Slide Master View in PowerPoint

One of the few parts of PowerPoint that isn’t quite intuitive is the Slide Master view. Getting to it is easy–go to the View tab–>Master Views group, and click Slide Master.

Then it gets a little more complicated.
To some people it looks as if they never left the Normal view–all that stuff over on the left side looks kinda like their slide show, but it isn’t. So what is it?

Those are the slide layouts you see in the Home tab–>Slides group–>Layout dropdown. In other words, those are the basic layouts you can use to create or give structure to any slides in your show. They’re built-in and always available.

Okay, first question answered. Then what?
Can we change them, or add to them? Sure. Usually the best thing to do is right-click and duplicate one whose setup is close to what you want, and modify the duplicate. Saves time and work. The same right-click gives you the ability to rename or delete one, so there’s your freedom of fiddling.
Wait a sec, though…what about the bigger slide at the top, the one all the others are connected to by the dotted line? Well, that’s the actual SLIDE MASTER, the Big Kahuna, le Grand Fromage (sorry, it slipped in).

And what does he do? His job is to control the appearance of the others. More specifically, the background elements (graphics, company logos, etc.) and the text appearance (fonts, sizes, colors, and so on). NOT the layout of the stuff you put on the slides.
So if you want all your slides to have a consistent appearance (highly desirable in almost all shows, business or other), do the basic visual stuff in the big boy at the top, then create or modify the smaller ones for the way you want the layout of the elements in the slides. And best to do it before inserting content, if you can. Less work on the back end. (Build the foundation before you build the house.)
What about other slide masters and layouts? Can we have more than one set in a slide show? We can. Whether it’s a good idea is another matter–usually one doesn’t want to mix too many slide masters/color schemes/etc. in one show unless they’re variations on one master theme, because it shouldn’t look like a circus came to town, but the program will allow it. So be conservative about such things. But don’t let it stop you from experimenting.

PowerPoint Tips and Tricks

…or, Some Ideas for Good Business Presentations

There are people who believe the joke that says, “We have met the enemy, and he is PowerPoint.” I don’t think so. But it is true that some people, through no fault of their own, don’t know where to start when it comes to creating a good PP presentation. And there are some things anyone can do to create a decent one.


According to some sources I’ve seen, an officer in the USMC can brief a dozen subjects in under an hour. While not everyone is quite so succinct, it is a step in the right direction. Keeping the presentation simple and to the point is good. Less is more.

Not everyone in the audience may know the subject matter. Check on this if possible, and plan accordingly.

Format for readability, and for emphasis as needed. (If a company has product branding standards, they should be strongly evident.)

Keep to three or four bullet points per slide, max. More than that is like taking larger bites of food—one can choke. (Mentally, it’s similar to the Gary Larson cartoon wherein the student says, “Mr. Osborne, may I be excused? My brain is full.”) More slides with less content per is better than the opposite—a little at a time.

Make the text big enough to read easily. One of my former colleagues was a Naval aviator and had 20-20 perfect fighter pilot eyes. Not everyone does.

Use sans-serif fonts, like Arial, Helvetica, or Optima if possible—the less complicated letter shapes are easier to read on a monitor or projector screen. And stick to one or two fonts at most. Much less cluttered-looking.

Stick with as few colors as possible, too. Again, less busy-looking—and it won’t look as if the circus came to town. (That product branding thing can be helpful here.)


Graphics and audio can take up a lot of room on disk, and time to download, so use them sparingly, like seasoning on a meal.

(Audio can be a megabyte per minute if it’s good quality. DVD-level video can be four megs per second.)

Charts are useful, but they too need to be simple—if there’s a lot of information, create more charts. And make sure you label everything—simply.

This is a pretty good chart.

This isn’t. 😉

Pick the right kind of chart for the data. Pie charts for percentages, column or bar charts for sales figures, line charts for trends, etc. Trying a few different kinds is okay if you want to, but knowing what works for what most of the time gives you a foundation to work from.

Other elements in a chart can help, too. The company logo should be in any company presentation.

Photographs of people involved are also a good idea. (If you need a picture of someone outside the company, find out if you need a release form. Better to find out the easy way.)


Be careful not to overdo these, either. If you go overboard here, the presentation can end up having the feeling of a Looney Toons cartoon. And that’s usually not desirable, even if the audience has a sense of humor, because it’s a distraction. One or two transitions, alternating, or a few variations on just one, and similar animations  throughout, will be more consistent, yet not boring.

And transitions should be “medium” or “fairly fast” speed—one to three seconds, so the audience can see the change but not be held in suspense (again, not really professional). This also give the presenter time to verbally segue from one to another.

There are a few more points that figure into good presentations, but these are pretty sturdy, and after hearing this sort of stuff bounced around in class for twenty-plus years, I think my students have the fundamentals solidly by now.

Office 2013 – Recover Unsaved Documents

Admit it; you’ve done this more than once.  You open an Office application like Word or Excel and type out your next great novel or number-crunching masterpiece.  Then, in a state of haste, you start closing windows and accidentally close the one window you intended to leave open.  One second later you realize, this was the one windows you shouldn’t have closed.  All is lost… or is it?


Convert a PowerPoint Presentation to Video

This tutorial applies to PowerPoint 2013, but several earlier versions of PowerPoint possess the same abilities.  The exact steps and options will vary slightly from version to version.

Showing your PowerPoint masterpiece can be thrilling, but what if you want to reach a wider audience?  How can we take our presentation from the confines of the boardroom (or is that bored room?) and set it free so the world can bask in its glory?

Very easily; we convert it into a video.

In this tutorial, we discover a feature introduced in PowerPoint 2010 which allows you to take your slides and encode them to a video that can be loaded to your corporate network for on-demand viewing through an intranet portal, or posted to a more globally accessible site such as YouTube.


Selecting Objects in Word with the Selection Pane

If you have ever inserted an object (like a picture, shape, or clipart) into a Word document and then made the unfortunate move where you pushed it behind your text…


…and now it seems forever trapped behind a sea of impenetrable words.  No matter how hard you try to click, you just cant seem to select that image again.


That image now appears forever disconnected; never again shall it be cropped, moved, or resized.  Don’t fall into the trap of most users where you end up deleting all of that valuable text just to get to the image that hides behind.


There is a very simple way of selecting any object in a Word document, no matter where it lies.  The silver bullet for this problem is called the Selection Pane.  The Selection Pane provides you with a list of all of the inserted objects in the document.  To activate the Selection Pane, select the HOME tab, then in the Editing group of controls click Select followed by Selection Pane… in the provided dropdown list.


The right side of your screen will now be occupied by the Selection Pane.  A list of every object (non-text) in your document will be listed.  By clicking the name of the object, you can select the object regardless of any normal selection obstacles you have fought with in the past.


This technique for selecting object is also useful in PowerPoint when you have many small objects on a slide and you have difficulty targeting a specific item.

You can also temporarily hide an object by clicking the Show/Hide icon (looks like an eye) to the right of the listed item.  This is especially helpful when you have a lot of distracting images in your document and you want to focus solely on the text.  There is even a Show All and Hide All feature located at the top of the Selection Pane for when you just want it all to “take a break”.