Picture Perfect Graphics in PowerPoint

By Elizabeth Robie

The Remove Background Tool

Have you ever visited Office’s ClipArt gallery? If you have, then you know it’s worth the gander--thousands of royalty-free photographs, illustrations, audio clips, and video clips to download and edit to suit your needs.

However, have you ever inserted a photograph with the following disappointing results?


What’s wrong with this picture?

The photograph just screams “Hey, check me out! I was copied and pasted into this slide!” Not only is the image blocky; its green background clashes with the slide’s cerulean blue. The photograph’s background needs to go.

How can this be remedied? Photoshop? CorelDRAW? No, it’s easier than that!

There’s no need to open another application. The job can be done with the “Remove Background” tool – a new feature in Office 2010.

How does it work?

1. First, select the target photograph.



2. Once the photograph is selected, select the Picture Tools ‘Format’ contextual tab in the Ribbon.






3. Next, select the Remove Background tool.







Immediately you will see a purple wash indicating the tool’s best guess of your photo’s background.



If the marquee does not enclose the subject you want to extract (as above), you will need to drag the handles and enlarge the marquee so that it includes the entire figure:



4. If necessary, use the editing tools in the Ribbon to mark areas to keep or remove.







5. Once all marks are made, select ‘Keep Changes’ for the following result:


Voilà! Now you have a slide that looks clean and professional.


The Remove Background tool uses a complex algorithm to isolate foreground subjects from their backgrounds. Since Background Removal isn't solely based on color or contrast values, it can even extract objects from backgrounds of similar hues:












For more information on working with graphics in Powerpoint join us in class or online!


Lissy RobieA former college track star (boasting a sub 5 minute mile) and high school science teacher, Elizabeth Robie is passionate about education and technology. In her spare time, she enjoys running, playing with her dog Seamus, and watching Duke basketball religiously. At Learn iT! Elizabeth teaches the entire MS Office Suite.