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PowerPoint Tips

Set up and use AutoLayouts Adjusting line spacing
Setting the default text style Selecting small objects
Build presentations... Creating pages with slides...
Using different backgrounds... Making presentation files smaller
Editing drawings Importing art into clip gallery
Change default colors Animate Individual Objects
Using hyperlinks

Insert Macromedia Flash movie into PowerPoint

Graphics-editing capabilities

Play different music across different slides

How to embed a Sound file

Drawing Perfect Circles or Squares in PowerPoint

Display a PowerPoint presentation on two screens

Insert an e-mail address into a PowerPoint slide

A Different PowerPoint Background

Reduce Your Presentations File Size
Create Effective Presentations Hiding Slides in PowerPoint


Use the information below at your own risk.  See "Terms of Use"

Adjusting Line Spacing

When you have a lot of text slides in a presentation, it seems inevitable that some will have more text than will comfortably fit on a slide and some that leave a few lonely-looking lines at the top of the slide.

You can always bump the text size up and down to fit the text to the slide, but it looks less than professional to have the text size jump up and down from slide to slide. Adjusting the spacing between lines of text often looks better.

To adjust the line spacing for a whole block of text, click the text once to get an I-beam insertion cursor, then press the Esc key. This selects the entire text block. Next, choose Format, Line Spacing to open the Line Spacing dialog box. Here, you can make three different spacing adjustments:
  1. Line Spacing increases or decreases the amount of space between every line in the text block.
  2. Before Paragraph increases or decreases the amount of space between each bullet point and the PREVIOUS one.
  3. After Paragraph increases or decreases the amount of space between each bullet point and the FOLLOWING one.

You can use the Up or Down arrow to make spacing adjustments or type the value you want directly in the text boxes in the Line Spacing dialog box. And you can make your adjustments in your choice of units, Lines or Points. Click Preview to see the effect of your changes.

Tip in a tip: If you want your slides to look their best and be as legible as possible, avoid decreasing the line spacing too much--for example, don't set it to less than one line.   

Sometimes you need to apply line spacing to some but not all of the lines in a text block. Suppose, for example, that you have first- and second-level bullet points and want the second-level bullets to sit closer to the first-level bullet they
belong with and a little further away from the first-level bullet point that follows. It couldn't be simpler:

For each first-level bullet point in the text you're working with, click the point to get an I-beam text cursor; choose Format, Line Spacing; and increase the Before Paragraph space setting to taste. Don't forget that you can use the Preview button to see the effect your changes will have when you click OK.

By increasing the Before Paragraph setting for each first-level bullet point, you're putting a little more "air" between it and the previous text. So the previous second-level bullet points will appear to "belong to" the first-level bullet point above them and not sit too close to the first-level bullet point that follows.

Setting the Default Text Style

If you want to change the style of the text that appears when you type things that aren't the title or the slide body, do the following:
  • Make sure no objects are selected.
  • From the Format menu, select Font. 

Make all the changes that you want there, and click OK. From that point on, new text will be created in that style.

To Set the formatting for the title or slide body objects, go to the Slide Master and format these objects on the master


Selecting Small Objects

Hit the ESCAPE key to insure that nothing is current selected, then repeatedly hit the TAB key, which will toggle you through a selection of all of the objects on a slide. This is useful for selecting very small objects, or objects that are covered up by other larger objects.


Building Presentations for Distribution to Others

If you're making a PowerPoint presentation that you intend to distribute to lots of different people, here are some important things to watch out for that will cause problems:
  1. Stick with the fonts that come installed with Windows; Fancy fonts that appear on your machine will cause problems if everyone else doesn't have them.
  2. Avoid embedding sounds and videos: these will not go from Mac to Windows gracefully, and you have to be very careful about how you insert the files in order to get them to "travel" properly. See the FAQ section for more information on this.
  3. Design the presentation on the lowest version that you think might be in use. For example, if you want the presentation to be able to be viewed by Mac users (who may not have upgraded to the latest version), you will want to design your presentation in PowerPoint 4.0. If you don't have PowerPoint 4, then you'll want to save your presentation in the lowest format you think people will have. For cross-platform distribution, 4.0 is still your safest bet; for Windows-only distribution, save to PowerPoint 95. When you down-rev save, be prepared for some visual changes in your file--the previous version may not support some of the features you've put in, so be sure to sanity check your file on several different machines and versions BEFORE you distribute it!

