Making your PowerPoint 2007 presentation easy to create, edit, and manage

Advanced Microsoft Office Documents 2007 Edition Inside Out cover image

This article was excerpted from Advanced Microsoft Office Documents 2007 Edition Inside Out by Stephanie Krieger. Visit Microsoft Learning to buy this book and CD set

In this article


Effective Document Setup


The secret to Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2007 presentations that are easy to create, edit, and manage is this: PowerPoint is easy. Really, that’s it. PowerPoint provides the tools to make your work simple and straightforward. Just use the available tools, and the time you spend in PowerPoint will be downright pleasant — quick, simple, and painless — and the presentations you create may be far better than you expect.

But, there’s a catch (c’mon, you knew there would be). If you don’t use the available features — if you insist on using workarounds and overcomplicated solutions rather than learning to use the tools that PowerPoint benevolently provides — it just might smite your presentation. It may even seem as if PowerPoint is laughing while your work goes up in smoke.

So, my advice is, don’t tempt it. Even with its shiny new capabilities, PowerPoint is set in its ways. Use the features the way they’re designed to be used, and you and your presentation will get along swimmingly. So, how do you bow to the will of PowerPoint?

First and foremost, your document should only live in PowerPoint when it’s going to be a slide presentation, or a similar document type that requires the use of masters and layouts. If you need a lot of text on many pages (such as for a report), or need many complex pages with text and graphics (such as a print pitch book), your document will almost certainly be easier to create in Microsoft Office Word 2007. Just create the graphics for that document in PowerPoint (and other programs, as applicable). See Chapter 4, “Building Easy-to-Manage, Robust Documents,” and Chapter 12, “Planning Your Documents,” for more on creating hearty and great-looking complex Word documents.

As a rule of thumb, I suggest that you use PowerPoint as a home for your document when you can answer yes to at least one of these questions.

  1. Will the document be delivered as an on-screen presentation?

  2. Do you need to use slide masters for any purpose other than what you can do with paragraph styles and the header\footer layer in a Word document?

  3. Do you need to use slide layouts for any type of page layout that you can’t accomplish with paragraph formatting or tables in a Word document?

Once you determine that your document belongs in PowerPoint, consider the following.

  • With few exceptions, if the slide layout you’re using doesn’t fit the layout you need, don’t use that layout. Either customize a layout or, for single-use layouts, use the Blank or Title Only slide layouts and do your own thing.

    However, the layouts are there for a reason and can substantially reduce your work. What’s more, a presentation full of slides that don’t use layouts with placeholders is sure to be a struggle, at best — so, please don’t misinterpret the preceding bulleted paragraph as instructing you to disregard layouts.

  • Use Theme-ready elements, including colors, fonts, and slide backgrounds, unless you intentionally want specific formatting to remain even if the Theme changes.

  • Use slide masters. If you have to place the same item on more than one slide, ask yourself whether you could use a master instead (or, in PowerPoint 2007, a slide layout) to accomplish what you need in one step rather than many.

  • Use the Align, Distribute, and Order tools (addressed in Chapter 18) to position content precisely. Nudging and guesswork defeats the purpose of using PowerPoint and will never give you the best results. When you use the available drawing tools, it takes almost no time to positioning content perfectly.

  • Watch file size carefully. PowerPoint provides features to help you minimize file size even when you need a wealth of graphics in your presentation, such as the ability to compress pictures or to paste pictures in a variety of formats (using Paste Special). One of the most common causes of PowerPoint document corruption is bloated file size. See Chapter 7, “Managing Graphics,” for information about using Microsoft Windows Paint or Microsoft Office Picture Manager to convert pictures to other formats to reduce file size without losing quality. Also, see Chapter 18 for information on working with pictures in PowerPoint.

  • If a task feels like a lot of work, stop doing it. Take a moment to consider if there’s a way to make it easier, because there probably is. And, because making it easier means using the right tool for the task, it’s also likely to improve your results.

    For example, pay attention to AutoCorrect actions (such as automatically fitting text to a placeholder), and set your defaults to the result you most often want (such as turning off AutoFit for body text). You have many options for working effectively with AutoFit, so don’t continually fight with it — you won’t win. For help with this example, see the Troubleshooting tip later in this chapter titled “What can I do to stop font size from automatically changing?”

    If you’re thinking that the preceding list isn’t much help if you don’t know whether you’re using the referenced features effectively, you’re absolutely right. But the information you need to answer those questions is all here, so read on.

Effective Document Setup

It’s common to forget that a PowerPoint presentation is a document, but that it is. So, understanding the elements that can appear on the page, and how a given element may appear under different circumstances (such as on screen or in print), can simplify your work considerably.

In this section, we’ll look at how slide layout and page setup can affect your presentation.

Control the Layout — Don’t Let It Control You

This heading refers to the way that placeholders behave in slide layouts. The idea behind placeholders (such as the title and subtitle placeholders on a title slide) is to provide the size and positioning (and in some cases, the formatting) for slide content so that all you have to do is drop the content into place.

