Archives for January 2016

Ten Presentation Trends to Watch Out For in 2016

While some of them may exist only for the sake of aesthetics, others have been adopted to suit the needs and preferences of modern-day consumers. For example, the use of flat design, many experts say, is more than just the latest craze; it responds to the fact that realist elements are very hard to incorporate into responsive systems designed for screens of all sizes.

To keep you up to date with the latest design techniques, we’ve compiled a list of presentation design techniques that will help you create a presentation that looks fresh and contemporary–just like the content you will hopefully deliver to your audiences.

1. Immersive photography


Stunning, oversized images will continue to dominate presentation design in 2016, especially in line with the trend of cutting down on text and using images instead to drive home a message.

These large, beautiful background images and video not only serve to captivate your audience’s attention, but they also set the tone for your presentation and provide an immersive setting that transports viewers to a completely different scene.

2. Scrolling presentations


Remember when you used to create a printed version of your slide deck to hand out to your audience? Well, those days are gone. While this was good practice in the sense that it gave listeners some key takeaways that they could review at their own pace to refresh the information relayed, using this as the only method of delivery is a bit outdated.

Nowadays, it is easier to simply provide audience members access to your slides in the form of a scrolling presentation that looks very much like a web page, as seen in the example above.

Instead of sending emails with large attachments, you can simply send a link to your website. If done right, your website should have a responsive design that allows content to be viewed across a wide range of platforms. Whether on a tablet, a laptop, a PC or a mobile device, your slides can be easily viewed from anywhere.

Another advantage is that in comparison with static PDF files, scrolling presentations allow you to add more interactive and immersive elements, such as videos, surveys, quizzes or forms.

Although some users prefer clicking to scrolling, the consensus leans toward long scrolling as a popular usability option that is used by content-heavy sites, such as digital newspapers and blogs.

3. Stock Photo alternatives

Eco-nomics, The hidden costs of consumption from Josh Beatty

Overused stock photos are just as bad–if not worse–as bullet points and text-heavy slides. In their stead, other forms of visual representation are being used to communicate ideas in a fresh and appealing way.

Take a look at the presentation above, for example. Here, playful graphics in combination with a small amount of text are used to send a powerful message.

4. Creative illustrations

How Google Works from Eric Schmidt

Another effective alternative to the ubiquitous stock photo is hand-drawn elements and custom illustrations. If done correctly, these unique design elements can draw attention to your slide deck like nothing else can.

For example, Eric Schmidt, Google’s ex-CEO, used this approach in the slide deck above. As you can see, it gives the presentation a very playful, personable and creative touch.

5. Graphics and Storytelling

Fix Your Really Bad PowerPoint from HighSpark

As we’ve said many times before, storytelling is one of the most powerful tools a communicator can possess. It not only gets your message across more effectively during your presentation, but it also makes it much more memorable so that concepts stick for months, even years after your ideas were first relayed.

If this weren’t enough, storytelling could be even more effective when combined with visuals. Take, for example, the presentation above. If you click through the entire slide deck, you’ll find an invisible thread that ties each of the different slides together, in such a way that you feel you’re being told a story. Every image perfectly complements–instead of repeats–each of the carefully chosen phrases and words.

6. Flat design

2015 Travel Trends from Creative Lodging Solutions

Whatever is trending in the graphic design world usually makes its way into the most modern-looking slide decks.

The presentation above, for example, incorporates flat design principles to create a clean and minimalist look.

7. Originality

The Search for Meaning in B2B Marketing from Velocity Partners

Another way to attract attention is to create something original; something with your own personal touch.

A perfect example of this is Doug Kessler’s presentation on finding meaning in B2B marketing, seen above. Here, we see that the same background image is used throughout, giving viewers the sense that the presenter is sharing intimate thoughts from his personal journal.

This is also a perfect example of how a clear storyline is combined with attractive visuals in the form of colorful doodles and big, bold text. This not only attracts the reader as they read or hear the presentation, but it also makes it much more memorable since it mimics an informal conversation or a riveting story told by an expert narrator.

8. Creative Use of Typography

Crap. The Content Marketing Deluge. From Velocity Partners

Another way to showcase your creative side is to play with typography to get your message across. In the simple presentation above, for example, the author only uses typography, spacing and symbols to send a very clear message that makes a lasting impression.

