Making an Ellipse in PowerPoint

By Elizabeth Mott

Ellipses define oval shapes.
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Adding shapes to your Microsoft PowerPoint slides enables you to create graphics, add design elements and present information visually. These elements can serve as backgrounds for text, illustrations or montages. To create an ellipse that doesn't automatically display the effects included in your PowerPoint theme or template, use the program's tools to craft geometrics that don't draw from the SmartArt graphics library.

Locate the Illustrations group on the Insert tab of the PowerPoint ribbon, click on the "Shapes" item to reveal its menu of shape types, then click "Basic Shapes" and select the almost-circular icon marked with the "Oval" tooltip.

Click and drag on your slide to create an ellipse. If you hold down the "Shift" key while you draw, your shape forms a circle instead.

Click on the "Basic Shapes" item again and select the ring-like shape with the "Donut" tooltip. Click and drag on your slide to draw an elliptical ring. As with the Oval shape type, the Donut only draws circular output if you hold down the "Shift" key.

Click on a shape to select it so you can edit its dimensions or appearance. To widen the ring of a Donut shape, drag the yellow control point on its inner ring toward the center of the shape. If you drag far enough, the center opening closes up. Drag the outer control points to resize or reshape the overall graphic element.

Select an ellipse and switch to the Format tab of the PowerPoint ribbon. With a shape selected, the tab changes context sensitively to display the Drawing Tools. You also can double-click on the shape to access the Format options. Within the Drawing Tools, you can change style, fill, texture, outline and effects.


Rotate a shape by dragging the rotation handle at the top. Hold the "Shift" key to force PowerPoint to rotate the shape in increments of 15 degrees.

Hold down the "Alt" key and drag an ellipse or other shape to duplicate it.

Click on an ellipse to select it, and type to add text to it. By default, text appears in the vertical and horizontal center of the shape.


Unless you right-click on a shape tool and choose "Lock Drawing Mode" from the menu at your cursor, you must reselect the tool each time you want to draw an additional shape. To exit lock mode, press the "Esc" key.