A Review of the PowerPoint 2013 Interface

The PowerPoint 2013 interface is similar, yet somewhat different than the interface of PowerPoint 2010. The biggest change is that 2013’s interface is primed for use on tablets, touch-screens and smart phones (other than conventional desktops). Thus, you can swipe and tap your way through a presentation — and also make several edits without the need of a cursor.

Instead of opening with a blank presentation, PowerPoint 2013 opens a Presentation gallery as shown in Figure 1. The Presentation gallery provides several ways to start your next presentation using a template, a Theme, a recent presentation, a not-so-recent presentation, or even a blank presentation. Once you make choices in this Presentation gallery, you see the actual PowerPoint interface.


Figure 1: PowerPoint 2013 Presentation gallery

A quick walkthrough of PowerPoint 2013 reveals some new  features. Figure 2 shows a screenshot of the PowerPoint 2013 interface — each part of the interface is explained later in this article.


Figure 2:
PowerPoint 2013 interface

  1. File Menu and Backstage View: When you click the File menu, you see the Backstage view that contains all the creation, save, share, and print options for your presentations, as shown in Figure 3. Learn More about File Menu and Backstage View in PowerPoint 2013.
    pptinterface2013-03Figure 3: File Menu leads to the Backstage View
  2. Quick Access Toolbar (QAT): Is  a customizable toolbar placed by default above the Ribbon — here you can add icons for your often used commands. Also the QAT can also be placed below the Ribbon. Learn more about Quick Access Toolbar in PowerPoint 2013.
  3. Ribbon: Ribbon has tabs which in turn contain groups of buttons for various options — some groups also contain galleries (for example galleries for Themes and Theme Colors). Learn more about Ribbon and Tabs in PowerPoint 2013.
  4. Slides Pane: Located on the left side of the interface, the Slides pane shows thumbnails of all the slides in the open presentation.
    Note: If the Slides  pane is not visible, click the Normal button in the View tab of the Ribbon.
  5. Slide Area: Displays the active slide.
  6. Task Pane: The Task Pane contains more options and appears when you choose an option in one of the Ribbon tabs — for example if you click the Format Background button within the Design tab of the Ribbon, the Format Background task pane opens (refer to Figure 1).
  7. Status Bar: A horizontal strip that provides information about the opened presentation like slide number, applied Theme, etc. It also includes the view and zoom options. The View buttons  are explained below (see point I).
  8. Notes Pane: Right below the active slide, this is where the speaker notes are written for the current slide. Note that none of this content is visible on the actual slide while presenting — although it is visible in both Notes Page view and Presenter view.
  9. View Buttons: Essentially there are three view buttons on the status bar displayed towards the left of the zoom-in and zoom-out options:
    • Normal: If you are in some other view such as Slide Sorter view – click the Normal button on the Status bar to switch to Normal view, Shift-clicking this gets you to Slide Master view.
    • Slide Sorter: Click this button to switch from any other view to Slide Sorter view. The Slide Sorter view  displays zoom-able thumbnails of every slide in the open presentation. Shift-clicking this button gets you to Handout Master view.
    • Reading View: Click this button to switch from any other view to Reading view.
    • Slide Show: Show the presentation as a full screen slideshow from the current selected slide. Shift-clicking brings up the Set Up Show dialog box.
  10. Mini Toolbar: This toolbar is not shown in the Figure 3,  above. It’s a semitransparent floating toolbar that spawns right next to the cursor — and it is also available instantly with a right-click (highlighted in red within Figure 4).pptinterface2013-04

Figure 4: Mini Toolbar

About The Author:

Geetesh Bajaj has been designing and training with PowerPoint for 15 years and is a Microsoft PowerPoint MVP (Most Valuable Professional.) He heads Indezine (www.indezine.com)  a presentation design studio and content development organization based in Hyderabad, India. The site attracts more than a million page views each month and has thousands of free PowerPoint templates and other goodies for visitors to download.

