Meta Shapes

Showcase your firm's advisory engagements with tombstone slides in your client pitchbooks


Macabacus' PowerPoint tools let you create, manage, and access a library of deal tombstones to quickly generate tombstone slides, or "creds" pages, for your client pitchbooks that highlight advisory engagements and help your firm win new business. Tombstones are published to Macabacus libraries, meaning they can be shared across your organization for convenient access by everyone. Powerful filters help you find and sort tombstones that showcase transactions relevant to your pitchbook audience and topic.

Meta Shapes

In Macabacus v9, we rebranded tombstones as Meta Shapes to highlight their support for a broader range of shape content. Meta Shapes are similar to regular library shapes, except that metadata describing the shape or its contents is published to libraries alongside the shape itself to facilitate discovery in the Library pane (similar to the relationship between slides and Meta Slides).

Tombstones are just one of many possible use cases for Meta Shapes, although perhaps the most common. This page focuses on tombstones to provide a practical example of how to work with Meta Shapes, but it is generally applicable to any Meta Shape content. Consequently, the terms "Meta Shape" and "tombstone" are often used interchangeably on this page.

Using Tombstones

Access Meta Shapes (e.g., tombstones) just like any other library content—using Macabacus' Library pane.

Inserting tombstones from the Library pane


To find tombstones and other Meta Shape content relevant to the presentation you are preparing, expand the Filters section near the top of the Library pane and apply filters as desired. For example, you can search for tombstones representing transactions within a specific date or deal value range, deals within a particular industry, engagements in which your firm played a specific advisory role (e.g., lead bookrunner), and much more.

Available filtering options are determined by how you or your administrator configures Macabacus.

Use the Search bar at the top of the Library pane as another way to filter results. Macabacus will search any text that appears in tombstones for matches. Note that the search bar does not search tombstone data—use filters for that.


Once you have filtered your tombstones as desired, use the links at the bottom of the Tombstone Filters panel to sort them by any available field. In pitchbooks, tombstones are usually sorted by transaction date or deal value in descending order.


Inserting tombstones from the Library pane

Insert tombstones into your presentation by clicking the Insert button or dragging the tombstones onto your slide. When inserting tombstones, Macabacus prompts you for how you want to lay them out on your slide, and arranges them into evenly spaced columns within the bounds of the body placeholder shape in your slide master.

Tombstones are inserted onto your slide as pictures at the size intended for use, and subsequent resizing may lead to undesirable image distortion.

Configuring Tombstones

Before using tombstones as described above, you must configure tombstone fields, create tombstones, and publish them to a Macabacus library, generally in that order. These steps are described in more detail below.

Are tombstones right for my organization?

Macabacus' tombstone functionality is particularly useful in mid-sized and larger firms that do many deals across different industry (e.g., technology, industrials) or functional (e.g., M&A, ECM, DCM) groups. In these organizations, tombstone slides are generally dynamic, and may change considerably from one presentation to the next. If you are a smaller firm that focuses on just one industry vertical (e.g., a healthcare M&A boutique) and your tombstone slides generally do not change unless your firm completes another transaction, it may be easier to publish your tombstone slides to the library as they are updated than to publish tombstones individually.

The first step in using tombstones with Macabacus is to configure Meta Shape (e.g., tombstone) fields used to store transaction or engagement data and provide filtering/sorting options for end users. Think of fields like columns in a database that must be populated for each tombstone you publish. Common fields for tombstones include deal size, closing date, advisory role, and industry, among others.

To configure tombstone fields in Macabacus v9, open the Library Manager dialog and go to the Library Data section. To configure tombstone fields in Macabacus v8, open the Settings dialog with the Macabacus > Settings > Configure button and navigate to the Tombstones tab. When you configure fields the first time, Macabacus prepopulates the dialog with suggested fields that you can edit or remove as desired.

