Creating mirror images in PowerPoint

Whether using built-in settings or slight of hand, it's easy to create a mirror image of a PowerPoint object.

You can create a mirror image of an existing object by setting the object's 3-D rotation X value to 180. There's also a quick dragging trick that will create a mirror image quicker than you can reset the X value. I'll show you how to do both. Then, you can decide which to use.

3-D setting

Let's suppose you're using a callout to put words in the black dog's head—she is the thinker of the two. (The brindle guy in the background is the real leader, but he lets her do all the work and take all the blame.) Unfortunately, after inserting the callout AutoShape, you notice that the little linking tail points in the wrong direction.

Now, you could swap the AutoShape and the picture easily enough, but that won't always be an option. When that's the case, you can flip the AutoShape (or most any object) as follows:

  1. Select the AutoShape and click the Dialog launcher in the Size group on the Format tab. Or, right-click the object and choose Format Picture.
  2. Select 3-D Rotation in the left panel.
  3. Change the X value from 0 to 180.
  4. Click Close. Now, the linking tail appears to be coming from the sassy dog. (I also moved the dog picture and added some text via a text box.)

Sleight of hand

There's another method that involves a simple drag exercise. It only seems difficult at first. Once you've done it a few times, you'll find it quick and helpful. Here's how to flip an object by dragging it:

  1. Select the AutoShape.
  2. Click the center move handle on the left side and the crosshair pointer will appear.
  3. Drag the crosshair pointer straight across to the right until you've created a mirror image.
  4. Release the mouse. At this point, you'll have just one AutoShape, but the tail will be pointing in the right direction.
  5. Reposition the AutoShape, add the appropriate text, and you're done!

You might find that you use both techniques or that you rely on one more than the other. It doesn't matter—knowing both will make you more efficient when it counts!


Susan Sales Harkins is an IT consultant, specializing in desktop solutions. Previously, she was editor in chief for The Cobb Group, the world's largest publisher of technical journals.


Well Susan, I'll bet you're glad you started this one! You have been "hit" twice by pedants. To them I would either say "get a life", or try helping someone who is new to a concept, then maybe you will understand why Susan wrote her article the way she did. Anyway, the options Susan has given are easy to use, and for someone who is new to managing graphics, easy to follow. Well done.


SLEIGHT of hand is what you mean. "Sleight" has to do with dexterity or craftiness. It frequently refers to a trick that is performed by hand. "Slight" has to do with size and means small or slender. "Slight of hand" makes no sense, unless you are saying a person needs small hands to perform a task.


If you absolutely need to reverse the entire image, these techniques work great. But if you just want the tail of the callout to point to the dog, why not just left click and hold on the yellow diamond on the tail of the callout and pull it to the dog's mouth? Many autoshapes have the yellow diamond which allow you to alter the shape somewhat (like the smiley face can frown, etc.)


I think most of the time, people are curious. I don't mind. When writing something up, I do try to think of the things that will make readers go, "Well... wait a minute..." but fall short in that respect, often! :) Coming up with simple examples is difficult sometimes -- contrived examples probably aren't the best, but they seem to work the best in the long run. A real world example often has a way of over-complicating things. I should have said "You can do this by simply dragging... blah, blah, blah, but for the sake of the example, please play along..."


I'm just demonstrating a technique. Often, there are easier ways to accomplish something with the tools at hand. However, I was just demonstrating the flipped images and the AutoShape just happened to be the object I used. Thanks for mentioning this though because I'm sure someone will find it useful. I don't want anyone working harder than necessary and I should've added a quick parenthetical.


Thanks, I always enjoy your tips. As I said, if mirroring was what you needed, yours work great. Unfortunately, I was looking more at your end result (moving the callout point) rather than the technique. Sorry. Keep up the great work.

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