An Easy Way to Spice Up PowerPoint

Most of us won’t be abandoning PowerPoint any time soon, what with the ongoing expectations — corporate or otherwise — to use the standard slide format of headline-and-bulleted text, and given the ease of crafting such content. But there are plenty of simple ways to keep audiences from tuning out during what they can perceive as a numbing parade of text-only slides.

Replacing even a few slides with visually-stimulating images is one way. For example, one slide with a picture showing a tornado in Oklahoma can communicate infinitely more than a half-dozen bullet slides describing the destructive power of Mother Nature. Project the picture and then add the spoken narration: “The winds associated with a Level 3 tornado can drive straw through a 4-inch post. And they can toss a 2,000-pound car a quarter mile.”

Adding such slides doesn’t take much extra work, and it pays off in refocusing audience attention. It also communicates to viewers that this isn’t just another cookie-cutter presentation created the night before it was delivered.

Make Life Easier with 3 Changes to PowerPoint’s Options dialog box

By Ellen Finkelstein
I’m starting to use the upcoming PowerPoint 2013 quite a bit and doing so has reminded me of some of the default PowerPoint settings that I hate. Here are three simple changes you can make that I think will make you a happier PowerPoint user. They apply to PowerPoint 2007 and 2010 as well.

No, you don’t want to automatically select the entire word!

Have you had the experience of trying to select a few characters in a word to change them? You drag across those letters, but PowerPoint jumps to select the entire word. But you don’t want to select the entire word! (This happens in Microsoft Word, too.) Grrrr! To be more specific, this behavior happens after you select one word, then as you move the mouse to select additional letters, PowerPoint selects the full preceding or following word; you cannot easily select individual letter of the words.

If you want more control, here are the steps to take:

  1. Choose File> Options. (In PowerPoint 2007, choose Office button> PowerPoint Options.)
  2. In the PowerPoint Options dialog box, click the Advanced category.
  3. Uncheck the “When Selecting, Automatically Select Entire Word” check box.
  4. Click OK.

No, you don’t want PowerPoint to change the size of your text!

Let’s say that you choose a theme or format a Slide Master for a slide title of 36 points. You choose that size because you like how it fits on your slide. Then, you type a long title and PowerPoint decides to make the text smaller to fit the title placeholder. All of a sudden, you have slide titles of different sizes and as you go from slide to slide, you don’t know what you’ll get. It looks very inconsistent.

The same automatic resizing can happen in the body text placeholder.

Here are the steps to stop PowerPoint from resizing your text:

  1. Choose File> Options. (In PowerPoint 2007, choose Office button> PowerPoint Options.)
  2. Click the Proofing category.
  3. Click the AutoCorrect Options button.
  4. Choose the AutoFormat as You Type tab.
  5. Uncheck the last 2 options on the tab: Autofit Title/Body Text to Placeholder
  6. Click OK twice.


So what do you do when you have a longer title or your text doesn’t fit? Here are some ideas:

  1. Edit your text so that it’s shorter.
  2. Expand the size of the placeholder slightly.
  3. Reduce the placeholder’s internal margin. I explain how here.

Of course, you can manually reduce the size of the font; sometimes you have to. But reducing the font size should be a last resort, so you shouldn’t let PowerPoint do it automatically.

About the Author:

Ellen Finkelstein is a noted presentation design consultant, Microsoft PowerPoint MVP and a multi-published author in the presentations field. For more information, visit http://www.ellenfinkelstein.com/

From Mediocre to Memorable: 3 Slide Makeovers

By Dave Zielinski

In the inaugural event of PresentationXpert’s new Webinar Wednesdays series last month, titled Take Your Slides from Mediocre to Memorable, PowerPoint MVP Ellen Finkelstein presented a number of compelling slide design tips and “made over” slides submitted by webinar participants.

Ellen stressed that even though most PowerPoint users aren’t professional designers, they can still create lively, high- impact, visually appealing presentations. Part of that is understanding that audiences remember pictures more than they do words, since the part of the brain devoted to visual input is much larger than the part for auditory input.

