How to use playing cards as a metaphor for choice

In many documents or presentations, you need your stakeholders to make a choice. In fact, the whole purpose of the deck might be to drive that decision. One way of indicating that a decision is required is to provide a not-so-subtle visual clue by presenting the choices as a set of playing cards. Literally: pick a card…

And it’s very easy to create.

Step 1: Draw and format one card

Create a rounded rectangle in the rough aspect ratio of a playing card. (A standard playing card ratio is 7:5, so you could set the height as 7cm and the width as 5cm, then scale while holding down Shift . But you don’t need to be exact.)
At this stage you’ll have to guess how big the card needs to be; you can adjust it in a moment.
Set the rounded corners so they look about right for a playing card. No right or wrong amount here, just what feels OK. The default looks quite good in fact.
Set the fill to white. But feel free to choose a different colour.
Use a pale grey for the outline or set a very subtle drop shadow. The one one in the example below has the settings as shown in the screenshot.

Step 2: Duplicate for each option

Make a copy for each option you have. CTRL+D (CMD + D) will duplicate an object and is the same as CTRL+C, CTRL+V. But quicker.
Label them. Make sure you give each option a number or letter so it is easy to refer to them.

Step 3: Add the details

Add a title and any content that you need to each option.
If you need to resize a card to fit content in, make sure you resize them all by selecting all cards and then resizing them together.
If you add other content such as images, then group together so each card is one object.

Step 4: Arrange the cards

To drive home the ‘pick-a-card’ metaphor, you can fan the cards. This is optional; you could just distribute them on the slide. But fanning will create a slightly more impactful, memorable image.

Add a small rotation to each card. Starting with the left-most, rotate slightly to the left, ending up with a slight right rotation on the last card. The best way to make this balanced is to use the Format Pane: right-click on one of the cards > Size and Position and use the up and down arrows in the Rotation box. You need at most 2-3° difference between each card.
Align and horizontally distribute the cards to even them out.

If they are overlapping, use the Home >Arrange>Send Forward/Backwards commands to put the left-most one underneath and the right-most one on top.

That’s it. You could extend the metaphor by putting hearts, diamonds etc on the cards using Insert > Icons. But be mindful about whether this might tip the metaphor into one about taking a gamble rather than making a choice, and whether that is appropriate in your context.

Do you want to learn how to improve the quality of your documents so that they reflect the quality of your thinking? Talk to us to discuss how we can help.
Get in contact
August 3, 2022


Do you work in a professional or corporate setting? Do you write everything down in PowerPoint? Do you worry that your documents don't reflect well on you?

We're creating a masterclass that turns 22 years of experience into an in-depth online course that you can work through at your own speed. Learn how to create clear, compelling deliverables for complex, critical content. And how to get faster and more efficient.

hours of 4K video
homework exercises
assessments with feedback
reusable tools and templates

Backed up with a community where you can seek inspiration and share examples, and watch live redesigns from member submissions.

More information to follow. Sign up to be notified when the course is ready and to receive an early-bird discount.

Notify me