Misc. Tips 3
HOW TO REMOVE BACKGROUNDS FROM IMAGES
Tired of that annoying white background that sometimes shows up behind your scans and other bitmap images? Let PowerPoint get rid of it for you.
Click the image to select it. Usually, as soon as you select the image, the Picture toolbar appears, but if not, choose View, Toolbars and click Picture on the popup menu.
Click the Set Transparent Color button on the Picture toolbar (it's the second one from the right) and the cursor changes to match the picture on the button.
Click on the background area of your picture and voila, it becomes transparent -- it disappears.
Sometimes only part of the background becomes transparent, leaving you with a rather unattractive mottled effect. When you click an image with the Set Transparent Color tool, it figures out the color of the image pixel you clicked on and makes all the other identically-colored pixels in the image transparent. Pixels that aren't the exact same color won't be affected, which can give you a mottled effect if the image background isn't one solid color.
To fix this, open the image in a paint program and make sure that the entire background is a single color, then re-import the image into PowerPoint.
ELIMINATE THE FRINGE AROUND TRANSPARENT IMAGES
When you use PowerPoint's Set Transparent Color tool, your image may be surrounded by a slight "fringe" of background color that the Set Transparent Color tool hasn't eliminated.
You can minimize or eliminate this problem by editing the original image in a paint program so that the image's background is as close in color as possible to your PowerPoint background.
First, find out exactly what the background color is. Choose Format, Background, click the down arrow icon in the Background dialog box and pick More Colors from the dropdown list box.
Click the Custom tab in the Colors dialog box that appears, and write down the Red, Green and Blue values shown for your background color.
Click Cancel to close the Colors dialog box, then Cancel again to close the Background dialog box.
Open your image in a paint program and change the background of the image to match the background color of your PowerPoint presentation. Save the image, then re-insert it into the presentation.
Now when you use the Set Transparent Color tool on the image, the fringe will be gone, or at least much less obtrusive.
Note: if your presentation has some other background than a flat color, pick the dominant color and try to match your image background to it.
SPEED KEYS FOR COPYING FORMATTING
While you can use the Format Painter button on the Standard toolbar to copy and paste formatting from one object to another, sometimes it's quicker to do the job with a few keystrokes, especially when you're in the midst of entering text. Here are a few keyboard tricks that'll speed you on your way:
CTRL+SHIFT+C copies the formatting of the current selection to the clipboard
CTRL+SHIFT+V pastes the formatting from the clipboard to the current selection
GET ADDITIONAL GUIDES
When you choose View, Guides you see two guide lines that you can snap objects to for more accurate placement. You can drag the guides wherever you like them, but you're limited to just the two guides, one horizontal, one vertical. Wouldn't it be useful sometimes to have more guides?
Evidently Microsoft thought so, because you can. In fact, you can have up to eight horizontal and eight vertical guides to place wherever you like, and it couldn't be simpler to do: Just hold down the Ctrl key while you drag an existing guide to a new position. The original guide stays where it was, and you get a new guide at the new position.
HOW TO REMOVE GUIDE LINES
So now your PowerPoint screen is positively LITTERED with guides and now maybe you're wondering how to clean up the mess?
If you just want to make guides invisible without removing them completely, choose View, Guides. The guides will disappear and objects will no longer snap to them. To bring the guides back into view, choose View, Guides again.
To remove a guide completely, drag it off the slide. As you move it, you'll see the measurement readout box showing you where it is. As long as that's visible, the guide's still on the slide. When the guide is off the slide, the measurement readout box disappears. At that point, let go of the mouse button and the guide will be gone.
You can't remove PowerPoint's default guides (one vertical, one horizontal) this way. Choose View, Guides to make them disappear or drag them to the very edge of the slide to get them out of your way temporarily.
USE GUIDES TO MEASURE DISTANCES
Normally when you drag a guide line from one place on the screen to another, PowerPoint shows you a tooltip readout of the guide's distance from the center of the slide.
That's useful. For something or other. We suppose.
But it's not at all helpful when you want to know the distance from one point to another on the slide. Luckily, you CAN use guides for other types of measurements if you're SHIFTy:
Position a guide at the starting point of the distance you'd like to measure, then hold down the SHIFT key as you drag the guide to the ending point.
Now, instead of giving you a distance-from-center readout, PowerPoint starts with a measurement of 0 and increases it as you drag the guide, so you can tell exactly how far it is from here to that rectangle over there. Or to Tipperary on the map image you just imported.
One little problem: it's hard to make precise measurements of small distances because the guide (and its measurement readout values) are locked to the grid and jump in fixed increments. To temporarily disable the grid, hold down the ALT key in addition to the SHIFT key as you drag the guide. Zooming in on the slide will also help you make more accurate measurements.
