Although it has 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.

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.

Open the file in a program supporting vector files

Vector Virus

There is 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.

Paste into PowerPoint

This is where things get interesting. There are two different ways you can achieve this.

“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 a little explanation of how she does it.

Modify a vector file in PowerPoint

Firstly, 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

Before we part ways, here are few more tips:

SVG files

In PPT 2016, you can now import SVG files directly into PowerPoint. However, they won’t be editable.


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.


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.

Complex artwork

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.


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Written by

Ingrid Mengdehl

Senior design consultant

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