Creating Better Documents With PowerPoint

Smart people like you often like to think outside the box right? If you’re one of those people here’s something for you to consider: PowerPoint can be a great option for a lot of creating things beyond just presentation slides.

For example, in our office we use PowerPoint to craft visually appealing reports, proposals, tipsheets, handouts and other documents that most people make in Word.

If you want to get your message across more effectively by combining visuals with smart, pithy text (if not, you should!) PowerPoint can be a great option.  Take a peek what this might look like?


Check out this great example from Nancy Duarte in which she explains some of the benefits of what she calls “Slide Docs”:

Pretty nice isn’t it? I’ll bet it’s a whole lot better than what you first envisioned when you saw PowerPoint and documents together in the title right? 😎

Here are a couple of helpful PowerPoint tips to get you started creating your own Slide Docs:

Change Slide Orientation

Depending on the design you have in mind for your project, you might want to change PowerPoints default slide orientation from landscape to portrait. Here’s how:

Just click Design » Slide Size » Choose Custom Slide Size » Portrait

Change Powerpoint slide orientation

Use Multi-column Text Boxes

Columned text layouts are often seen in documents created within word processing programs such as Microsoft Word. But you can take also advantage of them in PowerPoint . (They’re a more basic version of the columns functionality available in Word.) Setting up multiple columns will allow your text to automatically flow between columns naturally, and help you avoid a lot of unnecessary cutting and pasting.

Creating multiple columns is also easy to do. Check it out:

1. Right-click your text placeholder and select Format Shape.

2. Click Text Options at the top.

3. Right below that, click on Text Box icon.

4. Click the Columns… button at the bottom of the panel.

5. Enter the settings for how many columns you want and the amount of Spacing you’d like between each column. Click OK when you’re done.


Even the great templates created by Nancy Duarte could benefit from using a single, multi-column text box in place of multiple individual text boxes.

Having two separate text boxes requires you to manually cut and paste text from one column to another when you run out of space in the first one.


Whereas using a single text box with columns takes care of the text flow between columns automatically.


Now that you’ve seen what is possible in PowerPoint, think about how you might use it to reinvent your own documents. If you do, I’d love to see what you come up with!

Tip of the Week #434

Keep Your Own Custom Templates in the PowerPoint Template Gallery

When you create a new presentation in PowerPoint 2013 you’re presented with a selection of featured design templates you can use. There are some decent options there but over time you may have found a few “go to” favorites or even come up with your own personal templates.


Wouldn’t it be nice if you could put the templates that you actually use in this convenient start-up gallery? Well, you can! And it is super easy.

How to Add Any Template to the PowerPoint New Presentation Gallery

1. Save your PowerPoint template file (.potx) to this folder on your hard drive:

C:\Users\<your username>\Documents\Custom Office Templates

[ Replace the  part with whatever your user name is on your PC ]

And that’s all there is to it…now any template files you save in this folder will appear on the Personal tab of that start-up gallery screen.


And the other cool thing about this is that it works the same way for Word and Excel templates.

 Tip of the Week #433

PowerPoint Tip: Dim Previous List Items to Focus Attention

We all know that over using bullet points in your presentations is bad right? But for those times when a list of items is appropriate this handy tip is great for highlighting the current item as you work your way through the list.

First, you’ll want to apply an animation to your list so they appear one at a time instead of all at once. Once you’ve selected an animation, open the animation pane and go to “Effect Options”.

Effect Options

Next, look for the “After animation” drop-down and use that to select a color for displaying the previous (i.e. not currently active) items to be dimmed to. I chose a shade of gray; you can choose anything you like or even hide them entirely if you prefer.


Now when you view your presentation, the items on this list will dim as the next item animates in – focusing attention on the newest item.


Tip of the Week #432

How to Highlight Text in PowerPoint

When you’re building your slides you should always try to reduce the number of bullet points and on-screen text. (You already knew that right?) Even with a minimal amount of text on your slides, there still may be times when you want to highlight a particular bit of text.

If you’re using PowerPoint 2013 you can take advantage of a cool text highlighting feature in Word. Here’s how it works:

1. Either create your text in Word or copy it from Powerpoint and paste it into Word.

2.  Select the text you want to highlight and look for the Highlight button on the Home tab.


3. Select which color highlighting you’d like to have and you’ll get something that looks like the text above.

4. Copy the highlighted text you’ve created in Word and jump over into PowerPoint 2013.

5. Now paste it onto your PowerPoint slide and bing, bang, zoom you’ve got some nice looking highlighted text for your slide.