The problem that arises is that people often use slide layouts that don’t really fit the content or layout they need, and they adjust the size or formatting of placeholders on individual slides. Of course, the entire purpose of placeholders is to enable you to keep layout and formatting consistent. So, when the layout is reset, all of your customizations are lost — such as the size and positioning of objects, and formatting of text.

Working with placeholders is much easier in the 2007 release, since you can now customize slide layouts and create your own to get exactly the size and position you need for any placeholder. The important thing is to use the capability that’s provided and take the extra step to go into the slide layout to make your change, rather than making the change on each individual slide. Learn when to customize the master versus the individual layout, and how to customize layouts, in the section of this chapter titled “Working with Masters, Layouts, and Designs.”

Of course, there are exceptions to what can be set up on the slide layout or in the slide master. When you need custom formatting, such as direct font formatting on just a few words in a text placeholder or a border around a content placeholder, how can you avoid losing those customizations? The answer used to be that you needed to avoid reapplying the layout, but that’s no longer true.

When you need to reset a placeholder position on a slide, you can use either the new Reset option or reapply the active layout from the Layout gallery. Reset behaves the way that reapplying a layout used to behave — that is, all customizations are lost and the slide is reset to use only the positioning and formatting that appear on the slide layout. However, if you instead simply reselect the active layout (just click the thumbnail for the layout you need in the Layout gallery), your placeholders return to their prescribed size and position, and all custom formatting remains. Find both the Reset option and the Layout gallery in the Slides group on the Home tab, or when you right-click either a slide or a thumbnail in the Slide pane.

So, what happens when you need text or objects to have a custom size or position on just one individual slide? Don’t move or resize placeholders on individual slides — use custom objects.

  • When you insert a text box (either a traditional text box or a WordArt text box) from the Insert tab, rather than using an existing text or content placeholder, you get a custom object that isn’t affected by changes in slide layout. Keep in mind, however, that custom text boxes don’t have the formatting that’s preset in placeholders (such as several levels of bulleted text) — so you’re on your own in terms of formatting your custom text.

  • When you place other object types (such as a picture, table, diagram, or chart) from the Insert tab onto a slide that has an empty placeholder designed for that content type, your new object is automatically placed in that empty placeholder and sized accordingly. (If the slide contains similar placeholders, but they already have content, using the Insert tab to insert an object will insert the custom object you need without attaching it to a placeholder.)

  • Of course, when you need a custom object, the goal is to not attach it to a placeholder so that it isn’t affected by changing, reapplying, or resetting the layout. So, when you need objects to be independent of placeholders, usually the easiest thing to do is use the Blank or Title Only layout, as mentioned earlier. However, if you need a custom object on a slide that has empty placeholders, there is an easy workaround, as follows.

    Insert the object into the empty placeholder. Then, select and cut the object (CTRL+X), and then paste (CTRL+V). The object will be pasted back on the slide, but it will sit on top of the placeholder rather than using the placeholder. If you move the pasted object, you’ll see that the empty placeholder remains.

Troubleshooting — What can I do to stop font size from automatically changing?

The AutoFormat As You Type options that AutoFit body or heading text to placeholders are enabled by default. But, when AutoFit takes action, a SmartTag appears outside the bottom-left corner of the text box, where you can disable the action. Click the arrow to expand the SmartTag options, and you’ll see something like the following image.

The SmartTag options

The options you see in the AutoCorrect SmartTag depend on the type of placeholder, the slide layout, and your AutoCorrect settings. The options to split text between slides, continue on a new slide, or set the placeholder to two columns are only available in built-in layouts with a single body content placeholder (such as Title And Content) — but are available whether or not you have AutoFit enabled for body text.

You can turn off AutoFit from this SmartTag, or choose another appropriate action, for the individual placeholder only. Or, click Control AutoCorrect Options and then click AutoFormat As You Type for a list of options, including (at the bottom of the list) the options to AutoFit title text and body text to placeholders. You can also access the AutoCorrect Options dialog box from the Proofing tab of the PowerPoint Options dialog box.

Once you turn off AutoFit for title or body text, the AutoFit SmartTags for applicable placeholders will no longer contain the options to AutoFit text to the placeholder or stop fitting text to the placeholder. However, you’ll still see the SmartTags that provide access to the AutoCorrect Options dialog box.

It’s a good idea to keep these settings enabled and use the SmartTags to disable the setting where needed. Even if you don’t want AutoFit to change your font size, seeing the changes made by AutoFit is a good heads-up that your slide contains too much text or needs a different type of layout.

Page Setup Considerations

On the Design tab, in the Page Setup group, you have access to the familiar Page Setup dialog box, as well as quick access to changing the page orientation between portrait and landscape.