That means nobody, but nobody, loves slide after slide of bulleted text.

In Ellen’s Tell ‘n Show method, slide design is much more simplified. Text and visual, text and visual is the cadence. In this method a simple, explanatory heading goes on each slide, and there is often only one point per slide, meaning you may need to expand one slide to four.

Also, when you have text on a slide, think about how you can convey the concepts visually. Try to use photos that are literal or symbolic, or use iconic line art.

Here are makeovers of three different slides that demonstrate some of these concepts:

1) The Before version. Notice the lack of appealing graphics and text-heavy approach in this slide. To make the slide more compelling, Ellen converted it to SmartArt for PowerPoint 2007 and 2010, added a photo and rearranged some text. Used wisely, SmartArt can add color, shape and emphasis to data and text.


The After version:


2) The Before version. This slide not only is difficult  for audiences to read with its small font sizes, it’s text heavy. Ellen again used SmartArt to convert this slide to a more visually-appealing and easily-understood alternative, and made some changes in Excel as well.

The After version:


3) The Before version:

The First After Slide:


The Second After slide:


How to Use 3D Rotation Techniques in PowerPoint

In this article, I explain in detail how to use 3D rotation. I start with PowerPoint 2007 and PowerPoint 2010; then I explain where to find similar features in PowerPoint 2003.

In Part I of this series, on shadows, I showed you how to use shadows for both subtle and dramatic 3D effects. The second 3D technique I want to cover is bevels, which I’ve already explored in greater detail in this post, “Create professional-looking 3D effects with bevels.”

Bevels often work hand-in-hand with 3D rotation, especially when you specify a depth in the 3-D Format section of the Format Shape dialog box. That’s because you can’t see the depth until you rotate the object. These 2 objects (above) are the same, but only the right one shows the depth, because you’re looking at it from an angle. That’s what 3D rotation does–it shows you an object from an angle.

Many people are unaware of the 3D features of PowerPoint, but they’ve been around for a long time. Even PowerPoint 2003 lets you rotate objects in 3D, although the controls are not as precise.

Use 3D Rotation in PowerPoint 2007 and 2010

To create a shape with depth and rotate it, follow these steps in PowerPoint 2007 and 2010:

  1. Insert a shape.
  2. With the shape selected, right-click it and choose Format Shape. Move the Format Shape dialog box away from your shape so you can see both at the same time.
  3. Choose the 3-D Format category and enter a depth in the Depth section. Note that PowerPoint measures depth in points. There are 72 points in an inch. I created a rounded rectangle with a depth of 72 points, or 1 inch. PowerPoint adds the depth to the back of the object.
  4. Click the 3-D Rotation category in the Format Shape dialog box.

  1. Before fiddling with the X, Y and Z controls, try out some of the presets from the Presets drop-down list. You might find what you’re looking for in a lot less time.
  2. The X boxes rotate the shape to the left or right. This is a horizontal rotation because the X-axis is the horizontal axis. Enter a rotation or click the Left or Right boxes repeatedly until you get the rotation you want.
  3. The Y boxes rotate the shape up and down. This is a vertical rotation because the Y axis is the vertical axis. Enter a rotation or click the Up or Down boxes repeatedly until you get the rotation you want.
  4. The Z boxes rotate the shape clockwise and counterclockwise. Think of the Z axis sticking out of your computer monitor straight toward you. Then the shape rotates around that axis. Enter a rotation or click the Clockwise or Counterclockwise boxes repeatedly until you get the rotation you want. A Z-rotation is just like rotating a shape in 2D.

Note: When you use more than one axis, PowerPoint calculates first the X value, then the Y, and finally the Z, so that the effects are additive.

Here is a rounded rectangle with various X, Y and Z rotations:

9. You can also create perspective views and control the amount of foreshortening. If the Perspective item is grayed out, click the Presets drop-down list and choose one of the Perspective options. Then enter a number (in degrees) in the Perspective box, or click the arrow buttons. Here you see two rounded rectangles, one with 75° perspective and the other with 0° perspectives. Do you see how the left shape narrows at the bottom? That’s the foreshortening effect.