PUT GRAPHICS IN EXACTLY THE SAME PLACE ON EVERY SLIDE
Occasionally, you may need to put a graphic or picture in exactly the same place on several slides. While you can do this by entering measurements into the Size and Position tabs of the Format Object dialog box, that can be INCREDIBLY tedious if there are more than just a few items to place this way. Luckily, there are two much simpler ways of getting the job done:
1 - Use guides
In a previous tip we explained how to get additional guides by holding down the CTRL key while you drag an existing guide. You can use multiple guides to make a template you can snap objects into place with. Place and size the first object just the way you want it, then drag guides up against each side of the object. Go to the next slide and select the next object you want to put in the same place as the first. Drag it until it snaps into the upper left corner formed by two of the guides, then drag the object's lower right selection handle until it snaps to the lower right corner formed by the other two guides.
2 - Use a specialized tool for the job
Download the free PPTools Starter Set
Installed the Starter Set, select the object whose position you want to duplicate, then click the button on the Editing toolbar that looks vaguely like PowerPoint's ruler bar. This records the size and position of the object you selected. Then move to another slide and select another object and click the button that looks like a hammer and nail.
The object you selected is indeed "nailed" into place -- exactly the same place as the object whose size and position you recorded on the previous slide. You can continue to select and "nail" other objects into the exact same place on as many other slides as you like. The tool remembers the position you first recorded until you change it by recording the size and position of a new object.
To change the way the tool sizes and positions the "nailed" shapes, hold down the Ctrl key while clicking either tool.
CHARACTER FORMATTING SHORTCUTS
When you're in the middle of entering text and need to change the formatting of a word or two, it's much faster to do it right from the keyboard than to use the mouse. Here are a few fast formatting tricks:
CTRL+SHIFT+> increases the font size of the selected text
CTRL+SHIFT+< decreasese the font size of the selected text
In both cases, when you change the font size, PowerPoint selects the next size from its list of standard font sizes (the one you see when you use the mouse to change the font size). If you'd rather pick your own exact font size, press CTRL+SHIFT+P then enter the font size you want and press ENTER.
You can also press CTRL+SHIFT+F and type the name of the font you want to change the typeface.
SELECTING MULTIPLE SLIDES IN SLIDE SORTER
You already know that you can click the thumbnail of a slide to select it in Slide Sorter view, but did you know that you can select and work with more than one slide at a time?
To select a continuous range of slides: click the first slide in the range to select it, then hold down the SHIFT key while you click to select the last slide in the range. All of the slides in between the two will be added to the selection as well. You can also click outside any of the slide images then drag an imaginary rectangle around the group of slides you want to select. Any slides within or touched by this imaginary rectangle will be selected.
To select a discontinuous range of slides: click the first slide you want to select, then hold down the CTRL key as you click each additional slide you want to add to the selection. If you make a mistake, CTRL+click a selected slide again to un-select it.
To select ALL of the slides in the presentation: press CTRL+A
Sometimes it's helpful to combine these techniques. For example, suppose you want all but three of the slides in the presentation. Instead of laboriously CTRL+clicking each slide you want, press CTRL+A to select them all, then CTRL+click the slides you DON'T want included.
CHANGING GROUPS OF SLIDES
While it's simple enough to change the background, layout, preset animation type and the like for two or three slides, doing the same thing for dozens of slides seems like a recipe for SERIOUS tedium. But it doesn't have to be.
Instead of making all the needed changes on each slide, switch to Slide Sorter view, and select each of the slides you want to change, then make your changes to all of them at once. Here are some of the changes you can make to a group of slides selected in Slide Sorter view:
- Color scheme
SLIDE SHOW settings
- Preset animation
- Slide transition
This is a handy trick to know if you've rehearsed a slide show and then decided that you want to remove all the animation timings PowerPoint recorded for you. Normally, it'd be a VERY tedious task, but now you know how to do it with just a few keystrokes. Press CTRL+A to select all of the slides, then choose Slide Show, Slide Transition to bring up the Slide Transition dialog box, where you can set Automatically After to zero and click Apply or Apply to All to remove timings from all of your slides at once.
STUPID GRID TRICKS
PowerPoint's built in grid makes it simple to align objects to one another. There are a few other tricks you can use it for as well.
For example, did you know that each press of the arrow keys moves a selected object one grid incremement?
When you choose an object then pick Edit, Duplicate (or press CTRL+D) PowerPoint always puts the duplicate two grid increments to the right and two down. That makes it simple to align the duplicate exactly with the original: press CTRL+D to make a duplicate, then press the up-arrow key twice, press the left arrow key twice, and the original and duplicate objects are perfectly aligned.
