Making Sexy Molecules in Powerpoint

Making sexy molecules is a great way to make your science shine. Sometimes you just need that extra umph for your grant or presentation. There are a lot of drawing programs out there so which one should a chemist use? I suggest PowerPoint. All chemists have it installed in their computers, and it only takes seconds to make high-quality molecules. Below is a 3D image of benzene I made.

Sexy Benzene

To make this image, first lay out the correct two dimensional geometry of benzene in powerpoint using circles (Carobon-diameter=1″; Hydrogen-diameter=0.75″) and rectangles (height=0.17″; width=1.71″) for bonds. It should look something like this:

2D Powerpoint Layout of Benzene

Group all the components together and click shape effects in the drawing pane and select preset10:

Preset10 in action for your molecule

I like this angle, and it is a starting point for a lot of my projects. Now it is time to make things round. Select all the carbons and use these settings to format the image:

Settings for Carbon

Settings for Hydrogen:

Settings for Hydrogen

Settings for the Bonds:

Settings for Bonds

Your molecule should look something like what is shown below, assuming you also changed the fill and line colors along the way:

Wrong Height for Bonds

Finally, you need to move the bonds lower and here is the setting I used:

Height settings for bonds

I hope this quick and dirty tutorial for making sexy molecules is useful for your work. For those in the sexy molecule business, what programs do you use?


  1. Any tips for non-planar molecules?

    • Obviously, it can’t handle anything too crazy, but if the molecule can be broken into planes, it’s amenable to PowerPoint.

  2. PowerPoint? I’ll have a try. Thanks for sharing.

  3. I generally use Avogadro for 3D rendering of molecules They don’t turn out quite as nicely as yours but it is a quicker process.

  4. This was really interesting and easy to draw.

  5. Pingback: 5 – Making sexy molecules in PowerPoint | Offer Your

  6. Or if you want to push the envelope with state of the art molecule graphics:

    Some sweet screenshots:

    Completely open source. And yes, it makes 3D GIFs, too. Sexy indeed!

  7. > All chemists have it installed in their computers […]

    The few chemists I know (including some Doctors in chemistry) don’t even use windows, let alone MSO. Between costs and hard-of-use, I don’t see then adopting it merely for aesthetics in presentations.

    Any ideas if LibreOffice or other office suites have something similar?

  8. If you don’t mind a bit of trigonometry then OpenSCAD might work.
    LibreOffice draw is also good.

  9. Have a go with Chemsketch by ACD LABS. It’s free ware and you can make complex 3D molecules really quickly, as it actually for chemical drawings. The finish isn’t quite as nice but your angles will all be automatically accurate and the molecule doesn’t have to be in on plane.

    Hope this helps.

  10. That’s really cool. I guess you can change the size and color of the spheres to make different kinds of atoms.
    I’ll have to try this!

  11. Pingback: Making Sexy Catalytic Converters in Power Point » Chemistry Blog

  12. It is not possible to me.
    (i have PowerPoint2010)
    What PowerPoint version?

  13. cookingwithsolvents says:

    Wouldn’t it be a LOT easier to export an xyz or cif file from any chemistry 3-D drawing program, import into ortep3, export a pov and render?

    1) you can use presets for atom sizes and bond lengths
    2) you can rotate in ortep3 if you don’t like the orientation
    3) if you have an open source 3D program everything is open source.

  14. Hello there! It’s difficult to find anything interesting on this subject (I mean something that is not overly simplistic), because everything related to 3D seems very complicated. You however sound like you know what you’re talking about 🙂 Thank you for finding time to write relevant content for us!

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