Creating Pages with Slides and Descriptive Text

If you want to create printable pages that have notes or descriptive text associated each slide, PowerPoint has a feature designed to do just this called Notes Pages, or Speaker's Notes (depending on which version you're using). To view the Notes page for any slide, go to the View menu and select Notes Pages. You will see an image of your slide there, and a placeholder for adding your script, notes, or any other text you wish. You can cut-and-paste text from Word here if you like. To print these pages, bring up the Print dialog, and at the bottom of the dialog where it says "Print What:", select Notes Pages. These pages were originally designed to be used as audience hand outs (with space for the audience to take notes) but were also used by many as speaker's notes: the text block would have the script of the presentation, to be used by the speaker, or for sales binders to educated sales people.


Using Different Backgrounds within one Presentation

Although you only have two background designs automatically supplied with the Masters (counting both the Slide Master and the Title Master), you can have any design you want on any slide. From the Format menu, select Background. Check the box that says "omit background items" and this will make the slide ignore the Slide Master's design. You are now free to add whatever design you want to this slide. If you want to do this to many slides at once, go to the Slide Sorter, select the slides, and then use the Format menu command. Remember though that if you choose to do something like put a photographic background on many of your slides instead of doing it once on the Master, that your file size may increase dramatically.


Making Presentation Files Smaller

Prior to PowerPoint 97, there was no internal file compression code inside of PowerPoint, and files could get pretty big quickly. The most common cause of large files is the addition of large bitmaps. PowerPoint 97 compresses these bitmaps, but previous versions do not. To keep your presentations as small as you can, try reducing the resolution of your bitmaps, which will bring their size down tremendously. For viewing on screen, the bitmaps don't need to be more than 96 dpi; they won't print nicely until they're up around 150 or higher, but the screen always displays at 96 dpi, so if the primary viewing medium is the screen, there's no point in having the bitmaps be a higher resolution. Also, the bitmap format can make a big difference to your file sizes. JPEG and PNG both have good internal compression code. GIF has some, but not as good as JPEG. BMP files are the largest; TIFF files will also be very large.


Editing Drawings

Anything you draw with the pencil tool, you can edit. To get the object into "points mode", either double-click on the object, or select it then hit the Enter key. You will then see points at every vertex, which you can move. You can add points by holding down the shift key and clicking, you can subtract points by holding down the ALT key while clicking, and you can of course just drag points around.


Change the default colors

Each slide has what is referred to as a "color scheme". The scheme colors are the colors that appear in the little pop-ups for different controls. PowerPoint templates come with multiple color schemes built in, which you can change by using the Format/Color Scheme menu command. You can also use this to create your own schemes. Every slide can have a different color scheme. Different color schemes can be used to break out sections of a long presentation.


Using Hyperlinks

When you add a hyperlink to a presentation, you must be careful that the target of the hyperlink is available. If you are giving the presentation offsite using a laptop, all the targets need to be on the laptop as well, unless your laptop is actively connected to the Internet. An alternative is to copy Web site documents you think you will need to your laptop and hyperlink to those documents. The advantage is that you don't have to depend on getting a good connection to the Internet at your offsite location.


Importing Art into the Clip Gallery

You can add all of your own clip art to the Microsoft Clip Gallery. Click Insert Clip Art on the Drawing toolbar. In the Gallery, click Import Clips. From the dialog box, find the graphic file, and double click it. Unfortunately, there is no preview feature to let you view the files. Instead, you can choose Insert>Picture>from File and start searching. Here you will have a preview box. Once you have found the file you want, remember its name and location. Then go back to the Clip Gallery and import it.


Graphics-Editing Capabilities

PowerPoint offers some powerful graphics-editing capabilities. For example, if you have a clip art picture that you could use a portion of, all you have to do is separate what you want from what you don't, and get rid of the portion you don't want. For example, let's say you want to keep only the dog portion of the Veterinary Medicine picture in the Animals category.

