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Posts Tagged ‘Powerpoint’

Templates, design themes, and master slides explained

November 11, 2013 Leave a comment

Even longtime Powerpoint users are often baffled by design themes, templates, masters, and layouts: What they are, how they work, and the ways in which they are related. So let me try and explain.

The design theme is a utility file saved in the working folders for Microsoft Office. It controls background graphics, color palette and the font hierarchy for any presentation based on it.

The template is a vehicle for the theme and master slides. This file is also stored in the working folders with the file extension “.potx.” Powerpoint also permits the user to save a copy in any location they choose. Opening a .potx file from any location will initiate a fresh Powerpoint file (a .pptx) that defaults to the properties designated in the design theme, with all the customized layouts in the template available.

The reason opening a template actually gives you a new presentation based on the template and not the template itself is so that the user does not unintentionally modify the template, which would affect any existing presentations based on it. To change the actual template, you must perform a save-as and choose the .potx format from the menu options.

Masters and layouts

The master slide controls the default properties and locations of the basic elements of each slide (title, body, footer, page number). The layouts are subordinate to the master slide and they represent variations on the master. Ideally, you have a layout not only for the basic title-and-content slide, but also for every instance where you deviate from the master scheme. These alternate layouts may be applied by using the Layout drop-down menu under the Home tab. This menu displays thumbnail images of the available layouts, making it fairly easy to determine the appropriate one.

By using the layouts already embedded in the template, you ensure that alterations you may need to make to the design properties of the entire presentation need only be made on the master and layout slides, saving you the trouble of repeating those changes on each active slide. If you need to shrink the font in the title and move it to the left, you do this once, on the master slide, and that change will cascade through every slide in your deck.

On the other hand, ignoring the masters and layouts leaves you with unique content on every slide, making global changes impossible.

If you find the layout options do not cover a slide you need to build, design the custom slide in the Master view as a new layout and then apply it to an active slide before flowing in your content. This way, the layout can be used again and changes made to it will cascade on all active slides it applies to.

A presentation that makes good use of masters and layouts may be completely reformatted with a couple of clicks, should you ever need to apply a different theme (or template).

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Powerpoint: Create and save a color palette

November 3, 2013 Leave a comment

You can customize the clickable color selections available in any Powerpoint file by building and saving a new color palette.

To do this, you will need the RGB values for each of your preferred colors. If they are set out in a style guide already, refer to that. If not, you will need to obtain them from an older presentation or a web site. If you have a presentation that uses the desired colors, you can obtain the RGB values using this method:

  1. Select a graphic element that uses one of these colors as a fill
  2. Click the down arrow on the paint bucket button, and click “More Colors”
  3. From the options at the top of the menu that opened, choose the icon showing two sliders
  4. Record the figures in each box next to the sliders for Red, Green and Blue.

If you must refer to a web site or a non-Office document for a desired color (or colors), call up that site or document and perform a screen capture when the color (or colors) you need is (or are) displayed. Then, paste from your clipboard into your presentation. Next, use the shape tool to draw a rectangle on the slide next to the screen cap. Select the rectangle and click on the small down-arrow next to the paint bucket tool. Select “More Colors.” You will see a magnifying glass on the resulting menu: Click it and move the cursor (now a magnifying glass with crosshairs) over the desired color and click. The sliders in the color window will have changed to reflect the color you just picked up from the screen cap. Record them and repeat this process for any additional colors you wish to use.

You now have the RGB values for a half-dozen colors or so, right? Then you are ready to save your color palette. Here’s how…

  • Under the “Themes” tab, choose “Theme Options,” then “Colors,” then click “Create Theme Colors”
  • You will see a menu displaying 12 colors
  • Customize any of these colors by clicking on the box next to the label and then clicking “Change Color”
  • In the resulting menu, you can punch in your RGB values and then click “OK” to lock them in
  • When you have altered as many of these colors as you wish, enter a unique title in the “Name” box and click “Apply to All.”

This will activate the palette in your presentation, making your custom colors available in the drop-down menu for fonts, fills, outlines, etc. It also saves the palette in the system files for use in future projects. If you save and send the presentation with your new palette activated, it will travel with the file and your recipient may save it on their hard drive as well.

 

Powerpoint Integration: Combining Presentations with Differing Designs

March 21, 2011 Leave a comment

There is no fool-proof way (that we know of) to combine presentations with different design schemes into one cohesive presentation in Powerpoint, but you can do the heavy lifting in six easy steps.

