How to Turn a Hollow Circle into Herringbone in Microsoft PowerPoint

Use this simple technique to create a colorful circle of chevrons that aren’t chevrons at all.

Image: Araki Illustrations/Adobe Stock

Circles add movement or flow to your data story. When this story includes several points, you can break the circle into pieces that look like rafters. Each point adds a direction to the flow – point to point. Microsoft PowerPoint doesn’t offer curved rafters that you can mold into a circle, but you can still create a visual that looks like curved rafters.

SEE: Google Workspace vs. Microsoft 365: A Side-by-Side Analysis with Checklist (TechRepublic Premium)

In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to use a hollow circle and chevrons to create a circle of several chevrons that aren’t really chevrons but rather circle fragments. I use Microsoft Office 365 on a 64-bit Windows 10 system, but you can use older versions of PowerPoint. PowerPoint for the web can display the visual, but you can’t create it in the browser.

How to insert hollow circle in PowerPoint

The secret to creating this simple visual is that the finished circle, shown in Figure A, is not four curved rafters, as it appears. You will use rafters to make these dividers in a hollow circle. In the end, the true chevrons will be gone, and the circular fragments will look like chevrons.

Figure A

This circle seems to be made of chevrons.

The first step is to insert the hollow circle:

  1. Click on the Insert tab.
  2. Click Shapes in the Illustrations group.
  3. Select Circle:Hollow from the Basic Shapes section (Figure B).
  4. Click inside the slide and drag to size and position the hollow circle. Hold the Shift key while dragging to create a perfect circle.
  5. Center the hollow circle and drag the yellow dot on the inner border to the outer border to reduce the width of the circle (Figure C).

Figure B

Choose the Circle shape: Hollow.

Figure C

Reduce the width of the circle.

The next step is to add the dividing rafters.

How to insert chevrons in PowerPoint

We’ll use the chevron shape to split the circle rather than trying to create curved chevrons. It will make sense once you add one like so:

  1. Click the Insert tab, then click Shapes in the Illustrations group.
  2. Select Arrow: Chevron from the Filled Arrows section (Figure D).
  3. Click inside the hollow circle at the top to insert the rafter. It will probably be thin, as shown in Figure E.
  4. With the chevron selected, choose white from the Shape Fill drop-down list. It doesn’t have to be white, but in this case we want it to match the background of the slide.
  5. Resize the chevron so that it is almost the same width as the circle (Figure F). It should overlap the edges of the circle, just a little if the shapes have an outline.

Figure D

Choose the rafter.

Figure E

Insert the chevron at the top of the circle.

Figure F

Change the color and size of the chevron.

Select the rafter and copy it by holding down the Ctrl key and dragging three more rafters. Position one at the bottom of the circle and using the rotation handle, rotate it so that the point goes in the same direction as the top. Add two more chevrons, one on both sides of the circles. Make sure that the points of these two rafters are also pointing in the same direction as shown in G-figure.


Place four equally spaced chevrons on the circle.

Use the rotation handles to rotate the rafters until they are equidistant and all flow in the same direction around the circle. If you’re having trouble getting the positions right, remember that you can move the shapes around by pressing Ctrl+Arrow.

With the shapes in place, it’s time to work some PowerPoint magic.

How to Fragment Circle in PowerPoint

At the moment, the chevrons do not provide the look you expected, because we are not finished. We have to break the circle into fragments that look like rafters. This is where real rafters come in.

If you’re not sure yet how many rafters you want, duplicate this slide so you don’t have to recreate it later. You can always come back to it to add or remove chevrons.

Now, let’s continue by fragmenting the circle:

  1. Press Ctrl + A to select all five shapes.
  2. Click the Shape Format contextual tab.
  3. In the Insert Shapes group, click Merge Shapes.
  4. From the drop-down list, choose Fragment (H-figure).


Choose Fragment from the Merge Shapes drop-down menu.

I figure

The shapes seem to disappear.

As you can see in I figure, PowerPoint displays only the outline of shapes. If you remove the outlines before this step, you won’t see anything at all except the selection boxes. With all shapes still selected, choose a color from the Shape Fill drop-down list.

Click outside the shapes to deselect them. Then click inside the circle so you can remove the center section by pressing Delete. It is a remnant of the process of fragmentation. Then drag over a chevron to select it and the overlapping edges and press Delete.

As you can see in Figure JI removed the four chevrons and the small pieces that overlapped the edge of the circle, to remove the border.

Figure J

Delete all chevrons.

Be sure to select only the rafters. If you accidentally select and delete one of the fragmented circle pieces, press Ctrl + Z to recover it.

Now let’s add some color to the chevrons and complete the circle.

How to End Fragments in PowerPoint

You can stop now, but you’ll probably want each shard to stand out a bit, so let’s give them a different color. Select one of the split sections as shown in Figure K. Next, click on the Shape Format contextual tab and choose a color from the Shape Fill drop-down list. Repeat this step to change the color of the remaining fragments.

Figure K

Select a fragmented section.

As you can see in Figure K, one of the fragments is still blue. The colored shards now look like curved chevrons, but as you know, they aren’t chevrons at all.

There are several things you can do at this point to customize the “chevron” circle:

  • You can remove borders or change its color.
  • You can expand the white sections, but you’ll need to go back to the duplicate slide to do so.
  • You can also add or remove chevrons by adding or deleting real chevrons, but you’ll have to go back to the duplicate slide.

Once the circle is the way you want it, I recommend regrouping it. This way you can work with one piece instead of four. Press Ctrl + A to select all four fragments. Click the Format Shape contextual tab, then choose Group Objects from the Arrange drop-down list in the Drawing group.

You are now ready to add text, icons or whatever you want to each “chevron” to tell your story.