9. Effective Use of Colors

What Would Steve Do? from HubSpot

Not only does typography send a message all on its own; colors do as well.

Take the above presentation. If you look at slides 16 to 31, you’ll find that the use of bright, bold accent colors contrasts perfectly with the darker, subdued background color–which works in unison with the animation effects to create a perfectly weaved storyline that drives a crystal clear message home.

10. Creating Content for the Context

You Suck At PowerPoint! from Jesse Desjardins

Another trend–which will simply be a continuation of the present–is the creation of presentations designed specifically for their context.

The above slide deck, for example, was designed to be published online rather than to be delivered as a live presentation.

About the Author

Nayomi Chibana

Nayomi Chibana is a journalist and writer for Visme’s Visual Learning Center. She has an M.A. in Journalism and Media from the University of Hamburg in Germany and was an editor of a leading Latin American political investigative magazine for several years. She has a passion for researching trends in interactive long form media.  She can be reached via email at or on Twitter at @nchibana.

PowerPoint 2016: A Tale of Two Adjectives

Modern journalism is replete with examples of misused and overhyped adjectives, so I want to make it clear that I thought long and hard about the ones I am about to offer to sum up my thoughts about the new version of PowerPoint. Version 2016 of PowerPoint is wonderfully exciting in its promise for better work, and at the same time, maddeningly exasperating in its refusal to eliminate tedious work. We’ll take these adjectives in order.

The Power of Morph

The biggest news in version 2016 is the addition of the Morph transition. Keynote users will see this as PowerPoint’s response to Magic Move; PowerPoint users might see it as the answer to their longtime pleas for more control over objects in motion. With Morph, you can build animations just by creating two versions of objects on adjacent slides and telling the software to figure it out. Here is how this new function works:

  1. Create an object on a slide.
  2. Copy it to the next slide and change the object in some way (size, position, color, rotation, etc.)
  3. Choose Morph as the transition between the two slides

PowerPoint will create the animation for you. So if you want a circle to turn from black to blue, it might be easier to use the Morph transition between two slides than to wrestle with the Fill Color emphasis. Special effects text that needs to rotate and move will probably be easier performed with Morph than with the pair of conventional animations that would need to be created. If you want a large logo to move from the center of a title slide, down to the footer position, shrinking down as it goes, Morph can do it in half the time. And perhaps most important, if you need to move an object from one exact position to another exact position, Morph will appear in your dreams because the motion path animations have never offered coordinate control, requiring extensive trial and error. Now you simply move the object to its exact resting position and animate the motion with Morph.

To use Morph on an object, you need to make a copy of it; that’s how PowerPoint knows what you want to morph from and to. So you essentially create a “from object” and then on the next slide a “to object.” This is not a true morphing tool — for instance, if you create a basic rectangle and then rotate its “to” version, Morph will handle this nicely. But if you change the “to” object to a trapezoid or if you change its basic shape by editing its points, Morph will not be able to figure this out. I had high hopes that I could use morph to turn the letter R into a B; perhaps in the next version.

These limitations aside, the tool carries a high promise of being a big time-saver. The short video below is a bit juvenile but is significant in that it took me barely 10 minutes to create.

Each object created on the sunny slide has a corresponding object on the sunset slide with basic tweaks made to its position, color, or visibility. Creating this simple effect with animation would have taken longer and been much more tedious as I would have had to wrestle with multiple overlapping objects and various motion paths.

Finally, PowerPoint can now much more easily create realistic Prezi-like zooms. Here’s hoping that our community doesn’t get drunk with that.

Better Designs with Designer?

Is it possible for an algorithm to create well-designed PowerPoint slides? Can a software program design better slides than you or I could? Microsoft is banking on yes to these questions with the debut of Designer, a cloud-based reservoir of designs, each of which is ready to be integrated with existing templates on your command.

I found the results ranging from proficient to deficient. In some cases, PowerPoint’s new Design Ideas task pane did not hesitate to offer suggestions, even when there was no design motif at all. In fact, I found some of the best ideas came from slides that used the standard and unadorned template.

The photo sequence below shows the simple nature of Designer: You import a photo, invoke the Design Ideas task pane, and after rummaging through its database of designs, if Designer thinks that it can offer up a nice design, it makes it available for download.