If you want to take an object temporarily "off the grid" so you can move it in smaller, more precise increments, hold down the ALT key while you drag the object or hold down the CTRL key while you nudge the object around with the arrow keys. Why doesn't PowerPoint use the ALT key for both these functions? That will remain one of life's little mysteries, we suspect.
Incidentally, if you're moving objects "off the grid" the closer you zoom in, the more control you have, since the "nudge factor" gets smaller.
And finally, suppose you HATE the way PowerPoint snaps everything to the grid. What then? Here's what: turn it off. Click Draw, point to Snap, then click To Grid on the flyout menu. No more grid.
A BRIGHTER, BETTER FORMAT PAINTER TOOL
The normal Format Painter tool's handy for picking up the formatting from one object and applying it to another, or even to a series of objects, but it's not very bright. As soon as you finish using it, it forgets everything you ever taught it. Luckily, PowerPoint will give you a smarter version of the Format Painter if you ask it to.
Choose Tools, Customize then click the Commands tab. Click Format in the Categories list, then scroll down the options in the Commands list to locate the Pick Up Object Style and Apply Object Style tools (the icons look like an eyedropper with an arrow). Drag each of these to any convenient toolbar, then click Close to dismiss the Customize dialog box.
Use the Pick Up Object Syle tool to memorize any object's formatting and then you can use the Apply Object Style tool to apply the memorized formatting to any other object in the presentation, or in any other open presentation. PowerPoint remembers the formatting style until you pick up a different object's formatting with Pick Up Object Style or quit PowerPoint.
When you insert scans and other similar digital pictures into PowerPoint, you walk a fine line between choosing an image that's too big (and that slows down your presentation) and choosing one that's too small (resulting in the dreaded "jaggies" when you display it). How do you know what the ideal size for an image should be?
If your presentation is intended for screenshow use either on a laptop, monitor or video projector, deciding the correct size for the image is actually pretty simple. You need to know the video resolution of the computer the show will run on first. To find this out, right click the desktop and choose Properties from the pop-up menu. On the Settings tab, you'll find the current resolution listed under Screen Area. A common value you'll find there is 800x600 pixels for laptops or 1024x768 for desktop machines.
For images that will occupy the entire screen, that's your answer. If the screen itself is 800x600 pixels, you want your full screen images to be 800x600 pixels also. If your images are a little larger or smaller than this, it's probably nothing to worry about -- just use them as is. But if they're considerably larger, consider using a paint program to "downsample" them to the correct size. They'll display faster, and probably will look better on screen.
If you'll be using an image smaller than full screen, it needs proportionally fewer pixels. For example, if the image will occupy only one-quarter of an 800x600 pixel screen, it only needs to be 800/4 or 200 pixels wide.
If you're interested in learning more about resolution, scanning tips and the like, visit Wayne Fulton's excellent Scan Tips site and read the tutorials at MVP TAJ Simmons' Awesome PowerPoint Backgrounds
USE THE TAB KEY TO SELECT OBJECTS ON A SLIDE
If you have a lot of overlapping objects on a PowerPoint slide (as you might if you're editing clip art or a complex drawing) it can be difficult to select the object you want to work with. Instead of clicking to select objects, try using the TAB key instead.
When you press TAB, PowerPoint selects the first object on the slide. Then each time you press TAB after that, it selects the next object, so you can easily "cycle" through the objects on your slide by repeatedly pressing TAB. If you overshoot the mark and miss the object you were after, hold down SHIFT while you press TAB to reverse direction and select the previous object.
You can get to the object you want a little more quickly if you first click an object that's a bit before it in the drawing order, then use TAB to move to the object you actually want.
TAB selecting can be especially handy when you need to select objects that are invisible. Why would anybody want invisible objects in a presentation? Read on ...
CONTROL PRESENTATIONS WITH INVISIBLE ACTION BUTTONS
The Problem: you want to set up a presentation that you can control by clicking action buttons, but you plan to have several of these buttons on each slide, and you don't want to clutter up your presentation design with a lot of buttons.
The Solution: INVISIBLE action buttons.
Draw the buttons--draw rectangles (or any other shape you like) on the slide where you want the action buttons to appear, then assign them action settings (choose Slide Show, Action Settings and set the options you want for each)
Test the buttons--start the screen show and click each shape to make sure it does what it's supposed to.
Make them invisible--select the shapes and assign them a fill of No Fill and an outline of No Line. This will make them invisible.
Now try running your screen show again. You'll find that even though the shapes are invisible, they still trigger the actions you've assigned when you click them.
If you want the same action buttons on several slides, simply select the ones you just created, choose Edit, Copy (or press CTRL+C), move to the next slide and choose Edit, Paste (or press CTRL+V). That works well if you only need to copy the buttons to a few additional slides, but what if you want the same set of buttons on every slide in your presentation? Read on.
