Three techniques to save time creating or editing PowerPoint slides; Issue #189 July 14, 2009

PowerPoint Tip: Time savers when editing slides

We all want to be as efficient as possible, so today’s tip shows you three ways I use to save time when creating and editing my workshop and conference PowerPoint slides. They might be new ways to use features that you already know or features you didn’t know PowerPoint had. Read, enjoy and use them to create your next presentation in less time.

Format Painter – This tool allows you to format a series of objects, whether they are text boxes or shapes, using the same attributes such as font face, font size, fill color and a number of other attributes. Here’s how it works. Format one of the objects exactly how you want it to look. Select this object. Click on the Format Painter toolbar button that looks like a paintbrush. It is on the default Standard toolbar in PowerPoint 2003 and on the Home ribbon in PowerPoint 2007. Then, to apply this format to another object, click on that object, even if it is on another slide. If you have a lot of items to reformat, double-click on the Format Painter toolbar button after selecting the properly formatted item and then you can click on each object to apply the formatting; press Esc to exit format painter mode. When you have to format a series of shapes or text boxes with the same attributes, this saves a lot of time.

Copy objects and their animation – This is a tip that Julie Terberg shared at PowerPoint Live last year (P.S. If you are thinking of attending the only conference for PowerPoint users in the world, check out their great “bring a colleague” special running over the summer at Julie showed us that a quick way to animate similar shapes or text on a slide is to first draw and animate the first shape. Then, copy and paste that shape. The shape will not only have the same colors and other attributes, but it will have the same animation as well. If you are building a diagram with many similar shapes that you want to build one-by-one when presenting, this tip can save you a lot of time.

Re-use instead of Re-creating – If you have created a similar slide in the past to one you want to use in this presentation, just copy and paste it from the previous presentation. This tip is taken to the next level when you plan the re-use in advance by creating a slide library. A slide library is a single PowerPoint file that has the common slides that make up usually 70-80% of the slides in most of your presentations. When you want to build a new presentation, you start by copying the slides you need from your library file and then all you need to do is add in those slides specific to this presentation. I create all of my workshop and conference presentation files this way and it has saved me countless hours over the years. A slide library also allows the key messages to be presented consistently, especially when multiple presenters are using the same library. We are all asked to do more with less these days, so every efficiency we can use helps. If you are looking for just-in-time training on some key PowerPoint techniques, check out my short how-to videos at or my longer training videos at These videos are an efficient way to learn because you can download them when you need to know that skill, each video is focused on only one area, and you can watch them again as a refresher.