First, insert the picture in your slide by clicking the Insert Clip Art button on the Drawing toolbar or by pulling down the Insert menu, pointing at Picture, and choosing Clip Art. Select the category, click the picture, and choose Insert Clip. Back on the slide, right-click the picture, choose Grouping, and select Ungroup. Answer Yes to verify that you want to convert the picture to PowerPoint objects.

Next, click somewhere on the slide away from the picture to deselect every object, then click on an individual object you'd like to get rid of and press Delete. Continue this process until all the unwanted parts have been deleted. Finally, select the remaining parts of the picture, right-click, choose Grouping, and select Group. Doing so will make the remaining picture act as a single unit.


Animate Individual Objects

For the most part, PowerPoint makes you animate individual objects. A few days ago we showed you how to animate individual parts of a clip art picture all at once. The trick there was to make sure each object was selected before you opened the Custom Animation dialog box.

If you've never animated text in a numbered or bulleted list, you might wonder how you do so--do you animate each bullet point individually or do you select all the pieces of text as you did with the clip art picture? Fortunately, you don't have to do either. As long as your list items exist as individual paragraphs inside a single text box, PowerPoint makes it real easy on you.

To animate individual bullet points inside a text object, just right-click inside the bulleted or numbered list and choose Custom Animation. On the Effects tab, choose an effect (something like Fly From Right, Zoom In, Wipe Down, or Peek From Top are good choices here) and, if desired, a sound. You can choose to hide or dim each previous bullet when a new one appears by selecting an option from the After Animation palette. Next, select a Grouped By setting--the default option is 1st Level Paragraphs. This is the most vital setting with numbered or bulleted lists--be sure to preview the current setting to make sure it works the way you want.

Now, click the Order & Timing tab, and determine when the animation should start--when you click the mouse, or immediately after a certain number of seconds. Finally, click OK when your list is set up the way you want it.


How to embed a Sound file

By default, PowerPoint links to sound files greater than 100KB. So, if you embed your sound file into your PowerPoint presentation and send your presentation by email, or play your presentation on another machine, the sound file will not play.

To embed your sound file into PowerPoint:

  1. Choose "Options" from the Tools main menu and then select the General tab.
  2. Set the value next to "Link sounds with file size greater than" to 4000 kb. Now you will be able to embed sound files of up to 2 MB (megabytes) each. You can enter a higher number if you wish to embed larger sound files.
  3. Click OK.
If you have already added sounds to your presentation before following steps 1 -3 above, then you will need to find and delete each of the sound files and re-insert them using Insert, Movies and Sounds, Sound from File....

The sounds you re-insert this way and any sounds (with file sizes less than 4000KB or about 4MB) will be embedded into your PPT file, not linked.

Your PowerPoint presentation (PPT file), will now be larger and the sounds won't get lost when distributing your presentation.


Insert a Macromedia Flash movie into PowerPoint

In order to insert a Macromedia Flash movie into PowerPoint, be sure that Flash Media Player is installed.

  1. Open your presentation.
  2. Select View>> Toolbars>> Control Toolbox. This will open the ActiveX Control Toolbar.
  3. Click the "Other controls" icon, this icon looks like a little hammer and wrench.
  4. A scrolling menu will now appear. Scroll down and select "Shockwave Flash Object".
  5. After selecting "Shockwave Flash Object", your cursor will change to a crosshair. Move the crosshair over the slide. Click and drag to define the area the Flash movie will play in. The Flash movie can take up as much of the screen as you wish.
  6. Right click the box you have just drawn and select "Properties".
  7. At the top of the resulting Flash Object Control properties menu, you will see an entry titled "(Custom)". Click on this field, then click on the (...) button to the right of (Custom).
  8. The resulting menu should now be "Property Pages". Enter the path or URL of the .SWF file that you would like to use.
  9. Click OK in the "Property Pages" window, then save your presentation.
  10. Run the presentation in Presentation view. The Flash content will play just as it does in the Flash player.

