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Putting the Fine Touches on a PowerPoint Presentation

By Glenna Shaw



The little things can often mean the difference between a professional and amateur appearance when showing a presentation.  This article covers frequently overlooked or underutilized tools in PowerPoint that make the subtle differences between class and crass in a presentation design.

Slide Layouts

PowerPoint automatically provides the formatting when adding a new slide and allows you to choose from a selection of layouts.  These layouts have placeholders for slide items.  The advantage of using the layouts is the consistent appearance they provide as well as the auto-sizing of text.  In addition, the placeholders are used to create the outline, identification of slides, and summary slides.

When editing or changing a presentation, if you delete a placeholder, you can reapply the appropriate slide layout by clicking on Format, Slide Layout and choosing the appropriate layout for your slide.  This is more effective than adding a text box to the slide that you have to edit and resize.  You can also make a single change to a placeholder (for example, change the color of your slide title) in the Slide Master and it will automatically apply to all your formatted slides.  To learn more about Slide Masters, check out Echo’s tutorials.


Many folks use the line AutoShapes to draw lines from one object to another.  Consider instead using connectors.  Connectors allow you to be more exact in your placement of lines and attach to the objects being connected.  They are especially useful for slides displaying flow charts or organizational charts.  To learn more about connectors, see Glen’s tutorial.




The Draw Toolbar

The draw toolbar is typically located in the lower left corner of your PowerPoint window.  It offers a variety of useful tools.


Align or Distribute

One of the single most useful tools in PowerPoint.  Align and distribute allows you to exactly line up objects on your slide instead of trying to “eyeball” it.  Simply select multiple objects on your slide by holding down the shift key while clicking on them.  You can then easily align or distribute them equally and exactly.

Group, Ungroup, Regroup

Once you have your objects aligned the way you want, you can group them together.  This allows you to treat the items as a single object.  Or you can ungroup items such as clip art to customize them.

Grids and Guides

Grids and guides are tools that make it easier for you to align items on your slide.  Grids and Guides are easily turned off and on by hitting CTRL-G.



Nudge allows you to move selected objects in very small increments.  You can also use the left, right, up and down arrows to move objects in larger increments or hold the CTRL key with the arrows to Nudge the objects.

Rotate or Flip

Rotate or flip provides a variety of options for changing the orientation of a selected object.  For more exact rotation of a selected object, click on Format, (picture, AutoShape, object), Size and change the rotation by number of degrees.

Reroute Connector

Reroute connectors allows you to change the connection point of a selected connector.  When you place your mouse over one of the red connection points, it will change to a “cross-hair” and you can click and move the connector to a new edit point.  You can also reroute the connector simply by clicking on it.

Edit Points

Edit points are used when you create your own shapes using the AutoShapes “squiggly” lines.  After you’ve drawn your custom shape, you can use edit points to refine the shape.  By right clicking on any edit point, you get a menu of more edit point options.  See Glen’s tutorial for more about creating your own shapes.

Change AutoShapes

Allows you to change any existing AutoShape without losing size, position, color, lines, animation, etc. that you’ve already applied.

Set AutoShape Defaults

Makes the attributes (color, line, etc.) of the selected AutoShape the default settings for any new AutoShapes.



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