PPT Screen shots - AltmanIn this sequence, dropping this plain photo onto a title slide invokes several suggestions and choosing one of them produced this nice result. Designer doesn’t know what it is cutting off, so you’ll always need to be the final arbiter. In this case, one of the suggested treatments placed a text box directly over the typing hands.

Importing this same photo onto a Title Only or a Blank slide produced no suggestions at all. About half the time did I find useful suggestions for Title and Content (i.e. main) slides. And more often than not, photos placed on Section Header layouts produced no results at all. That was surprising to me, as that layout seems like an optimal candidate to entertain suggestions for creative use. Microsoft has stated that the tool will evolve with use and will soon begin supporting more slide types.

So we consider this to be an interesting work in progress and we hope that it does not make lazy slide designers out of us. The results are often good enough to tempt users to click once on a suggested design and call it a day. We hope that doesn’t happen; we hope that you use Designer as a springboard for creativity and inspiration, as a starting point for a clean, coordinated, and integrated set of slides. The responsibility for that will be yours. Always.

Who Gets to Use These?

One of the more confounding aspects of these two new features is when they might actually show up on your interface. The first review copy that was made available to me by Microsoft’s PR team contained neither Morph nor Designer and that helps explain why there are several reviews of PowerPoint 2016 on the Web today that make no mention of either feature. I have been assured that every subscriber to Office 365 and every customer of Office 2016 will eventually have access to Morph and Designer.

If you did not completely understand that last sentence, you have company, as the relationship between Office 2016 and Office 365 is shrouded in confusion. Office 2016 is a software product while Office 365 is a subscription service. If you subscribe to Office 365, you are said to be in perpetual upgrade, with every patch, update, .1 release, or brand new version of Office being pushed out to you right away.

Other Niceties

PowerPoint 2016 inherits from Excel several new chart types (“Box and Whisker,” anyone?), better collaboration with slide decks saved to the cloud, and an interesting “Tell me what you want to do” search bar, which is actually known as the Tell Me bar. I was cynical of this at first when I expected it to take the place of online Help. But when I just started using it for routine commands — type “italic” to change selected type to italic, “increase size” to increment text, “fill” to reach the Shape Fill dialog — it became a nice time-saver. It became even better when I discovered that I could invoke it with Alt+Q. And it will become better still when I can use my microphone to communicate directly with it without having to lift a finger.

No Rest for the Finger Weary

Now we get to the maddening part: for the third consecutive release, very little has been done to make the interface more approachable or functions more usable. In this regard PowerPoint lags way behind modern software, in some cases by over a decade. In addition, no action has been taken to address what I and several others who comment on the industry believe to be the No. 1 problem facing presentation content creators today: the use of slides both for visuals as well as for printed handouts.

I have written about this on multiple occasions and it is not a happy walk down memory lane. In February of 2012, I posted my PowerPoint Wish List, and in May of 2013, I published a lengthy review of PowerPoint 2013. In these postings, I noted the following deficiencies with the software:

  • The Handout Master does not promote the creation of professional handouts, only the printing of slides. Most observers of the industry dismiss the value of this; I happen to believe that printing slides is a leading cause of Death by PowerPoint.
  • No style function for Animation. Imagine how much more productive we would be if we could create styles called, say, Two-Second Fade After Previous, and Wipe Right On Click, or Grow 200% and Move 200 Pixels Left. And imagine how powerful it would be if you needed to adjust animation settings across several dozen elements and all you had to do was modify the style that controls them. My graphic drawing program has been doing that since 1994; it’s time that PowerPoint did it, too.
  • Table Animation. How come we have been able to animate charts and graphs for nearly a decade, but simple text placed in rows and columns is not given the same capability?
  • No marquee zooming possible with the mouse. To effectively zoom in, you must first select the objects.
  • No true keystroke assignment to functions. How is it that I could do that in the version of Word released in 1996, but I still can’t do it in PowerPoint?

