Here's our Microsoft Office Tip for.. July 17, 2000
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Use Guides to Measure Distances
Normally when you drag a guide line from one place on the screen to another, PowerPoint shows you a ToolTip readout of the guide's distance from the center of the slide. That's useful sometimes. But it's not at all helpful when you want to know the distance from one point to another on the slide. Luckily, you can use guides for other types of measurements if you're Shifty.
Position a guide at the starting point of the distance you'd like to measure, then hold down the Shift key as you drag the guide to the ending point. Now, instead of giving you a distance-from-center readout, PowerPoint starts with a measurement of 0 and increases it as you drag the guide, so you can tell exactly how far it is from here to that rectangle over there.
It's hard to make precise measurements of small distances because the guide (and its measurement readout values) are locked to the grid and jump in fixed increments. To temporarily disable the grid, hold down the Alt key in addition to the Shift key as you drag the guide. Zooming in on the slide will also help you make more accurate measurements.