As with earlier versions, you can’t have both portrait and landscape slides in the same presentation. For text slides in print presentations, however, you can create custom layouts with rotated text (and rearrange other placeholders, such as footer and page number) to approximate the look of opposite orientation pages. Or, for on-screen presentations, link slides between presentations to have both landscape and portrait slides appear in an on-screen show. See the Troubleshooting tip in this section for help linking slides between presentations.

In the Page Setup dialog box, you’ll notice two new preset size options (shown in the following image), both of which are for widescreen shows. The default slide size is a standard (4:3 ratio) On-Screen Show.

The Page Setup dialog box

When formatting presentations for print, pay particular attention to the width and height measurements in this dialog box, shown below.

Width and height measurements in the Page Setup dialog box

Notice that, when set to letter-sized paper (8.5 by 11 inches), the page width and height are each one inch smaller than the indicated slide size. The difference between width and height settings versus the slide size setting happens regardless of the size you select. PowerPoint builds the margins into the page size, so what you see on screen doesn’t include page margins.

This is important if you’re using PowerPoint for a document that will be delivered in print, because what you see on screen is not actually the full paper size. In part, this is useful, because if you have objects that bleed to the edge of a slide, they’ll still print on printers that can’t accommodate bleeds. However, when you need to print a true bleed or otherwise need to use the full paper size, you have two options.

  • In the Page Setup dialog box, change the Height and Width settings to the paper size you need. For example, for a landscape, letter-sized page, type 11 as the Width setting and 8.5 for the Height setting. (If your default unit of measure is something other than inches, adjust the preceding measurements accordingly.) The Slide Sized For setting will change to Custom when you do this.

  • Alternately, if you just want to use more of the page when printing, but want to retain the standard slide size setting for on-screen use, in Print Preview, click Options and then click Scale To Fit Paper.

Typically, it’s not necessary to use these two options together. If you change the slide size to the full paper size and place objects that bleed to the edge of the slide, but Print Preview still doesn’t show the slide bleeding to the edge, the most likely reason is that your active printer can’t accommodate bleeds from PowerPoint or you may need to change the printer’s settings to print a bleed. You can, however, always change the active printer to a virtual printer (such as Send To OneNote 2007 or Adobe Acrobat (PDF)) to preview the full bleed.

Note: To access Print Preview, click the Microsoft Office Button and then point to Print. (Remember that you can right-click Print Preview for the option to add it to your Quick Access Toolbar.) You can also click the Preview button in the Print dialog box to access Print Preview — which is a good way to preview any changes you make to printer settings. To change settings for your active printer, in the Print dialog box, beside the name of the active printer, click Properties. Printer properties depend on your printer’s driver and are not part of the Microsoft Office programs.

Troubleshooting — I need to show portrait and landscape slides in the same presentation

As discussed in this section, all slides in a single presentation must use either portrait or landscape orientation. So, when you need portrait slides in an on-screen, landscape presentation, what do you do? Use hyperlinks to get this done in a snap.

Each slide in a presentation behaves like a bookmark within that file. So, you can simply apply a hyperlink from a slide in the landscape presentation to the slide you need in the portrait presentation. Then, add a hyperlink in the portrait presentation to return to the correct slide in the landscape presentation.

Hyperlinks in PowerPoint can be applied to any object — so you can apply the hyperlink to an existing object on the slide or insert a shape to use for the link. (Remember that, if you don’t want the shape you’re using for the link to appear on screen during your show, you can set both the shape fill and outline to None. If you do that, just be sure to remember where the shape is located when you need to click it during your show. Don’t click the link until you see the insertion point change to the hand icon that indicates you’re hovering over a hyperlink. Clicking a slide in a slide show when you see the default arrow insertion point advances your active file to the next slide.)

To add a hyperlink to a slide in another presentation, just select the object to which you want to add the link and then, on the Insert tab, in the Links group, click Hyperlink. In the Insert Hyperlink dialog box (shown here), select Existing File or Web Page in the Link to options, then use the Look in options to locate the file to which you want to link.

The Insert Hyperlink dialog box

To link to a specific slide in that file, click Bookmark. Each slide title in the selected presentation is listed in the Bookmarks dialog box. Notice that, once you select a bookmark, it appears after a pound sign in the Address bar of this dialog box, as highlighted in the preceding image. Then, in the portrait presentation, just add another hyperlink back to the next slide you need in your main presentation.

Alternately, if you need text slides in a print presentation to have opposite orientation, use slide layouts with rotated text objects so that you can create all of your slides in the same document.

About the author

Stephanie Krieger is a Microsoft Office System MVP as well as author of the books Advanced Microsoft Office Documents 2007 Edition Inside Out and Microsoft Office Document Designer. As a professional document consultant, she has helped many global companies develop enterprise solutions for Microsoft Office and taught numerous professionals to build great documents by understanding how the Office programs “think.” Stephanie writes regularly for several Microsoft Web pages and frequently delivers Office Webcasts. Visit her blog,, for Microsoft Office tips as well as information about new and upcoming publications and Webcasts.

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