10. There’s also an interesting setting, Distance from Ground, also measured in points. You’ll be able to see the effect better from certain angles than from others. In effect, this moves the object forward or backward if you’re looking down from the top. Yes, you can even use a negative number!  But your object never disappears behind the slide, so it’s really an as-if effect.

PowerPoint 2003 Can Do 3D Too!

In PowerPoint 2003, select an AutoShape and click the 3-D Style button on the Drawing toolbar at the bottom of your screen. Choose a view. At the bottom of the 3-D Style menu, choose 3-D Settings to open the 3-D Settings toolbar. There you can nudge the view using the Tilt Up, Tilt Down, Tilt Left, and Tilt Right buttons. You can also change the depth of the object. Use the Direction button to change the viewpoint and choose a Parallel or Perspective view.

Cautions when using 3D

Here are 2 cautions when using 3D:

  1. Keep the same point of view for all objects on a slide and even for all slides.
  2. Don’t over-use 3D; it can make a slide overly busy and harder to understand.

About the Author:

Ellen Finkelstein can train you or your team to create high-impact, engaging, professional presentations for training, sales, business, or education. For more information on her PowerPoint/presentation training workshops and coaching, click here.

6 Big Don’ts for Ending Your Presentation

By Ben Decker

Even the strongest speakers can undercut a whole presentation with three seconds of wobbly indecision at the end. Those few seconds amount to the last impression you leave with your audience – it’s the last picture people will remember of you. You’ve spent your whole presentation building credibility for yourself and your idea, and that last impression has everything to do with how you hold yourself.

Watch your nonverbal behavior and body language. Not even a line like Patrick Henry’s, “Give me liberty…!” can bail you out if you act nervous, disgusted, insincere, or hurried. Here are six essential don’ts for ending your presentation.

1. Never blackball yourself

…with a critical grimace, a shake of the head, eyes rolled upward, a disgusted little sigh. So what if you’re displeased with yourself? Don’t insult your audience by letting them know you were awful; they probably thought you were pretty good. One lip curl in those last three seconds can wreck 30 minutes of credibility-building. Keep a light smile on your face, and you can grimace at the mirror in the bathroom later if you want.

2. Don’t step backwards

If anything, take a half-step toward your listeners at the end. Stepping back is a physical retreat, and audiences subconsciously pick up on this cue. While you’re at it, don’t step back verbally, either. Softening your voice and trailing off toward the end obviously doesn’t sound confident. Maintain your strong vocal projection, annunciation, and pitch variety. You need to end with a bang, not a whimper.

3. Don’t look away

Some speakers harken back to the last visual-aid or PowerPoint slide, as if for reinforcement. Some people look aside, unwilling to confront listeners dead in the eye at the last words. Murmuring thank you while staring off somewhere else isn’t the last impression you want to leave. Maintain good eye communication throughout.

4. Don’t leave your hands in a gestured position

In our programs, we recommend using the resting ready position (arms gently at the sides) at the end to physically signal your audience you’re finished. You must let them go visually, in addition to the closing remarks you’re making. If you keep your hands up at waist level, you look as if you have something more to say. In speaking, think of yourself as the gracious host or hostess as you drop your hands with an appreciative thank you.

5. Don’t rush to collect your papers

Or visual aids or displays. Stop and chat with people if the meeting is breaking up, then begin to tidy up in a calm, unhurried manner.  Otherwise, you may contradict your calm, confident demeanor as a presenter. Behavioral cues are being picked up by your audience throughout the entire presentation experience, even during post-presentation.

If you sit down and grimace or huff and puff, listeners notice that, too.

6. Don’t move on the last word

Plant your feet and hold still for a half-beat after the you in thank you. Think about adding some lightness and smile with your thank you to show your comfort and ease. You don’t want to look anxious to get out of there. If anything, you want to let people know you’ve enjoyed being with them and are sorry you have to go. Don’t rush off.