Display a PowerPoint presentation on two screens

PowerPoint makes it possible to show your presentation to your audience on one screen while controlling the presentation from another. This is very helpful if you have made lots of notes in your presentation that you do not want your audience to see. In order to use this function, your system must support dual monitors which usually consists of adding a second PCI graphics card. Check with your PC manufacture for further details. Here is how to set it up in PowerPoint:

  1. Open your presentation on one screen.
  2. Select "Set Up Show..." from the Slide Show main menu option.
  3. You will now see the Set Up Show dialog box. From here you can choose to use a projector by clicking the "Projector Wizard" button.
  4. Under "Show on:" you will see an expandable menu that gives you your display options.
  5. From the main menu, select "View", then select "Notes Master".
  6. Now, go back to "Set Up Show..." from your Slide Show main menu options.
  7. You can now select what type of display you wish to view your notes on.

That's it! Now you can show your presentation to your audience while viewing the same presentation along with all of your notes on another.


Play different music across different slides

[PowerPoint 2002, 2003 & 2004]

In this tip, I will show you how you can play different music or sound tracks across different slides in the same PowerPoint presentation.

Here's how:
  1. Go to the Insert main menu option and select "Movies and Sounds".
  2. From here, you can select from any of the listed options:
  • Sound From Clip Organizer
  • Sound From File
  • Play CD Audio Track
  • Record Sound
  1. Locate the Sound file that you would like to play across any number of your slides.
  2. Insert the sound.
  3. Once the sound is inserted, the sound icon will appear in your slide. If you do not want this to appear, just drag if off the slide.
  4. You should receive a prompt asking if you would like the sound to play automatically. Select YES.
  5. From the resulting popup menu, right click the sound's icon and select "Custom Animation". The Custom Animation dialog box will open and your sound file should now be listed.
  6. Click the down pointing arrow to the right of the sound icon to open the drop down menu.
  7. Select "Effect Options", then on the Effects tab, tick the radio button next to "Stop Playing after XXX slides".
  8. Select the number of slides that you would like the music to continue to play through. If you want the sound to continue playing through to the end of the presentation, enter a large number, for example 999.
  9. Select the Timing tab. To play automatically, the timing should be set to "Start After Previous" with a 0 second delay.
  10. Click OK to close the dialog box.
  11. Go to the slide where you want your next music or sound track to begin playing.
  12. Repeat steps 1 - 12 as necessary to add the next music or sound track to your presentation.


A Different PowerPoint Background

PowerPoint makes it possible to change the background on one or more slides so that you are not stuck with the same one throughout your presentation. Here's how:
  1. Navigate to the slide that you would like to change.
  2. Click on Format | Slide Background.
  3. Check the box that says "Omit background graphics from master".
  4. Click Apply.

You can even change multiple slides at one time. Here's how:

  1. Go to the View menu and click on Slide Sorter.
  2. Hold down the CTRL key and click on the slides you would like to change.
  3. Once they are all selected, you can go to the Format menu and repeat the steps to omit the background as outlined above.


Drawing Perfect Circles or Squares in PowerPoint

By holding down the Shift key on your keyboard with the Oval button selected on the Drawing toolbar, you can make a perfect circle while you draw. Draw a perfect square using the same method except that you would use the Rectangle tool on the Drawing toolbar.

If you would like to insert many circles at one time, here's how:
  1. Double-click the Oval button and draw one circle.
  2. Position your insertion point at the place on your slide where you wish to add another circle and click the left mouse button. Continue adding more circles by left clicking your mouse button.
  3. When you are finished adding circles, simply de-select the Oval button on the Drawing toolbar.


Create Effective Presentations

The overall design of your presentation is just as important as the message it sends. As a matter of fact, the better the design, the better the information is received and retained. These tips will give you some basic guidelines to help you design a successful presentation.

Stay away from using all caps in your presentation. Many people find it hard to read words where all the letters are the same size. This also takes up a great deal of horizontal space. If it is a larger font size that you would be trying to achieve by using all caps, then just go ahead and use a larger font size or a different font style instead.

  • Bullet References

Do not use more than 6 bulleted references per slide. More than this makes the slide hard to read and can make for a lengthy discussion on one slide. Bullets should not have more than 6 words. A bullet reference should not be complete sentences, they serve as highlighted points of interest.

  • Title your slides

Be sure that you use descriptive titles on all of your slides. This will grab the audiences interest right a way and also helps to prepare them mentally for the topic at hand. As an example, if I were to just start talking about using a soft damp cloth and wipe gently in one will eventually catch on that I am talking about cleaning your LCD monitor screen. So, to prepare your audience for the topic, title your slide: "Cleaning Your LCD Monitor Screen".

  • Emphasize your important text

Try to use very common fonts in your presentation. The most commonly used are; Arial, Helvetica or Verdana. Be sure that you do not use bold or italics throughout your presentation. Use these to emphasize your text so that your important points stand out.

  • Image file size

Stay away from image formats such as BMP (bitmap) and TIF. Try to use JPG format for your images. JPG is a compressed format that will greatly reduce the file size of your presentation but will keep the high quality image that you require. Also, your image size will affect the file size. So, keep your images to a size that your audience can comfortably see, but won't create a huge file size.

  • Spelling and Grammar

Nothing says "Amateur" more than spelling errors and bad grammar. Carefully double check your slides. Be sure that it reads correctly. The best way I have found to check the readability of a presentation is to read it out loud.


Insert an e-mail address into a PowerPoint slide

If you would like to insert an e-mail address into a PowerPoint slide, here's how:
  1. Open your PowerPoint presentation.
  2. Choose the text, shape or object that you would like to attach an e-mail address to.
  3. Right-click the item and select "Action Settings" from the resulting menu.
  4. The Action Settings dialog box will now appear. Click "Hyperlink to:" and then select "URL..." from the drop-down list.
  5. Enter your e-mail address and subject line for the e-mail into the text boxes. Be sure to use the proper e-mail format (eg:
  6. Click OK.


Hiding Slides in PowerPoint

If you have a particular slide that you would like to use as a reference slide and refer back to it during your presentation. You can hide the slide, make a note of its number or title and recall that slide whenever needed. Here's how:
  1. Open PowerPoint
  2. Go to the Slide Show menu
  3. Ensure that the slide that you would like to hide is the current slide, then click the Hide Slide tool.

You can recall this slide during the presentation by opening the Slide Show Controls menu. From here, click Go, then you can recall the slide by choosing either the "Title" or "Slide Navigator" options.


Reduce Your Presentations File Size

If your presentation is quickly becoming too large in file size and you need to save some space. You can compress the graphics in your presentation with very minimal impact on the quality of your images. Here's how:
  1. Open your presentation and select a slide that contains an image.
  2. Right-click the graphic and choose Format Picture from the resulting menu.
  3. In the Format Picture dialog box, click the Picture tab and then click the Compress button.
  4. In the Compress Pictures dialog box (see Figure #1), select from two options:
    • Selected pictures option:
      When you select this option, you will be able to select any image in your presentation that you would like to compress. To select multiple images in your presentation, hold down the CTRL button on your keyboard and click the images you would like to compress. Once you have all of the images highlighted, right click your mouse over one of them and select "Format Picture".
    • All pictures in document:
      This option will format all of the pictures contained in your presentation.
  5. In the "Change resolution" section, select the Web/Screen option if you are going to project your presentation or put it up on the Web.
  6. In the Options section, place a checkmark in both of the options listed:
    • Compress pictures
    • Delete cropped areas of pictures
  7. Click OK, then OK once again.

Figure #1
Figure 1


Set up and use AutoLayouts

[PowerPoint 2003]

In PowerPoint 2003, there are over two dozen available layouts to select from. Here's how to access them:

Start PowerPoint 2003. Then, on the Format menu, click Slide Layout. You will now see layouts for text and a variety of content.

Another key feature for customizing layouts is the Slide Master. Using this feature gives you the ability to customize the positioning and the appearance of all layouts at once. Or, make a variety of formatting changes one time that will effect all of the slides in your presentation.

To access the Slide Master; go to the View menu, then select Master>> Slide Master. Once in Slide Master view, you can:
  • Reformat the font, bullets, and even the line spacing of text.
  • Alter the size and positioning of AutoLayout areas, which are the areas of the master that control slide layouts for the active presentation.

    Note: These options are also available in the Format menu.


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