Three helpful tips to use when creating and editing PowerPoint slides; Issue #202 January 26, 2010

PowerPoint Tip: Little tips that make a big difference

It is usually the little things in life that can make the biggest difference. Like a small change to our routine can help us gain more time for priorities such as family. And when using PowerPoint, sometimes the small tips make the biggest impact. When I was consulting with a CEO and her assistant recently, we covered some major ways to upgrade the visuals they were using. In addition to the makeovers that they will be incorporating, they found a few of the small tips I shared particularly useful. These tips are ways to use PowerPoint that, once you discover them, you see how valuable they will be to you. So today I am going to share the three tips that they found the most useful.

The first tip is about how to preview your slide show without going into full Slide Show mode. To enter Slide Show mode, you can press the F5 key to start at slide 1 or you can hold the Shift key down while pressing the F5 key to start from the current slide. Both useful tips, but not the one that I want to focus on. If you want to preview your slide show from the current slide in a small preview window in the top right hand corner of your screen, hold the Ctrl key down and click on the Slide Show button at the bottom of the PowerPoint window (It looks like a screen and in PowerPoint 2003 it is in the lower left corner; in PowerPoint 2007 & 2010 it is in the lower right corner). You will be able to run your slide show in this preview window and see what it will look like. When you are done, press Escape as usual to end the slide show. My clients found this useful to do quick previews as they were working on adding animation effects. It allowed them to quickly see if they had it looking the way they wanted.

The second tip allows you to make a logo look better on your slide. This organization has a template that has a color in the background. Not a problem there. Until you place their logo on, which has a white box around it. Why does it have a white box? Because it is a JPEG file. The common JPEG file format cannot support transparency, so it gives a white background where there isn’t anything in the picture. Not a problem when you have a photograph because it takes up the whole frame. But logos are not usually perfectly rectangular, so it adds the white around it to fill the frame. PowerPoint has a tool that allows you to set which color in an image you want to be transparent. It drops out that color and you see the background through, making the logo look like it is perfectly floating on the background. In PowerPoint 2003 it is on the Picture toolbar and in PowerPoint 2007 it is in the Recolor options on the Picture Format tab. It is not a perfect tool, but for many logos it works really well, as it did for this client.

The final tip was how to break a line without making it look like a new paragraph. There are times when in a title or a text box you want some words to move to the next line. Maybe it helps the text look balanced or you keep words of a phrase together. You might be tempted to just hit Enter, but you may not get the result you want. Pressing Enter adds a paragraph mark, which can cause the line spacing to look odd because the distance between the two lines is too large. Instead, hold the Shift key and press Enter. This adds a line break mark, which keeps the line spacing normal. It may not appear that the difference is much on your laptop screen, but when projected large on a big screen, the difference is noticeable and it causes the audience to wonder what went wrong because it looks odd.

Three small tips, but they can make a big impact when you are creating persuasive PowerPoint visuals.