Once you have it in PowerPoint you can easily edit it or copy and paste it to use it on other slides, etc. without any need to go back into Word.

NOTE: If you don’t see the highlighting after pasting it into PowerPoint, immediately look for the Paste Options… button and click the Keep Source Formatting option. 


Interested in even more ideas for emphasizing your slide text? Check out these great ideas from Jeannette Brooks – “7 Easy Ways to Emphasize Text“.

7ways to emphasize text

Tip of the Week #430

How to Embed Videos Into Microsoft Word Documents

If a picture is worth a thousand words, how many words is a video worth? Sometimes words alone just aren’t enough and a video is just what you need to get your point across.

For times like those why not just grab one of the zillions of videos already online and drop it into your document? Keep reading to see just how easy it is to add online videos that you can watch right in Word without having to leave the document.

Adding an Online Video to Your Word Document

Click Insert »  Online Video.

By default you can search for videos on Bing and you can add the option to search YouTube and others. Another option is to copy and paste the embed code from a site like YouTube, etc.


NOTE: If the Online Video button is grayed out, check to see if you’re in Compatibility Mode. You know you’re in Compatibility Mode if [Compatibility Mode] appears after the document name in the title bar at the top of the Word window. If so, convert the document by going to File » Info » Convert and then try again.

Searching For YouTube Videos

If you want to add videos from YouTube and you don’t see it as an option, click the YouTube button at the bottom of the Insert Video window. If you don’t see a YouTube icon, make sure you’re signed in to Office 2013. (You can get a free Office account if you don’t already have one.)

With the video in your document, anyone can simply click the play button to watch the video.

Word Video

You can use this trick for your PowerPoint presentations too. Check out this great post for all the nitty gritty on using YouTube videos in PowerPoint.

Tip of the Week #429

The Fastest & Easiest Way to Arrange Multiple Slide Images

Have you ever built a slide with multiple images that were all different shapes and sizes? If so, you might have done a lot more manual effort than you needed to. This great tip will have you done with that job quicker than you can say SmartArt.

I’ve never been a very big fan of the SmartArt feature, but with tricks as good as this one I may be warming up to the idea!

Let’s start with a typical scenario where you’ve got a slide that you want to have multiple images from a variety of sources. Initially they come in all shapes and sizes but you want something much more uniform.


You could spend a bunch of time manually sizing and placing them all but you are smarter than that and know that there must be a more efficient way right? Yes, there is! SmartArt to the rescue.

How To Automatcally Size & Position Your Slide Images with SmartArt

  1. Select all your images. Depending on what else is on your slide you can either do a CTRL + A to select all items, or hold the SHIFT key while clicking each image you want to work with.
  2. Apply a SmartArt layout. Go to the Picture Tools » Format tab and click the Picture Layout button.Picture Layout3
  3. Select a layout that you like. This will give you a nice looking, super quick and uniform layout for all your images. Some even give you the ability to add text labels, etc.
  4. Wrap it up. If you like the result you can just size & position your SmartArt object and be done. If you don’t want to be constrained by having these images stuck inside the SmartArt object, ungrouping the graphic twice,  ( Ctrl + Shift + G if you like keyboard shortcuts), separate everything out into individual objects which can be easier to work with.


What do you think? Are you a fan of SmartArt? If not, will this trick change your mind at all?

Tip of the Week #423

How to Upgrade Your Copy & Paste Work With the Office Clipboard

Most people know that every time you cut or copy an item, it is saved in your computer’s short term memory  – in a place called the Clipboard. Once they’re on the clipboard you can paste them to other places like documents, spreadsheets, presentations, etc. This week I’d like to share a few things most people don’t know about the Office clipboard that will definitely help you work smarter, not harder.

Access the Clipboard to Work with Multiple Items

Unless you know this trick, you’ll only be able to work with a single copied item at a time. A much smarter, more efficient way to work when you’re copying, cutting and pasting a lot of things is to take advantage of the Office clipboard which can store many more than just one item. That way you only have to copy something once and it will always be available anytime you want it without requiring you to re-copy it again.

Accessing the Office Clipboard

  1. On the ‘Home’ tab in PowerPoint (or Word, Excel, etc) click  on the pop-out button in the bottom-right corner of the ‘Clipboard’ group.
  2. This opens a pane, showing you ALL the items that you’ve copied recently


High Capacity Clipboard

The Office clipboard can store up to 24 items at a time. And this includes items copied from anywhere not just Office. So go ahead and grab that info you from a website or anywhere and copy it. The Office clipboard will hold it for you until you need it.

