Issue #54 March 16, 2004

1. Split text across slides in PowerPoint

One of the biggest problems identified in the “What Annoys People About Bad PowerPoint” survey was too much text on a slide. I suggest you observe the six by six guideline, which states that there should be no more than six words in each bullet point and no more than six bullet points per slide. This guideline ensures that the text will be large enough to read when projected. PowerPoint has a feature that can help you keep a reasonable amount of text on each slide. If you find that you have been typing bullet points on a slide and suddenly realize that there is too much on the slide, there is a way that PowerPoint can automatically split the text into two slides. If you click inside the area of the text, as if you were going to edit it, the AutoFit Options button will appear, usually on the lower left side of the text box. The AutoFit Options button looks like two horizontal lines with an arrow above and below pointing towards the two lines. When you click on the AutoFit Options button, you will see a sub-menu. One of the options on this sub-menu is Split Text Between Two Slides. Click on this option and PowerPoint will split the text you have typed into two slides automatically. It tries to split the text evenly between the two slides so that each slide can have as large a font as possible. This is also useful if you have created your presentation outline using the Outline view of PowerPoint and when you then look at the slide view you realize that there is too much text on the slide. Keep this option in mind to help you avoid one of the problems that annoy people about PowerPoint slides.

2. Setting Tab Leading in Word

I have been working on four new e-books (watch for a special announcement in the next few weeks!) and it reminded me of a neat feature in Word that allows you to create a Table of Contents with dots that go from the text to the page number, like this: Using Data Projectors…………………….16 This makes your Table of Contents much easier to follow because people don’t have to try to follow the invisible line from the text over to the page number and hope they get the right page number. How can you do this? It is actually quite easy in Word. It involves setting a tab on the page that has this special leading character. Here’s how it is done. In Word, select the line you want to create this tab on. Click on the Format menu and click on the Tabs menu item. You will see the Tabs dialog box. In the Tab Stop Position field enter where you want the page number column to be – I usually set it to be about 6 inches or so. Then select the tab to have Right alignment and to have a Leader of the dots. Then you can click the OK button. To use the new tab you have set, simply type the text for the section and press the Tab key. Word will automatically enter as many leading dots as required and then you can type the page number and they will always be right aligned with each other at the position you specified. You can experiment with the other tab options in the Tabs dialog box to see what other uses you can make of the ability to have a character leading a tab.

3. Useful Resource – MS Office Tips

This useful resource is one I told you about last year, but since there are so many new subscribers who haven’t heard about it, I thought I’d repeat it today. publishes a newsletter about MS Office tips and advice twice a week (Tuesday and Thursday). What I like about this newsletter is that the tips are always well explained and they are useful ideas, not some esoteric feature you will never use. I highly recommend you subscribe to it at: