Work with aspect ratios to preserve your graphics when you copy slides

Applies to
Microsoft Office PowerPoint® 2003

By Mary Feil-Jacobs, Microsoft Presentation Design Specialist

While you can copy slides without graphics or logos from one presentation into another without a hitch, sometimes when you reuse slides that have art, you can get unexpected results, such as stretched or distorted graphics.

This occurs when the templates for the original presentation and the destination presentation use different aspect ratios (aspect ratio: The ratio between picture width and picture height. This ratio can be maintained even when resizing a picture.). Most templates use either a 4:3 or 16:9 aspect ratio.

A slide's aspect ratio is calculated by dividing the width of the slide by its height. For example, at Microsoft, the corporate standard template for PowerPoint presentations is 10 inches wide by 7.5 inches tall. Ten divided by 7.5 is 1.333, or 4/3, which is written as 4:3 to indicate that it is a ratio.

Big-screen presentations, such as major keynote addresses at conferences, often use templates with a 16:9 aspect ratio. The dimensions of templates with a 16:9 aspect ratio vary depending on the screen-projection requirements, but they are almost twice as wide as they are tall. For example, at Microsoft, the most commonly used keynote template is 19.2 inches wide by 10.8 inches high.

ShowInside aspect ratio calculation

You can think of an aspect ratio as a fraction reduced to the lowest common denominator. In the case of the corporate standard template, the aspect ratio is 10:7.5, but because 7.5 is not a whole number, a mathematician might write that ratio as 20:15 (by multiplying both sides by 2 to get whole numbers). That ratio could then be reduced to 4:3 (by dividing both sides by 5 to get the lowest common denominator).

Here are some tips for moving slides and graphics between presentations that use the 4:3 and 16:9 aspect ratios.

    Enter text on shapes and graphics by using an Office program

Text entered by using PowerPoint or other Microsoft Office programs is resized proportionally, even if the shapes or graphics containing the text are stretched. The text will not be distorted when you copy it from one template to another, although the text might wrap differently within the shapes.

    Restore the original dimensions for a graphic

You can "fix" a distorted graphic by resetting it to its original dimensions.


  1. Select the graphic, and then, on the Picture toolbar (toolbar: A bar with buttons and options that you use to carry out commands. To display a toolbar, press ALT and then SHIFT+F10.), click Reset PictureButton image.

If the Picture toolbar is not visible, on the View menu, point to Toolbars, and then click Picture.

 Note   The Picture toolbar appears in the lower-left corner of the screen unless you have moved it.

Another way (although not as quick) to remove distortion from a graphic is to use the Format Picture dialog box, but this method does not allow you to specify an exact size.

  1. Double-click the graphic to display the Format Picture dialog box.
  2. On the Size tab, clear the Lock Aspect Ratio check box.
  3. In the Height and Width boxes, under Scale, enter 100% or any other numbers that are the same percentage.

    Move slides and graphics by copying and pasting

You can avoid distorting graphics by copying them from one slide to the Clipboard, and then pasting them into the destination presentation that uses the different aspect ratio.


  1. Click the graphic in the original presentation to select it.
  2. On the Edit menu, click Copy.

— or —

Press CTRL+C.

  1. Switch to the slide in the second presentation or template, click the distorted graphic, and then press DELETE.
  2. On the Edit menu, click Paste.

— or —

Press CTRL+V.

If you have a large number of slides to move, you might want to paste all the slides into the destination presentation (letting the graphics distort), and then go back slide by slide and copy and paste the graphics individually (after deleting the distorted ones). You might find, however, that after pasting the graphics they are still either too large or too small. To fix this, you can resize your original template before copying the graphics (see the next tip).

    Resize your original template

If you want to move a complex animation between templates of different aspect ratios, the best way is to copy and paste it. If the pasted animation is the wrong size, go back to the original template and resize the template so that it remains proportional to the dimensions of the original template, but matches the height or width (your choice) of the template that you are copying into.

For example, suppose that you want to copy a graphic from a template that uses a 4:3 aspect ratio into a template that uses a 16:9 aspect ratio. If you want the graphic to appear the same height in the 16:9 template, change the width of the 4:3 template. If the 4:3 template has a width of 10 inches and a height of 7.5 inches, and the 16:9 template that you want to copy into has a width of 19.2 inches and a height of 10.8 inches, you can use the Dimensions proportional to 4:3 table later in this article to determine that a new height of 10.5 inches in a 4:3 template would have a corresponding width of 14 inches.

So in the Page Setup dialog box (File menu), you would change the Width to 14 inches and the Height to 10.5 inches in the 4:3 template. You won’t see a change because it is still 4:3 proportional, just scaled up. But when you copy the graphic from the resized 4:3 template into the 16:9 template, it will be the same height as it appears in the 4:3 template. If you want a graphic to appear the same width, resize your original template to match the width of the destination template.

 Note   If you have a precise height or width that you must match, you might need to calculate the corresponding width or height yourself. If the height will remain the same, calculate the width for the 4:3 template. Remember, you want the ratio of 4.3 width (or height) to be the same for the 16.9 width (or height). Thus, the formula to calculate the new width for 4:3 = (16:9 width x 4:3 height) /16:9 height.

ShowCopy a graphic while maintaining the height

  1. Click the graphic to select it.
  2. On the File menu, click Page Setup.
  3. In the Height box, enter the number that you want to keep the same.
  4. In the Width list, enter the number that you want to change to.

Use the following tables to determine the new width.

ShowCopy a graphic while maintaining the width

  1. Click the graphic to select it.
  2. On the File menu, click Page Setup.
  3. In the Width box, enter the number that you want to keep the same.
  4. In the Height box, enter the number that you want to change to.

Use the following tables to determine the new height.

Aspect ratio conversion tables

ShowDimensions proportional to 4:3

Width Height
1 0.75
2 1.50
3 2.25
4 3.00
5 3.75
6 4.50
7 5.25
8 6.00
9 6.75
10 7.50
11 8.25
12 9.00
13 9.75
14 10.50
15 11.25
16 12.00
17 12.75
18 13.50
19 14.25
20 15.00
21 15.75
22 16.50

ShowDimensions proportional to 16:9

Width Height
1 0.5625
2 1.1250
3 1.6875
4 2.2500
5 2.8125
6 3.3750
7 3.9375
8 4.5000
9 5.0625
10 5.6250
11 6.1875
12 6.7500
13 7.3125
14 7.8750
15 8.4375
16 9.0000
17 9.5625
18 10.1250
19 10.6875
20 11.2500
21 11.8125
22 12.3750

About the Author: Mary Feil-Jacobs works on executive presentations for Microsoft corporate events.

Applies to:
PowerPoint 2003