Nearly four years and two major software releases later, these five shortcomings have gone completely unaddressed. I don’t expect the PowerPoint development team to take on these issues just because I raise them, but I have had lots of company. If you set aside No. 1 above, which is philosophical and subject to some debate, the other four speak to tasks that regular users need to perform constantly but must make many extra clicks and mouse motions in order to do so. PowerPoint reigns as one of the most tedious programs to use because of these types of oversights, and the development team has been hearing about it for nearly a decade. I keep thinking that, one of these development cycles, Microsoft will try to bring some relief to those in the trenches who must click their mouses so many times to overcome the interface. Think about what we must do to apply a Fade to an object, set to take place automatically, and last for one second:

  1. Click Fade from the gallery of choices.
  2. Click on Start box (you cannot tab there from the gallery).
  3. Click After Previous (even though you might have done that the last 10 times, this dialog will not remember and will always default to On Click).
  4. Click on Duration (which is right underneath Start, but cannot be tabbed into).
  5. Change the value to 1.

Whatever you do, don’t choose to experiment with a Wipe instead of the Fade, because when you do, PowerPoint will instantly set the start back to On Click and the duration to .5 seconds.

PowerPoint is uniquely unfriendly in this regard, showing no ability to remember your preferred settings, providing no way to set defaults, and offering poor or non-existent interaction between related interface settings. I am one of many who has pointed out these interface deficiencies for nearly a decade but the development team has barely made a public acknowledgment of them. In an age when Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Trigger Finger are responsible for so many lost hours in the workforce, PowerPoint has done nothing to reduce the number of mouse clicks required to perform the most perfunctory tasks.

Morph is a wonderful tool, and Designer will help users develop instincts for better slide design. At some point, though, the PowerPoint development team has to realize that the greatest gift it can give to its user base is to enable them to do their work more efficiently, with fewer clicks and, with less risk to physical injury.

About the Author:

Rick-AltmanRick Altman has been hired by hundreds of companies, listened to by tens of thousands of professionals, and read by millions of people, all of whom seek better results with their presentation content and delivery. He is the host of the annual Presentation Summit conference, set this year for October 23rd- 26th in Las Vegas. Rick also is the author of the book Why Most PowerPoint Presentations Suck & How You Can Make Them Better.  For more information about his company visit

Webinar Preview: “Two Charting Shortcuts for Faster PowerPoint Visuals”

ad with spaceEveryone knows that working in PowerPoint can take a lot of time…especially formatting.

And the biggest culprit is charts.

Just look at how many formatting adjustments (nothing fancy) you have to make for the various PowerPoint objects:

  • 1 to 3 adjustments for lines
  • 2 to 8 adjustments for shapes
  • 3 to 10 adjustments for tables
  • 1 to 3 adjustments for pictures
  • 15 to 30 adjustments for charts

Did you notice the amount for charts!? That’s 3 to 15 times as many adjustments!

And that doesn’t even include the fun charting stuff like working with both a primary and secondary axis or graphing a phantom series for data labels.

By the way, graphing a phantom series for data labels is the secret for getting “real” totals on top of a stacked column chart (which is not a default charting option).

See the picture below…can you see what I did to get them?

Taylor 1

This will be one of the little tricks – getting a correct total on top of a stacked column chart – that I’ll be covering in the upcoming charting webinar on Wednesday, January 20th at 11 am PT/ 2 pm ET. If you want to learn more charting tricks, sign up for next week’s free webinar.

Anyway, so back to formatting. A couple of shapes can cost you 4 to 16 formatting adjustments.

A couple of graphs (not even the complicated ones) will cost you 30 to 60 formatting adjustments.

And that’s why knowing your PowerPoint shortcuts is so important!

Two Charting Shortcuts Worth Knowing

The two charting shortcuts below will make your life a lot easier when working with and formatting your chart.

Hit play to see them in action or scroll down the page to read more about them.

Taylor 2

CHARTING SHORTCUT #1 Selecting a Chart So You Can Move It

There are two different ways to select a chart in PowerPoint:

  • Selecting the chart as a chart so you can edit it
  • Selecting a chart as an object so you can move it with your arrow keys.

And it’s the second method for selecting a chart that has a secret shortcut that 90% of people don’t know about. Let’s take a look.

Charting Shortcut #1: Ctrl + mouse click

To select a chart as an object that you can move, you need to hold down the CTRL key and then select it with your mouse.

This selects the chart as a normal PowerPoint object that you can then move with your arrow keys.

Notice the different corners of the two charts selected below. The chart on the left is a chart selected as a chart, and the chart on the right is a chart selected as an object.

