Using Guides in Google Slides to Align Content Like a Pro!

A cactus and a tape measure next to it. Text reads, how to use guides for perfect alignment in google slide decks.

Personally, I find it hard to work on the content for a slide deck if I don’t start with an idea for what the design of my slides will look like, and I can’t settle on a good design for my slide deck until the OCD part of my brain accepts that everything is neatly arranged and lined up exactly the way it should be. This is where guides come in. This handy tool lets you align text, shapes, images and more so that you never need to worry about whether your picture to be ten pixels further to the left. Now, I know what you’re thinking. I have a problem. You’re absolutely right, I freely admit it, but here’s how I solved it. I use guides in Google Slides.

What are Guides in Google Slides?

Guides, or guide lines, are something that are very common in graphic design apps like Photoshop or InDesign. They help you line up your content in a way that is pleasing to the eye. Before I started using guides, I spent way too much time wondering whether my text was in line with my image or if it needed to be a little further down the page. That’s the beauty of guides. When you use them, you will always know if something is lined up correctly or not. See the image below for an example of how the yellow guide lines can be used to align digital content in Google Slides.

screenshot of a slide in Google Slides that has yellow guidelines used to align the content of the slide.

How to Turn on Guides in Google Slides

If you are ready to get started using guides, all you have to do is click on either of the rulers around the outside of your slide, and then select Show Guides. Alternatively, you can go to the tool bar and click View > Guides > Show Guides. Once enabled, you will see one black vertical line, and one black horizontal line. If you hover over either of the lines with your cursor, you will see a double sided arrow which you can use to click and drag your guide along a vertical or horizontal axis.

If you need more than two guides, click on the horizontal ruler ruler to add another vertical guide, or click on the vertical ruler to add another horizontal guide. You can add as many as you need, but try not to go too crazy. Your guides will not be visible in presentation mode, but when you no longer need them you can toggle them on and off by clicking on the ruler and selecting, Show/Hide Guides. If you have more guides than you need, you can remove it by right-clicking on the guide and selecting, Delete Guide.

How to Align Content With Guides

Once your guides are in place, you can drag and drop your content around the screen so that it lines up the way you want it. As you approach the edge of a guide, you will notice that it turns red, and there is a gentle snap effect to let you know that you have reached the edge of the guide. If the snap is too constraining, or you need to make really fine adjustments, hold down the Cmd key on a Mac, or the Alt key on Windows, to temporarily disable the magnetic pull while you get when you hit the edge of a guide. If you prefer, you can move text, images or shapes around the screen with the arrow keys. Holding down shift while using the arrow key will slow things down a lot for a pixel by pixel adjustment.

How to Edit Guides in Google Slides

The default black guides are not always going to be the best choice for visibility. However, Google has a solution for that. If you right-click on a guide, you will see an option called, Change Color. This opens the color picker in Google Slides and lets you change the color of your guide to just about any color you can imagine. Your guides don’t all have to be the same color, so think about how you can take advantage of that to mark of a border or a safe area for printing.

If you right-click on a guide and choose to Edit Guides, you will be able to adjust the properties of your horizontal and vertical guides. From this menu, you can see the exact distance, in inches, that your guide is positioned in relation to the top left-hand corner of the slide. This can be helpful to reveal whether or not your guides are equidistant from each other or the edge of the screen. You can adjust the position of any guide by typing a new measurement in the box next to the guide. You can also choose another color here, and even add a new guide. If you click the X next to a guide, it will delete it.

Screenshot of the "edit guides" menu in google slides showing three guides, their distance from the top left hand corner and their chosen color. One is pink, two are blue.

The Importance of Guides in Slides

Using guides will not make you a better presenter. It won’t make your content any more interesting, or your audience more engaged. That’s on you. However, if slide design is important to you, and you’re the kind of person who likes to design their own deck or edit a slide master, then guides are a compelling addition to your toolkit.

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