my drawings in PowerPoint?

    Yes. Select the item you want to animate in PowerPoint, then go to the Animations tab > Animations group > More and choose an animation. Use Effect Options if you want the animation on multiple items. Use the Animation Pane to change the order and timing. Use Play All to preview your animations.

  • How do I draw a timeline in PowerPoint?

    To add a timeline in PowerPoint, select Insert > SmartArt, choose a layout, and use text panes to create the timeline. Change colors or styles or reorder elements. Alternatively, export a timeline from another program into a graphical format (JPG, GIF, or PNG) and insert it into your presentation.

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