Must-Know Tips for Using Microsoft Powerpoint
Must-Know Tips for Using Microsoft Powerpoint
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Must-Know Tips for Using Microsoft Powerpoint

Being able to communicate your ideas to anyone, especially nontechnical folks within your organization, is crucial. Microsoft PowerPoint allows you to do just that and a lot more. Discover the full array of tips and tricks with the help of CBT Nuggets trainer Simona Millham. And be sure to check out her Microsoft PowerPoint course at CBT Nuggets.

Microsoft Powerpoint Tech Tips

  • The reading view. I find this useful when I want to preview a slide and its animations without launching a full Slide Show. The reason for this is because I use two monitors at my desk. If I run the actual show, it launches into Presenter View across both screens. As much as I love Presenter View, Reading View is much better when previewing a presentation. Find it on your View tab, or look for the little open book button at the bottom of the screen.
  • Visit the Office Add-in Store from your Insert tab and find the free Slice Timer Add-in. It’s not particularly beautiful but is quite handy. I particularly like the way the color changes as time progresses so that my trainees can see at a glance when they need to hurry up with their activity!
  • Custom Shows are a great way of using a subset of your slides for a particular audience without creating a separate file. It’s much easier than having to keep multiple versions of the same presentation up to date. Find the Custom Slide Show option on the Slide Show tab.

  • Did you know you can have your text point size 10.2? Or 14.6? Yes, you can specify to a tenth of a point. Just type directly into the Font Size box.
  • If you need to arrange text in columns, right-click on the text, choose Format Shape, and track down the Text Box options in the task pane on the right-hand side where you’ll see a Columns button. Disclaimer: I’m not promoting the use of acres of text on PowerPoint slides, but I realise that some of you use PowerPoint for things other than presentations.
  • Bullet too close to the text? If you have your ruler showing (turn it on from the View tab) you can click and drag the little triangles to adjust the spacing between bullets and text. For even more control, hold down your CTRL key while you do it.
  • Do you find that every time you add a text box you are always changing the spacing, the color, or whatever to the same thing? Then it might be worth setting the default text box for that presentation. Create the perfect text box, right-click on the edge of it, and choose Set as Default Text Box.

  • Have you ever laboriously deleted speaker notes one slide at a time? Use the Document Inspector (File, Info, Check for Issues, Inspect Document) to remove all speaker notes in one go.
  • If you need some random text in PowerPoint then type =rand() or =lorem().
  • I’m sure you’re quite capable of copying and pasting slides from one presentation to another. A neater way of doing this is with the Reuse Slides feature. Find it by clicking the bottom half of the New Slide button on the Home tab.

Graphic & Drawing Tips

  • Need to make a white logo black or vice versa? Click the graphic go to the Picture Tools ribbon tab, click the Corrections button, and choose Picture Correction Options at the bottom. This opens up the Format Picture pane at the right where you can slide the brightness down to the left to make a white logo black, or up to the right to make a black logo white.
  • Struggling to find a tool that creates a word cloud that you like? Create it manually in PowerPoint and you can make it look exactly the way you want it to. When you’re happy with it, select the lot and right-click to Save as Picture to use wherever you need it. Don’t forget to save the PowerPoint file too in case of future edits.
  • Want to draw lots of the same shape one after the other? Right-click on the shape in the gallery and choose Lock Drawing Mode.
  • Change the shape of shapes by right-clicking on a shape and choosing Edit Points. Right-click again on the edge of the shape while in this mode for more options.

Video Tips

  • Rather marvelously, PowerPoint allows you to trim videos, which is perfect if you only want to use 36 seconds of a seven-minute video. But my tip is this: Use the Compress Media option in the File menu to remove the six minutes and 24 seconds of the video you don’t need — and dramatically reduce your file size.

  • To create a video of your presentation, record voice narrations on a slide-by-slide basis. Then go to the File menu, choose Export, and Create a Video. This is much easier than having to record it all in one take!
  • By default, when you insert a video, it is embedded rather than linked. This is useful for most of us, but it can make file sizes enormous. If you prefer, click the down arrow next to Insert when you select your video and choose a link instead. Make sure you have the source file available when you run your PowerPoint show though.
  • In the past I’ve always used a third-party screen recording tool, but did you know that in PowerPoint 2013 and 2016, you can record your screen activity and audio? Find it on the Insert ribbon tab — and be sure to remember the rather obscure keyboard combination of WINDOWS+SHIFT+Q to finish recording. Right-click to save the media file if you need to use it outside of PowerPoint.
  • If you add bookmarks to your videos, you can easily jump to key places in the video during your presentation. Even better, you can use animation effects to have text or other objects appear on the slide at those points. Choose the required animation effect and then select the required bookmark from the Trigger button.
  • If you use the heading styles in Word, you can quickly create the skeleton of a PowerPoint presentation from the Word document. In PowerPoint, click the bottom half of the New Slide button, choose Slides from Outline, and select the Word file. Any Heading 1 styles will be slide titles, and Heading 2 styles will be bullets. OK, if that didn’t make sense, see it in action.
  • To vertically align text so that it sits at the top, middle, or bottom of a text box, use the Align Text button.

Animation Tips

  • Give your “Fly-In” animations a bit of extra polish. I particularly like adding a little bounce at the end! Apply the Fly-In animation effect to an object, and show the Animation Pane (on the Animation tab) from which you can choose Effect Options for the required item.
  • Want to have a bit of fun animating 3D models? Add one from the Insert ribbon tab, and then try out the animation effects available for it on the Animations tab. Is it just me or is this REALLY cool?!

Keyboard & Mouse Shortcuts

  • Press ALT+F5 to practice with Presenter View on a single monitor.
  • If you want to quickly duplicate a picture or shape in PowerPoint, select the item and press CTRL+D. If you then move the shape and press CTRL+D again as many times as you like.
  • Press CTRL+M to insert a new slide of the same layout as the active slide.
  • In PowerPoint 2016, you can quickly change the order of your slides in the thumbnails list at the left of the screen. Press the CTRL key with the up or down arrow.
  • Press CTRL+ENTER to move from the Title text placeholder to the Bulleted List text placeholder … and then press CTRL+ENTER again to create another slide. It’s a great way of hammering out the outline of a presentation if you’re fast on the keyboard!
  • You might know that F5 starts the Slide Show from the first slide. But did you know that SHIFT+F5 starts at the current slide?

  • Did you know that you can click and hold your left and right mouse buttons together for two seconds to return to the first slide?
  • PowerPoint guides, found on the View tab, are useful for lining things up. But did you know you can change their colour or add extra ones? Show your guides and right-click on one to see the options.
  • When you click and drag a Guide, which can be found on the View ribbon tab, you see a measurement telling you how far from the center point of the slide the Guide is. If you actually want to see the measurement from the starting position of the Guide, hold down your SHIFT key while you click and drag.

Learn more

For more tips like this, follow Simona on LinkedIn. Start a free week with CBT Nuggets to check out Simona’s training for popular tools like Microsoft Word and Skype for Business.

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