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The Strategy Room

Become a Microsoft Office Pro: PowerPoint Ninja

By: Megan Berry

Microsoft PowerPoint Ninja

In our last post we discussed how to harness the power of the Jedi and the path to becoming a Word Master. Now it is time to get out your throwing stars and learn the ways of the PowerPoint Ninja.

Microsoft PowerPoint—officially launched in 1990 with Windows 3.0—has been helping businesses across the world communicate effectively and in style for decades. Most professionals know PowerPoint (PPT) only for its slide-based decks and bullets, but the program is actually a fairly versatile tool that is perfectly integrated into the Microsoft Office Suite.

PowerPoint, the Office Dojo

Microsoft PPT The Office Dojo

Think of PowerPoint as the dojo where all Microsoft Office programs come to demonstrate their skills. Whether it is illustrating the complex data you have gathered in your Excel file or setting the theme throughout all programs, PowerPoint is the ultimate team player. One of the best ways to foster the symbiotic relationship between Microsoft Office programs is the creation of Themes and use of Charts in PowerPoint.

Step One: Creating A Theme

As we mentioned in Part One, if you already have a brand-approved and tested template, make sure you are taking advantage of it. PowerPoint allows users to create or select from preloaded Themes that include a full Color Palette and Font pairing. These Themes are present in Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel, but in order to have a custom Theme in all programs, you have to create them in PPT first, here’s how:

Color Palette
Creating PPT Theme Colors

Go To: Themes Toolbar > Theme Options > Colors > Create Theme Colors…

Enter in your brand’s RGB values (Red, Green, Blue), type in a Theme Name and click Apply to All.

Simple, right?

Fonts
Here’s an instance where Office for Mac and Office for PC differ. Office for PC allows you to embed fonts of your choosing so if you don’t want to stick with the stale universal fonts that are preloaded, go ahead, roam free! As long as you embed the font, anyone who opens the file can view the font properly. However, if like me, you have Office for Mac, you will want to stick to the fonts native to PPT to ensure others have no issue viewing the presentation as it is intended.

Save Your Theme
Once you have selected your Colors and Fonts, save your Theme so you may access it in Microsoft Office, Excel and PPT in the future. You can always add onto the theme or modify as needed.

Step Two: Inserting Charts and Shapes

With a Theme applied, any charts and shapes you import from other Office programs into PowerPoint will adopt the color palette automatically.

Go To: Insert—Chart, Table, Smart Art Graphic—and then see your Theme put to work.

Default Shape
PPT Default Shape

Flat design and subtle shadows have been reigning over heavy drop shadows and beveled edges for a few years, so why not update your PPT shapes to better align? PPT allows you to create a Default Shape to reflect the style you want.

Create your Shape > Format (as needed) > Right-Click > Select Default Shape

Enter the Dragon: Layouts and Master View

Introducing PPT Ninja intermediate to advanced levels. The selection of colors, fonts and shapes is what makes the foundation of a Theme, but there’s actually another layer of design—Slide Layouts. Creating and utilizing slide layouts effectively can increase interest in your presentation, break up dense text and keep your audience engaged. To create custom layouts, you will need to familiarize yourself with the Slide Master.

Step One: Enter Slide Master View

Microsoft PowerPoint Slide Master

Go To: View > Master > Slide Master

The Slide Master is the largest slide at the top left. Any changes to the font, colors, as well as information in the header or footer will be reflected in all the layouts below. When starting out with a new template, I usually make the following changes to the Master:

Microsoft PowerPoint (PPT) Format Text

Format Master Title Style
A bold font around 36 – 44 pt. is a safe bet for use as your header text.

Format Master Text Styles
Anticipate how you would like content formatted and select your “levels” of bullets. Perhaps you want a green square as your first level bullet with 28 pt. text and a blue circle with 20 pt. text as your second level. Don’t forget to modify line spacing and tabs as needed. Go To: Format > Paragraph > Modify Indentation and/or Spacing. I generally like to use 1.1 pt. line spacing and 6 pt. space before and 12 pt. of space after if you can accommodate.

Footer Content
If you plan on using a footer in your presentation deck, take the time to format the font, color and content located at the bottom of the slide. For instance, we like putting “Stanton Communications, Inc.” at the bottom of every slide along with the page number.

Remember, any changes you make on the Slide Master will be reflected in ALL the subsequent layouts, so if you would like to include a design element only on one page, hold off putting it into the Slide Master.

You may want to pull from multiple slide master templates, in that case, add a New Master and follow the same steps above.

Step Two: Custom Layouts in Slide Master

Microsoft PowerPoint Custom Slide Layouts

Like the ninja, a PowerPoint presentation template needs to be versatile. Depending on the final content, your presentation may need 3 layouts or 20, so having a deep bench to pull from is not a bad idea. This is where custom Layouts in Slide Master come into play. Using the Slide Master as the foundation for text formatting and content placeholders, Custom Layouts provide an additional design capability. Below is a list of the bare minimum layouts I create for a new template:

  • (2) Title Slides with replaceable photos for use on first and last slides.
  • (1 – 2) simple Section Slides.
  • (1 – 2) accent or Splash Slides with replaceable photos or subtle patterned background.

You can always add or modify a layout if the need arises, but these are the basic slides you will need to get started.

Step Three: Insert Content and Polish

If you have completed all the steps above, congratulations ninjas, your template is ready for content. Just as we mentioned in Part 1, be sure to import content without any preexisting styles by using Paste Special > Unformatted Text or clear formatting as you would in Word.

Polish and revise the template if you come across any issues and check for formatting consistency. Good luck ninjas.


Have any other PPT tips you’d like to share? Leave us a note or tweet us at @StantonComm. Also, be sure to check out Microsoft Office’s free training and tutorials if you are curious about learning other Office tips and free PowerPoint templates for your next project.




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