You should first get the design in place. Perhaps one of the PPT files already has the right background, colors, and fonts in place: If that is true…

  1. Open that file, save it under a new name, and put it into ‘slide sorter’ mode by clicking on ‘View’ and ‘Slide Sorter’
  2. Open the other file and put that one into slide sorter mode
  3. Click on one of the thumbnails and then hit CTL-A to select all of them and CTL-C to copy
  4. Go back to the other file (the one that has the right design) and click on the last thumbnail
  5. Press CTL-V to paste the slides. A clipboard icon will appear: click on it and choose ‘Use Destination Theme.’ This will apply the desired design rules to the slides you’re pasting in.
  6. Arrange the slides in the proper order using slide sorter mode.
  7. Save.

Repeat that process on any other files you wish to integrate and save again.

You now must go through the presentation, from start to finish, making adjustments as needed. The slides you pasted in may have unwanted line breaks or improper colors. Text you’ve bolded or italicized may have reverted to plain text. Keep the original files open so you can refer to those as you correct the new ones.

If neither of the original presentations have a design template you’re happy with, you want to start by creating a new file into which you’ll paste the contents of the originals. Press CTL-N and choose a design scheme from the gallery that opens

You could also start with a plain slide and design the template yourself from scratch by altering the master slides. However, if you’re unfamiliar with master slides, this isn’t the way to go.

From One Slide to Any Other in Two Clicks

February 11, 2010 Leave a comment

Powerpoint and Keynote presentations are usually built to play straight through from beginning to end, without backing up, skipping forward, or viewing slides out of sequence. This kind of presentation can act like a script for the meeting. The thing about meetings, however, is that they don’t typically adhere to a script. Any group of people are likely to have questions or observations that will lead the meeting in an unexpected direction.

What good is a linear presentation when that happens? Not much.

You can avoid the situation where the presenter either leaves a slide on the screen for several minutes while everyone in the room talks about something else, or has to waste time trying to skip forward to another slide one-by-one and then go back. The way to do it is to create an index slide.

An index slide displays a hyperlinked thumbnail of every slide in your deck. We usually make the first slide the index and hide or skip it so it doesn’t display during the presentation until the presenter navigates to it by clicking a hyperlinked icon. It becomes the “home” slide and a small semi-transparent “home” icon is linked to this slide and pasted onto the master so it appears on each slide in the deck.

Because you can navigate to the home slide from anywhere in the presentation, and from there to any other specific slide in the presentation, no two slides are ever separated by more than two clicks. Presenters and audiences tend to appreciate the flexibility this gives them to depart from the script.

Setting up an index slide is usually the last thing the developer will do before handing the presentation off to the presenter. The quickest way to generate the thumbnails is to follow this procedure:

  1. Display the “light table” or “slide sorter,” view (which shows all or at least many of the slides in the presentation), and do a screenshot
  2. Paste the screenshot
  3. Duplicate it once for each slide shown
  4. Align the screenshots along the top and left edges
  5. Put in “guide lines” that run along the edges of all the slides shown on the screenshot (top and bottom, right and left)
  6. Starting at the top, and going left-to-right, use the “crop” tool on each screenshot to isolate each slide in the sequence

When this is done, the thumbnails may be arranged any way you like on the index slide. It is usually helpful to label them with slide titles or section titles. Then hyperlink each thumbnail to its corresponding slide.

In earlier versions of Powerpoint, we had to save the index slide for last because any additional or deleted slides or any changes in slide order meant the hyperlinked thumbnails would link to the wrong slides. Luckily, the current versions of Powerpoint and Keynote are advanced enough that the hyperlinks will be automatically updated when the slide order is changed.

[Gary Reichardt]

Mac Users: Put a Screencap on Your Clipboard

January 19, 2010 Leave a comment

Hold down ‘shift,’ ‘control,’ and ‘command,’ then press ‘3.’

The result is the same as pressing ‘Print Screen’ on a PC: An image of the entire screen has been copied to the clipboard, meaning you can paste the image into another application by hitting ‘command-v’ or selecting ‘Edit and Paste’ from the top menu.

In Keynote and Powerpoint for Mac, you can now mask the image to isolate a portion of the screen. The ‘Alpha’ tool will work as well, so you can make certain areas transparent. Unfortunately, you cannot use ‘Adjust Image’ to change the brightness, contrast, or color levels.

For capturing logos and stills, however, this can be much faster and simpler than using Grab, and it will not clutter your desktop with old screencaps.

We first learned about this from wlug.com.

[Gary Reichardt]

Audio and Video: Linking, Embedding, and REALLY embedding

January 14, 2010 1 comment

Getting video to play in a Powerpoint presentation is easy enough if you can build the presentation on the system from which you will be projecting, but if you have to transfer the file to another computer, things usually go wrong.