Instead of putting your action buttons on any single slide, choose View, Master, Slide Master and create your action buttons on the Master slide. Anything you place on the Master slide appears on all slides in the presentation unless you specifically disable master items on a particular slide. In this case, "appears" is probably the wrong word to use, since you'll make the buttons invisible once you've tested them, but visible or not, they'll be there and will respond to mouse clicks as if they were on each individual slide.
Well, almost. There's one little "gotcha". Anything on an individual slide sits atop everything on the Master. So if you have a large graphic on Slide 3, for example, and it partially overlaps an action button on the Master slide, the graphic will "eat" any mouse clicks on it--the action button will never "feel" them, so it won't be triggered.
At the very least, you'll want to make sure that you don't completely cover up any action buttons you've placed on the Master slide. There's a way around this little problem too:
- Choose View, Master, Slide Master
- Select the shapes that are covered by objects on individual slides and choose Edit, Copy (or press CTRL+C)
- Choose View, Slides to return to the slide you started on
- Choose Edit, Paste (or press CTRL+V) to paste a copy of the shape(s) onto the slide itself. Since the copy will sit atop anything else on the slide, it will receive mouse clicks instead of the graphic or other object underneath it and will react in the same way that the same shape on the Master slide would have
So far, we've showed you how to create invisible action buttons, how to include the same buttons on every slide in your presentation, and how to make sure that objects on individual slides don't interfere with them. There's one more little trick you'll want to know about.
Suppose you've put two of these invisible action buttons on each slide. Each one fills half the slide, so all you need to do is click the right side of the slide to advance to the next slide in the presentation or the left side of the slide to go back to the previous slide. Nice and simple, but when you're on the last slide in the presentation, it doesn't make any sense to have a button that takes you to the next slide. There IS no next slide. Why not a button to end the presentation instead?
You don't want to delete the Next action button on the master because that would delete it from all your other slides. But as you'll recall from the earlier tip, anything on an individual slide that covers up something on the master slide will receive mouse clicks--and that's the solution. Simply draw a new rectangle on the slide, make sure it completely covers the one on the master, then assign its action setting as Hyperlink to, End show and then make it invisible. That's all there is to it.
WHAT'S SELECTED HERE?
One frequent point of confusion for new PowerPoint users and experienced ones alike is the distinction between text and the text box that contains it.
When you click anywhere in a text box, PowerPoint assumes you want to edit the text, so it shows you an I-beam text insertion cursor. You can then edit the text or select it and apply formatting if you like, but the formatting will apply only to the selected text. If you want to format all the text in the box, you can drag to select it first, but it's faster to apply formatting to the text box itself.
Formatting you apply to the text box applies to all the text in the box automatically. To select the text box, click on the box surrounding the text. That can be a bit fussy, so luckily there's a simpler way. Click anywhere in the text box to get the I-beam cursor, then press ESC to select the text box itself.
TEXT IN A BOX (OR CIRCLE. OR POLYGON. OR ...)
Have you ever needed to center some text in a rectangle or circle or other shape? You draw the shape, then draw a text box, then try to get the text box sized and neatly aligned to the shape and ... sure seems like a lot of work, doesn't it?
Well, it is, but there's a much simpler way of getting the job done. All you need to do is:
- Draw the shape
- Start typing
When you have a shape selected and start to type text, PowerPoint automatically puts your text in the shape, nicely centered. The only problem is that PowerPoint puts all your text on one line. It doesn't automatically word-wrap it, so if you type more than a few words, the text will probably extend beyond the boundary of the shape you're typing it into. To fix this, right-click the shape then click Format AutoShape on the pop-up menu. Click the Text Box tab and put a checkmark next to Word wrap text in AutoShape, then click OK.
GET BETTER LOOKING SHADOWED TEXT
PowerPoint sometimes produces odd-looking and seemingly unpredictable effects when you apply shadow formatting to your text.
Actually the result is quite predictable (if unlovely at times). PowerPoint selects the shadow color based on the slide background color. The problem is that it doesn't always choose well, and it doesn't give you any control over the decision.
Instead of applying a shadow attribute to your text formatting, use an object shadow instead.
If your text already has a text shadow, remove it. Select the text, choose Format, Font and remove the checkbox next to Shadow (or click the Text Shadow button on the Formatting toolbar)
Now apply an object shadow to the text. With the text still selected, click the Shadow button on the Drawing toolbar and pick the shadow style you'd like from the pop-up menu. Or pick Shadow Settings from the pop-up menu to bring up the Shadow Settings toolbar. You can use the Shadow Settings toolbar to turn the shadow on and off, change the shadow direction and depth, or set the shadow's color.