Tombstone Fields

Field Selection

Give careful consideration to the Meta Shape fields you select and the options presented when configuring these fields. If you are creating a library of tombstones for use across your company, be sure to solicit input from the business units that will be working with tombstones. Remember that these fields will be used primarily by end-users to filter tombstones in the Library pane, so adding more fields than necessary for filtering purposes will only have adverse performance consequences and make publishing tombstones more burdensome.

Fields with input type "List" allow users to select from predefined options when publishing and filtering Meta Shapes, so carefully consider what list options you specify.

Required Fields

Although you can require that certain fields be populated when publishing tombstones, keep in mind that when publishing tombstones for pending transactions, some deal information, such as closing date or deal value, may be unknown. Be thoughtful about which fields are required.

Editing Fields

You can add, remove, and edit fields after publishing tombstones, but keep in mind the following:

  • When adding a new field, the field will be blank for previously published tombstones until retroactively populated in the Tombstone Data dialog.
  • Removing a field will also delete any data associated with that field from the library.
  • Editing an existing field (e.g., changing its name or list options) will not impact tombstone data.

After making changes to Meta Shape fields, be sure to republish shared settings as described below, if applicable.

Shared Settings

If your organization uses tombstones or other Meta Shapes in a shared Macabacus library, you must publish Meta Shape fields as shared settings. To do so, open the Share Settings dialog (Enterprise Configuration dialog in v8) from the Macabacus > Settings menu, check the Meta Shapes Fields box (Tombstone Fields box in v8), then proceed with publishing as described below in this documentation.

Access Restrictions

To modify Meta Shape fields in the Library Manager dialog (or tombstone fields in the Tombstone Fields dialog in v8), you must be a Macabacus or Windows administrator.

Creating Tombstones

Before publishing tombstones to your library you must create them in PowerPoint. Tombstones are usually Microsoft Office shapes comprised of several grouped shapes like text boxes and company logos. Alternatively, if you have existing tombstones, they might be pictures. Text in the tombstone normally includes information such as the transaction date, deal size, and your firm's advisory role. All of your tombstones should have the exact same height and width to avoid slide layout issues.

In addition to creating tombstones manually using native PowerPoint functionality, you can use Macabacus to more quickly generate tombstones with a consistent appearance based on templates defined by you. See the Tombstone Generator documentation for more information.

Neither Macabacus nor any other third party solution can reliably generate multiple tombstones at once from raw data. Creating tombstones inevitably requires more user input than a fully automated process allows, due to myriad permutations of factors like logo selection and placement, text width and wrapping, customer preferences, and other things. Dynamically generated tombstones would frequently or always require manual adjustment, negating many of the efficiencies that such automation should provide.

Publishing Tombstones

Once you have created your tombstone in PowerPoint, group all shapes that make up the tombstone and select this grouped shape. Open Library Manager, navigate to the tombstone content group, and click the Publish to Group button to open a dialog that prompts you for information about the transaction or engagement based on your tombstones fields. Required inputs are marked as such, and designated as such elsewhere in the Library Manager dialog. Once you have populated this data, click the OK button to publish the tombstone to the library of your choosing.

After publishing a tombstone, you may need to restart PowerPoint for the tombstone to appear in your library.

Tombstone Data

The Tombstone Data dialog provides a convenient way to view and edit all of your tombstone data, and can be accessed from the Tombstones section of the Settings dialog (pictured above). By default, this dialog shows only transactions and engagements from the last year (as determined by the first "date" field). You can modify the date range using the applicable filter on the left side of the Tombstone Data dialog.

Tombstone Data

Tombstone Data

Editing Data

Edit data by selecting the desired cell and clicking into its contents or keying F2 .

Exporting Data

Export data to a new Excel workbook by checking the desired tombstone rows and clicking the Export button.

Access Restrictions

To modify tombstone data in the Tombstone Data dialog, you must be a Macabacus or Windows administrator.

This documentation refers to the latest Macabacus version. Some features and descriptions of these features may not apply to older versions of Macabacus. Update your Macabacus software to take advantage of the latest features.

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