If you are working on a deck with audio or video and it is to be delivered in an environment with reliable high-speed internet access, the best thing to do is to store your audio and video files online and link to them from Powerpoint. So long as the computer is online, the files will play.

If you will not have or cannot count on internet access when presenting, you will have more work to do. Unfortunately, if you incorporate video or audio in a presentation that must move to another computer, the video or sound file WILL NOT WORK on the new system. Embedding the file and packaging the source files with the presentation in a folder to transfer is important, but it will not save you the trouble of having to re-insert the video or audio files into the presentation on the new system.

We don’t know why this happens and have not yet discovered a good way to prevent it. There’s no reliable way around it: You (or someone else) will have to repeat the process for every video clip and soundbyte in the presentation. If this task will be left up to someone other than yourself, you’ll want to send them fool-proof instructions for doing it.

There are two ways to incorporate movies and audio in a Powerpoint file: The easy way and the hard way. The easy way should work, but if it doesn’t the hard way will. The easy way is known as “embedding,” and the hard way is known (oddly) as “really embedding.” The major difference is that “embed”-ded videos will simply play, while “really embed”-ded files will display a control panel during playback, allowing you to pause, rewind, fast-forward, restart, or skip it.

We suggest simply embedding (the easy way) be your default. If the presenter specifically asks for playback control, give them the “real” embedding. Otherwise, it’s best to keep it simple and minimize the number of clicks necessary to get through the presentation.

In any case, here are the instructions for both methods of embedding audio and video. Remember to test each file (as well as the presentation as a whole) exhaustively: Multimedia files often fail to play when it matters most; the only way to prevent this embarrassing situation is to test them each time you make a change.

Embedding (the easy way)

Navigate to the appropriate slide.

  1. Save the presentation
  2. Click on Insert in the menu bar at the top of your screen and choose Movies and Sounds, then chooseMovie from File or Sound from File.
  3. Select the appropriate file from the new window and click OK.
  4. You must decide if the file should play automatically in the presentation or only if it is clicked.
  5. Move or resize the resulting image in any way you like.
  6. Right-click on the image and choose Edit Movie (or Sound) Object to make the file play continuously in a loop, or to have the movie play full-screen.
  7. Save the presentation.

“Really” Embedding (the hard way)

  1. Save the presentation
  2. Click on View in the menu bar at the top of your screen and choose Toolbars, then choose Control Toolbox.
  3. Click on More Controls, the hammer and wrench icon, then scroll down and click on Windows Media Player.
  4. Use the cursor to draw a box on your slide, which will contain the video or audio file and its control buttons.
  5. Right-click on the media player and choose Properties.
  6. Click on the empty box next to Custom. This will open a new window.
  7. Navigate to and then select your video and click Open.
  8. Un-check the Auto Start box.
  9. Click OK to close the properties window.
  10. Right-click on the image and choose Edit Movie (or Sound) Object to make the file play continuously in a loop, or to have the movie play full-screen.
  11. The video will now play in presentation mode and control buttons will appear.

Feel free to copy these instructions and share them with everyone else who may have to re-install the multimedia files or troubleshoot the presentation.

[Gary Reichardt]

Choosing Fonts for Powerpoint and Keynote Presentations

December 2, 2009 1 comment

To prevent a common problem associated with presentation development in Keynote or Powerpoint, it helps to limit your font usage to the most commonly used fonts in the PC or Macintosh universe.

Exporting a deck to another computer will often result in changes to the way your slides look. These changes are often harmless or can be easily fixed, but if the second computer lacks one or more of the fonts used in building the presentation, it will use other fonts in their place, which can yield unpredictable results. The replacement font can wreak havoc on text boxes and especially tables and shapes that contain text.

To remedy this, the developer will either have to change the fonts used in the original file to match those already installed on the second computer, or download and install the missing font or fonts on the second computer. The first option can take a lot of work; the second can be time-consuming.

To make matters worse, there could always be a need to present the final deck from a third computer that you won’t have access to until the day the presentation is to be delivered.

Smart presentation developers avoid these by making sure the fonts they wish to use are already installed on the presenter’s system. If this isn’t possible, it’s best to limit font choices to those installed on 95% or more of PCs and Macs worldwide.

Windows: Microsoft Sans Serif, Verdana, Tahoma, Courier New, Arial, Trebuchet MS, Comic Sans MS, Lucida Console, Arial Black, Impact, Georgia, Times New Roman, Lucida Sans Unicode, Palatino Linotype, Franklin Gothic Medium, and Sylfaen.

Macintosh: Helvetica, Monaco, Courier, Geneva, Lucida Grande, Arial, and Verdana.

More information is available at CodeStyle.

[Gary Reichardt]