Normally (as I show you in the video above) if you simply select a chart and use your arrow keys to try and move it, you simply rotate between the different chart elements (title, legend, series 1, series 2, etc.)

taylor 3

The chart itself doesn’t move.

On the other hand, if you hold the CTRL key down and select your chart, you will notice the corners get little filled-in circles (see picture above) and you can then move the chart with your arrow keys.

Go ahead, give it a shot!

CHARTING SHORTCUT #2: Formatting Anything Faster

The second charting shortcut allows you to get at the formatting options of ANYTHING within your chart MUCH faster.

Charting Shortcut #2: CTRL+1

This is your golden ticket to formatting anything faster within your charts.

Simply select something within your chart (an axis, a series, the title, the gridlines, etc.) and hit CTRL+1 on your keyboard.

Hitting CTRl+1 launches the format options dialog box SPECIFICALLY for that charting element you just selected.

This allows you to immediately make the adjustments you need (removing tick marks, adjusting the vertical axis, etc.) without having to dig through a bunch of file menus and charting options to find them.

This is a huge charting lifesaver, and you can see it in action in the video above.

Learn More During the Charting Webinar on January 20th

So those are two charting shortcuts to get you started with your charts and visuals…

And I’ll be sharing a bunch more in the upcoming webinar. Click the button below to sign up for free and I’ll see you next week.




About our Author:

Taylor-PortraitTaylor Croonquist is the shortcut and productivity guru for Nuts and Bolts Speed Training company, which helps companies build better PowerPoint slides in shorter time frames. Hailing from the home of Microsoft and Starbucks, he came up with the “One Armed Mouse” technique in order to be able to combine these two passions: PowerPoint-ing with a coffee in one hand and a mouse in the other. For more information about the company’s services, visit  Email Taylor at


Star Wars Style Credits Animation in PowerPoint 2013

Learn how to create Star Wars style credits animation in PowerPoint.

Did you want to add a Star Wars credits style animation within your PowerPoint slide? In this style, text crawls from bottom to the top, and the text size reduces until it fades off the slide! This is an amazing effect, and you can make this effect happen in PowerPoint 2013 or any other version.

Follow these steps to learn more:

    1. First download the StarfieldPowerPoint template from Indezine that has a suitable night sky /space background image.
    2. You will find both Standard and Widescreen templates in the download. Double-click one of these StarfieldPowerPoint template files to launch PowerPoint with a new presentation, based on this template.Now save the file with a new name. If your presentation has two slides, you can delete one of the slides. Next change the Slide Layout of the remaining slide to Blank, as shown in Figure 1, below.starwarscreditsani2013-01 - figure 1 - geetesh
      Figure 1: Slide layout changed to Blank
    3. Now insert a Text Box. Type the credits text, as shown in Figure 2. Align the textas needed. We also changed the color of the text to white.Figure 2 - Geetesh - PXpert Jan 2016
      Figure 2: Text added
    4. Move Text Box to the bottom of the slide. Access the Animationstab on the Ribbon, as shown in Figure 3. With the Text Box selected, click the Add Animation button, as shown highlighted in red within Figure 3.Figure 3 - Geetesh - PXpert Jan 2016
      Figure 3: Add Animation button
    5. This brings up theAdd Animation drop-down gallery. Choose the Motion Paths | Lines animation option, as shown in Figure 4.
      Figure 4 - Geetesh - PXpert Jan 2016                                                                                   Figure 4: Add Line animation