Paying attention to your behaviors at the end of your presentation, whether formal at the lectern or informal standing at a meeting, will project the confidence and credibility you seek.

About the Author:

Ben Decker is the president of Decker Communications, a presentation skills consulting firm that coaches senior executives and managers to transform business communications.  For more information, visit Decker Communications at www.decker.com

How to Use the ‘Remove Background’ Option in PowerPoint

By Geetesh BajajThe Remove Background option is among PowerPoint’s newest and most wonderful abilities. It lets you remove the background from an inserted picture — this can be a great feature if you want to remove a sky, a wall, any backdrop, or something else in a photograph so that the slide background shows through as transparent within the removed parts of the picture.Follow these steps to learn how the Remove Background option works:1. Before you start, we assume you already have a picture inserted on your slide. It helps if the parts of the picture you want to remove are fairly different in color from the rest of the picture, although as you get more proficient with PowerPoint’s Remove Background option, you will be able to work with more complicated compositions.Look at our sample picture, as shown in Figure 1 — you will notice that the color of the flower is distinctly different from the rest of the picture.

Figure 1:
Picture with fairly distinct background and foreground areas2. Select the picture to bring up the Format Picture tab (highlighted in red in Figure 2) of the Ribbon. Activate this contextual tab by clicking on it — locate the Adjust group, and click the Remove Background button (highlighted in blue in Figure 2).

Figure 2:
Remove Background button within Format Picture tab of the RibbonOnce you click the Remove Background button, PowerPoint makes a guess and shows the areas that it ascertains you want to remove (see Figure 3).

Figure 3:
Background area selected by default for removalIn addition, note these changes in the PowerPoint interface:a. You will see a selection box, indicated by the eight handles shown in Figure three. You use these handles to resize the selection box.b. You will also see the Background Removal message window providing you with the instructions for removing the picture background. Of course, you can close it at any time by clicking the Close (x) button on its top left.c. The active slide within the Slides Pane will show a preview of the picture with the background areas removed, as shown highlighted in green in Figure 3. Nothing is removed yet — this is just a preview.

3. You can see that a major portion of the picture has been covered with a pink overlay. This pink overlay indicates the background areas to be removed. Only those areas that still show the original colors of the picture will be retained.At this stage, you need to drag the handles of the selection box to help PowerPoint decide the areas of the picture you want to remove or retain as explained below:a. You can remove more areas by making the selection box smaller. Click on any of the handles and drag inside the picture area — wait for a while for PowerPoint to add more pink areas to your picture.b.You can retain areas by making the selection box larger. Click and drag any of the handles outwards — again wait for a while thereafter for PowerPoint to reduce the pink areas within your picture.Figure 4 shows the picture with the selection box resized to reduce the pink areas. Compare the areas highlighted in pink in Figures 3 and 4.

Figure 4: Pink overlaid areas reduced by enlarging the selection boxFor simple pictures, this is all you need to do. If you are happy with the results, go ahead and click anywhere on the slide outside the picture, or just press the Return key on your keyboard. This will make all pink overlaid background areas of the selected picture transparent, as shown in Figure 5 below.
Figure 5: Picture with background removed

4 . Save your presentation.
If your picture is busy and does not have clearly demarcated areas, then consider exploring our Advanced Remove Background Options tutorial.Tip: The Remove Background works not only with inserted pictures, but also works with any picture that is used as a fill for a shape.

About the Author:
Geetesh Bajaj has been designing and training with PowerPoint for 15 years and is a Microsoft PowerPoint MVP (Most Valuable Professional.) He heads Indezine (www.indezine.com)  a presentation design studio and content development organization based in Hyderabad, India. The site attracts more than a million page views each month and has thousands of free PowerPoint templates and other goodies for visitors to download. He also runs another PowerPoint- related site (http://www.ppted.com) that provides designer PowerPoint templates.
Geetesh also is the author of the best-selling book Cutting Edge PowerPoint for Dummies and three subsequent books on PowerPoint 2007 for Windows and one on PowerPoint 2008 for Mac.

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