Secret Features of PowerPoint

August 7, 2021
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Creating presentations has become a challenge lately. Everybody wants to be authentic and to convey their message in the best visual they can. This takes time and PowerPoint templates are not enough in a business meeting or a keynote speech. 

Luckily there are many ways to personalise your presentation and create the design you need, as PowerPoint offers you a multitude of features. In a previous article we covered 84 shortcuts that will help you be more efficient.

Read also: 84 PowerPoint shortcuts to improve your presentation game

If you are using PowerPoint for presentations you already know a few tricks of this tool, but do you know these secrets?


1. Make the quick access toolbar the way you want

Yes, you can put anything you want in the quick access bar, preferably the tools you use the most when creating a presentation. It comes with a predefined set of commands, but you can choose to customise it with your frequent commands. 

Jumping from tab to tab to find the command you need is boring and inefficient. Have the features you use most often readily available in the Quick Access Toolbar, how to do it:

  • Right-click the designated feature, a drop-down menu will appear, choose Add to Quick Access Toolbar.
  • Something you don’t want in the toolbar anymore? Do the steps in reverse.

If efficiency is what you eat for breakfast, you can also customize your own Ribbon


2. Match colors with the Eyedropper Tool

A sign of a good presentation are the matching colors. PowerPoint introduced the eyedropper tool in the More Colors menu option for every shape outline, shadow settings, shape fills line options, chart fills, and anywhere you can use colors. It doesn’t take long and will be a 100% match with the color you want to copy. 


3. Align everything in your presentation with the Grid System

Good alignment might go unnoticed and only seem natural to your audience, but any badly proportioned elements will pop right out and distract them. It all goes back to the golden spiral, based on the golden proportion, that is used in the most famous artworks and is present in our daily lives.

A badly proportioned presentation will be perceived as made in a hurry, only to be done with it. PowerPoint has a solution for this, it’s grid system. There are 3 basic types of grids: manuscript grid, column grid and modular grid. 


4. Use lines to create equal spacing between elements

Do you need to have equal spacing between your images, shapes or text boxes and not rely on the edges of the slide? Use lines to help you out. Create a line using the line function found in the Drawing subgroup of the Home tab (make sure it is completely vertical or horizontal).

Here’s how:

  • Place the line at the limit you need.

  • Duplicate the line (click on the line, CTRL+D) and move it to your other limit.

  • Duplicate the line again and place it between your elements. For example, if you want to align 3 elements, you have your 2 limit lines and 2 more in between the 3 elements.

  • Select everything and using the Align function (either found under the Arrange group in the Drawing subgroup of the Home tab; or once you select everything, the Shape Format/ Picture Format tabs will appear at the top and you have the Align function under the Arrange subgroup) select the Distribute Horizontally or Vertically depending on your needs.

Reminder: make sure that in the Align function drop-down menu you have checked the Align to Selected Objects option checked and not the Align to Slide.


5. Design your own layouts for presentation

We all know those predefined types of layout from PowerPoint. They are really useful, but also kind of boring by now. If you arrange most of your presentations in the same way it’s a good idea to create your own layouts. 

Get into the Slide Master view and start with a blank slide where you add the elements you want to use in the presentation. Placeholders are the key, with them you can insert text boxes, images, charts, titles where you want them on the new layout. 


6. Customize your paragraph styles

The first slide of the Master Slides dictates how the rest of the slides look and feel. If you need several paragraph styles (subtitle, emphasis, letter size, etc.), here’s where you can create them. We recommend that the first paragraph style you create to be the one you will use most often in the presentation. Most commonly, the text body.

First, remove the default settings and bring all the levels to the same style.

  • Select the text box (make sure you click on its edge, not inside it; clicking inside will only modify the paragraph you clicked on).

  • Type in the desired font size in the Font subgroup of the Home tab.

  • Remove bullet points (optional).

  • Enter the Paragraph options (click the small arrow in the bottom-right corner of the Paragraph subgroup) and make the changes you desire.

Now click on each paragraph and style it as you want. Change letter size, letter weight, color, highlight, you name it.

Once you get out of the Slide Master and click on a paragraph, you can cycle through the styles you created using the Increase/Decrease Indent options under the Paragraph subgroup.

WARNING: this only works when using placeholder text boxes created through the slide master.


7. Save your presentation as a template (.potx) native folder

When you choose to save a PowerPoint presentation as template (.potx), the software will present the option to save it in a specific folder (C:\Users\Documents\Custom Office Templates). Here you can place templates downloaded from the Microsoft Library or imported from third parties.

Placing your templates in this folder will provide them at your convenience in the home screen every time you open MS PowerPoint. This works for MS Word as well.


8.Content color automatically adjusting to the color of the background

Do you need a light and dark option for your presentation? You don’t want to manually change the color if the text once you switch the background?

Note: This option is for you if you need to change the design of individual slides and not the entire presentation. Otherwise, you can just change the background under the Design tab.

  • Setup the master slide for your presentation.

  • Duplicate it.

  • Click on the first slide of the second master. In the Slide Master tab, under the Background subgroup, click Background Styles and choose the right-most option which should be black if you did not play with the color palette.

  • When you go out of the Slide Master and choose to change the layout of the slides (Home tab > Layout subgroup > Layout option) you’ll be met by the dark options.

Note: this function works best when the first options in the color palette are white and black. Changing the color palette is another story 

PowerPoint is a tool with many secrets, you only need time and curiosity to find them. Each one of these secrets is meant to help you create better looking presentation and also be more efficient.

Is there any feature of PowerPoint that you consider to be a secret and want to share it with the world?


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