  • You will see a Motion Path animation applied, as shown inFigure 5.Figure 5
    Figure 5: Motion Path animation added
  • We need the direction of the Motion Path to be Up. To do that, click the Effect Options button in the Animations tab of the Ribbon. From the drop-down menu that appears, choose the Up option, as shown in Figure 6.
    starwarscreditsani2013-05 - figure 6                                                                                                                                                           Figure 6: Up effect option
  • Click the Animation Pane button to bring up the Animation Pane, as shown in Figure 7, below. Double-click the Motion Path animation (highlighted in red within Figure 7).figure 7
    Figure 7: Motion Path within Animation Pane
  • This will bring up the Up dialog box, as shown in Figure 8. Within this dialog box, access the Effect tab, and match your values to the ones shown in Figure 8, below.figure 8
    Figure 8: Effect tab within Up dialog box
  • Next access the Timing tab in the same dialog box and match your values to the ones shown in Figure 9, below.
    Figure 9
    Figure 9: Timing tab within Up dialog box
  • Now select the Motion Path on your slide – this is the path that has a green and a red arrowhead on either side. If you see two white handles on either side of the Motion Path, you then know that the path is selected.Figure 10
    Figure 10: Fine-tuned motion path
  • Drag the white handle on the top of your Motion Path to the top of the slide. Ensure that the bottom of the Motion Path is somewhere close to the bottom of your slide, as shown in Figure 10. You might want to preview the animation to fine-tune the placements of the top and bottom ends of your Motion Path.
  • With your text box still selected, add another animation. The animation you need to add now is Emphasis | Grow/Shrink. Next, double-click the Grow/Shink animation in the Animation Pane, as previously explained in Step 7. Within the Effect tab of the Grow/Shrink dialog box, match your values to the ones you see in Figure 11, below.
    Figure 11                                                                                          Figure 11: Effect tab within Grow/Shrink dialog box
  • Similarly, access the Timing tab of the same dialog box, and match your values to those shown in Figure 12, below. Do note that we changed the Start value to With Previous. This ensures that the selected animation will happen along with our previous animation, simultaneously.                                                                                       Figure 12
    Figure 12: Timing tab within Grow/Shrink dialog box
  • Let us now explore what we have achieved so far. The first animation we added was a Motion Path that moved the text box from the bottom of the slide upwards. The second animation was an Emphasis animation that reduced the size of the text box. Moreover, the second animation happened at the same time as the first one. We still need to add a third animation so that our text box fades into oblivion as it exits upwards from the slide.To do so, make sure that your text box is selected. Then add an Exit | Fade Next, double-click the Fade animation in the Animation Pane, as previously explained in Step 7. Within the Timing tab of the Fade dialog box, match your values to the ones you see in Figure 13, below.Figure 13
    Figure 13: Timing tab within Fade dialog box                                                                                                             Since we require all the three animations to happen simultaneously, we chose the same speed for all three. Notice that the Duration value is set to 3 seconds (Slow) in Figure 13, above. You will notice the same durations for the other two animations in Figures 9 and 12. If you want to choose a different speed, you’ll need to change the Duration value in all three animations.
  • Next, drag the text box downwards to outside the Slide Area. This will ensure that the text is not seen in a non-animated state while viewing in Slide Show view. Preview and fine-tune again as required. You might want to extend the motion path upwards to compensate for the added downward distance of the text box, as shown in Figure 14, below.
    starwarscreditsani2013-12- figure 14                                                          Figure 14: Text re-arranged
  • Duplicate the text box by copying and pasting as many text boxes you need. Change the text credits as required by typing over the existing text, and then place the new text boxes immediately over the earlier text box. You will repeat to create as many text boxes as required. Since all the text boxes overlap each other, it might be a little difficult to edit the text within them later. Use the Tab key to select each of these text boxes one at a time so that you don’t make changes inadvertently in a text box that you did not intend to edit!
  • Preview your slide. You might also want to download a copy of the presentation Geetesh created to check the settings used.


Want something ready to use which is not quite the Star Wars style credits? Download Indezine’s Zoom in Zoom Out Credits and Horizontal Credits credit animation sample files.

About the Author:  

GeeteshGeetesh Bajaj is an awarded Microsoft PowerPoint MVP (Most Valuable Professional) for over a decade now. He has been designing and training with PowerPoint for 15 years and heads Indezine, a presentation design studio and content development organization based out of Hyderabad, India. Geetesh believes that any PowerPoint presentation is a sum of its elements–these elements include abstract elements like concept, color, interactivity, and navigation–and also slide elements like shapes, graphics, charts, text, sound, video, and animation. He explains how these elements work together in his best-selling book Cutting Edge PowerPoint for Dummies–the book has several five-star ratings on He has also authored three subsequent books on PowerPoint 2007 for Windows, and one on PowerPoint 2008 for Mac. His site attracts more than two million page views each month and has thousands of free PowerPoint templates and other goodies for visitors to download. In addition, Geetesh also issues a bi-weekly PowerPoint newsletter on that has a hundred thousand subscribers. And yes– has so much more–product reviews, personality interviews, a busy blog, and even a presentation bank.  Follow him on Twitter at @Geetesh. Or email him at


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