Editable Icons and Such
February 27, 2018

As PowerPoint evolves, so do the methods of bringing in editable vector files. If you’re lucky enough to have the most recent version of PowerPoint, you have the option of going to the Insert tab and choosing Icons.

For those of you who are stuck in, say, PowerPoint 2010, or if you want to bring in your own custom icons, there is one method you can always count on. Enter the Mighty Enhanced Meta File.

Trivia: Did you know that the .emf file was introduced in 1993 and still works reliably even today, 25 years later?

When you Insert > Picture and choose a .emf, all you need to do is ungroup it twice to have a completely editable object. You can change the fill, the stroke, and even edit the points (in most cases).

So when you’ve created that perfect custom icon, snippet of outlined text, or whatever else you’ve worked on in Illustrator and need to put it in a presentation, export it as a dot EMF file.

There are, of course, a few things to keep in mind when working with EMFs:

  • Before exporting out of Illustrator, make your vector object fairly large. This will give you a much cleaner vector object in PowerPoint.
  • After placing in PowerPoint, don’t forget to ungroup TWICE
    • there will be an empty box that was, for all intents and purposes, the artboard in the very back. delete this, edit remaining shapes as needed.
  • EMFs are not recommended for logos or small text. To prevent logos from being messed with, always bring them in as PNGs. For text, I recommend skipping the EMF method altogether and, instead, use YouPresent’s incredibly useful Text to Outline addin. It’s for PPT 2013 and later, and it’s FREE!
  • WARNING: As of May, 2017, EMFs cannot be used in PPT 2011 for Mac or build 15.33 of PPT 2016 for Mac. If you have discovered this issue has been fixed, let me know in the comments.