Although it’s been possible for a long time, using vector files in PowerPoint has recently become significantly easier. Whether you want to copy something from Illustrator or add a swanky SVG element to your slide, it’s all possible and we’re here to share our secret tips with you.

If you have Office 365 or PowerPoint 2019 or 2021, then it’s really easy:

  • Copy the vector graphic in Illustrator (Ctrl + C)
  • Paste into PowerPoint (Ctrl + V)
  • Convert to Microsoft Object drawing object so that it’s editable using Ungroup (Ctrl + Shift + G)
  • Then ungroup the graphic (again) to edit individual components (Ctrl + Shift + G)

But what if you don’t have Office 365? Or what if you get a .psd Photostop or .ai Illustrator file of the vector, and not a nice and easy .svg file that you can just drop into PowerPoint?

Let’s imagine. Lydia, from Marketing, has been tasked by her manager to create an informative, if gently scolding, presentation on the danger of not washing your hands regularly. An essential, after Bob from Accounting contaminated half the company with a particularly nasty strain of Norovirus and almost drove the business into bankruptcy!

Lydia, who regularly reads our blog and knows that the best way into someone’s brain is by using visual slides, wants to create something truly engaging. She has a quick look through some resource websites and find the perfect illustration: some cute looking virus.

vectors in powerpointThere is, however, one problem. The file is in Illustrator format and can’t be imported directly into PowerPoint.

Let’s have a look at what Lydia did to use this particular virus image.

How to import an Illustrator file into PowerPoint

Open the file in a program supporting vector files

Vector Virus

There’s a selection of programs that allow you to open vector files. Here’s a non-exhaustive list:

Once you have the file open, select all the artwork you need and copy it. This is where things get interesting. There are two different ways to paste into PowerPoint.

“Paste Special”

In the Home tab, click on the small arrow under Paste and select Paste Special.

A dialog box will open. In the list, select Paste as Picture (Enhanced Metafile), then click OK.

Paste as Picture

Your picture will be pasted into the centre of the slide.

Virus Centre

“The Shortcut”

There is also a shortcut version of this function. Right-click on the slide (and hold), press U, and there you are! One vector asset added.

Let’s keep imagining. Lydia, although delighted that she could add the virus to her slide, has now realised that the colours clash a little with her company’s brand guidelines. She can’t let that happen and so decides to change the virus’ colours. Here’s an explanation of how she does it.

How to modify a vector file in PowerPoint

First, you need to ungroup the picture. Select it, then right-click on it and select Ungroup.

Modify Vector

A dialogue box will appear, asking you if you’re happy to convert the picture to a Microsoft Office drawing object. Click Yes.

Convert Virus

Congratulations! Your picture is now a group of editable shapes. You can change their appearance, and grow and shrink them without loss of resolution.

Small tip: Every imported picture will have a transparent “Autoshape” layer in the background. It’s visible if you open the Selection Pane, and you can easily delete it.

So here we are. Lydia now has a brand-approved virus and can go on to build some incredible visual slides on the benefits of good hygiene so that the company never has to face bankruptcy again!

Final Virus

Working with vectors in PowerPoint

There are a few other specifics that you should be aware of when working with imported vectors in PowerPoint. Gradients on vector assets are not recognised and therefore will only be pasted as non-editable pictures. If your asset has gradients, we recommend you either change them to a block colour, or export it as a PNG and import into PPT as a picture. Similarly, if your artwork has a lot of lines, we recommend converting them to shapes before importing to PowerPoint, as you could lose the line weight ratio when editing it.

And finally, vector files that include a lot of elements tend to slow down PowerPoint considerably, which can make working on one slide quite difficult. In order to avoid this, try to simplify your files as much as possible.


Leave a comment
Written by

Ingrid Mengdehl

Managing design consultant;
IT lead

View Ingrid Mengdehl's profile

Related articles

Dec 2023

When Microsoft brought out 3D models support in PowerPoint, we were all a bit excited, however there usually comes a point where you want to create your own 3D models in PowerPoint to add that little pinch of excitement to your presentation. If you don’t know where to begin, fear not. We have just the guide for you!

  1. Image of nima nima says:

    thank you……….god bless you……..!!!!

  2. Image of Neetha Neetha says:

    That helped me a lot! Thank you!!!

  3. Image of Limo Limo says:

    Thank You Sooooooo Much

  4. Image of Andray Andray says:

    Doesn’t seem to work on Mac unfortunately.
    I am using 360 and latest Adobe.
    The vector object is just pasted as a picture, I think as a PNG with transparency.

    • Image of Ingrid Mengdehl Ingrid Mengdehl says:

      Hi Andray – Sorry to hear that – Macs are always a little bit fiddlier. The process takes a few more steps and involves getting Open Office (free):
      1. In Illustrator, export your drawing as an EMF file (in the Export As menu)
      2. Start a new presentation in Open Office and import the EMF file you’ve just created by Insert>Picture>From File.
      3. Once the EMF file has been placed, right-click the art and select Break.
      4. Save the Open Office Presentation as a PowerPoint presentation.
      5. Open the new PowerPoint in PowerPoint and then paste your drawings.

      Hope that helps!

Leave a Reply

Join the BrightCarbon mailing list for monthly invites and resources

Tell me more!

First of all the deck looks great, once again you guys have done an outstanding job. Second, I’d like to comment on the quality of the training provided by your colleagues - quite simply it was exceptional. I have spoken to the whole team and that view is unanimous. Please pass this on.

James Bagan MyLife Digital