Choosing What You Want to Paste

The most recent item you copied appears at the top of the clipboard pane. When you press ‘Ctrl + V’ to paste an item, it always pastes the last item copied. If you want to paste any of the other items you’ve accumulated on your clipboard, just click the drop-down next to the item you want and choose Paste.


..Or Paste Them All

Depending on how you’re using it, you can even paste everything you’ve added to your Office clipboard by clicking the Paste All button.

Remember, the clipboard is temporary storage and whenever you shut down or restart your computer your clipboard will be emptied.

Tip of the Week #421

#421 3 Easy Ways to Share Your Presentations Online

After you’ve spent all that time creating a great looking presentation, you might want to share them online. If you’re like most people you may not know just how easy it is to put your slides online and share them with the world. You can even make them downloadable if you want.

Here are three good, free, options that are super quick and easy to use:


It is really easy to upload your PowerPoint files to Slideshare and have them converted into an easily shared online format. Once you’re slides are uploaded you can easily share the link or even embed them in a webpage, on your blog or just about anywhere. It will even look great on mobile devices.

Note that the conversion isn’t always perfect and if you have any unique fonts or other complex content you might want to convert your slides into a PDF and upload that to ensure everything looks the way you want it to.

Speaker Deck

Simply upload your slides as a PDF, and Speaker Deck turns them into a nice online experience. View them on, or share them on any website with an embed code.

PowerPoint Online

Microsoft’s free online version of PowerPoint is another great option. You can upload your existing slides or create new ones online for sharing.  The coolest thing about this option is that you can do the same thing with Word documents and Excel Spreadsheets.

#413 Stay Sane With PowerPoint’s Selection Pane

If you ever work  on PowerPoint slides with a lot of  items, especially ones that are layered above and below each other, you’ll definitely want to know about PowerPoint’s Selection Pane. The Selection Pane lists everything you have on your slide making it super easy to select exactly the one you want to work with. This helps you avoid all kinds of kludgy tricks to get at things obscured by other objects above them.

Using the selection pane, you can simply hide the items on top of the one you want to work with, then turn them back on when you’re done. You can also use the selection pane to quickly and easily change the layering order and bring items up or down in the stack.  You can even name the items on your slide to help you keep track of everything.

To display the Selection Pane from the Home tab, click Select > Selection Pane and you’ll then see the Selection task pane on the right.


There are so many ways you can benefit from using the Selection Pane. Give it a try and before you know it, you’ll be a Selection Pane wizard .

#411 Custom Cropping in PowerPoint

Resizing & Cropping Images

There are two ways that you can change the size of an image — resizing and cropping.

Resizing changes the dimensions of the picture by stretching or shrinking it.

Cropping reduces the size of the picture by removing the vertical or horizontal edges. Cropping is often used to hide or trim a part of a picture, either for emphasis or to remove unwanted portions.

If you’re sure you won’t need to undo your changes after you crop the picture, use the Compress Pictures feature to delete the cropped parts of the picture from the file completely. This helps shrink the file size of your documents.

Cropping Images

PowerPoint is probably where you’re most likely to crop images, but you can also do this in Word and Excel if you need to.

1. Select the image you want to crop.

2. On the Picture Tools » Format tab, click the Crop button .


3. Position the cropping tool over a cropping handle and then do one of the following:

  • To crop one side, drag the center handle on that side inward.
  • To crop equally on two sides at once, hold down CTRL as you drag the center handle on either side inward.
  • To crop equally on all four sides at once, hold down CTRL as you drag a corner handle inward.

Custom Cropping to Shapes

Regular cropping is easy and work greats, but your stuck with boring squares and rectangles. If you’d like a more “pro” look you should try the  Crop to Shape option.

1. Select the image.

2. Instead of the crop button above, click on the small arrow below the ‘Crop’ button and select Crop to Shape.

3. Then pick whatever shape you want.


4. By default, PowerPoint stretches your chosen shape to cover the entire image. To change the size, shape or position of the cropped area, click on ‘Crop’ again.

5. Resize and reshape the cropped section using the black cropping handles, resize the image itself by using the white circle handles, and move the image within the cropped area by dragging the image itself.


When you’re done you’ll have a nice, professional looking (and non-square) image that will stand out from the crowd. Give it a try next time you’re working in PowerPoint. Happy Cropping!