PowerPoint – A Document Creation Tool?

We frequently hear about how you should never use PowerPoint to create a document; many times referred to as a Slideument. Slideument was a phrase coined by presentation expert/guru Garr Reynolds. It is used to describe a PowerPoint or slideshow that is overloaded with information and looks more like a document than a slideshow that is then presented to an audience.

I fully support this view and belief that PowerPoint should never be used to present slideuments/documents. What we often forget is the key difference between presenting a document and creating a document. We should never present a document, that is we should never create a slideument. However, that doesn’t mean we can;t use PowerPoint to create documents. They could be saved as a PDF and used as a handout, brochure, report or whatever.

You might say, well PowerPoint is a presentation tool and not a document creation tool. We shouldn’t use it for something it wasn’t meant for. Instead we should use a tool made for document creation.

That is all nice and well but let’s take a moment to look at what tools we have for creating documents. Most people have only one; Microsoft Word. Some other people might have Adobe InDesign.

Adobe InDesign
Adobe InDesign is an awesome tool for creating documents. It is a true page layout tool. However, it is a feature packed software that is not intuitive to use without fairly significant training of the user. It is not really a tool that you can just open up and start using. At least most people can’t. Because of this and because most people don’t have Adobe InDesign this is not a real alternative. If you do create a large amount of documents then maybe buying InDesign and signing up for a class is the right thing to do, but for most presenters it is not worth the time and effort to learn this tool.

Microsoft Word
Most people that use PowerPoint have Microsoft Office installed and thus Microsoft Word available on their computer. In my opinion Word is great for writing page after page of text but as soon as you try to add any kind of graphical elements to the document Word gets a mind of its own. Typically Word thinks it knows best where graphical elements should be places as opposed to where you are trying to place them. I do not consider Word a page layout tool it is more like a text capture tool. So this is not a great alternative for people either.

Basically people have tools they know how to use that are very poor tools for document creation or they don’t have time, energy or desire to learn a new great tool for document creation.  Therefore people have created a new path, using a tool that they are familiar with that has many elements similar to a page layout tool; PowerPoint.

PowerPoint basically gives you a blank page (after you apply the blank slide template) where you can add elements like charts, tables, text boxes, images etc. anywhere you like just like in InDesign. InDesign obviously has many more features and is much more robust and suited for document creation than PowerPoint, but PowerPoint is a good substitute for most people.

Now if there were only a way to lock down the ability show those documents as slideshows it would be perfect 🙂

Slides Reuse Feature PowerPoint 2010

It has been too long since I have posted and for that I apologize. I didn’t take the time to post while on vacation in Norway. Anyway, I am back and today’s blog post is about the “Slides Reuse” feature of PowerPoint 2010.

Sometimes you may want to reuse a particular slide from another presentation you made before. Instead of having to open this presentation and copy/paste the slide from one presentation to the other, you can use the built in “Slide Reuse” feature of PowerPoint.

1. While working on a presentation in Normal view, be sure that you are looking at the “Slides” tab in the left hand side and click between the slides where you want to insert a slide from another presentation.

PowerPoint Presentation

2. On the “Home” tab, click on the little arrow (the bottom part) of the “New Slides” button in the “Slides” group. In the drop-down choose “Reuse Slides” at the bottom.

Insert New Slide

3. The Slide Reuse pane will open on the right side of the window. You will have the option to insert a slide from another presentation or from a slide library. Here we will use another PowerPoint file.

Reuse Slides Pane

4. Browse to the presentation that contains the slide you want to reuse. Click “Open”.

Browse for Presentation

5. All the slides from this presentation shows up in the Slide Reuse pane on the right side.

Slide Reuse Pane with Open Presentation

6. Click on the slide you want to insert. The slide is inserted in between the slides you chose in 1.

Presentation with Inserted Slide

You can click on another slide if you want use more slides from this presentation or browse to a different presentation or just close the Slide Reuse pane to continue working on your presentation.

How to add live webpages in PowerPoint

Today I just wanted to mention a free add-in to PowerPoint I read about over on makeuseof.com. It is a free add-in called LiveWeb that can be downloaded here.

It basically allows you to place a webpage on your PowerPoint slide. The webpage will be live meaning it will be updated (provided you are connected to the internet). You just specify the URL of the webpage and some options such as whether to refresh the webpage automatically or not and the size/shape of the webpage on the slide.

It can be a neat way to avoid having to switch applications to show the audience something from a webpage. You can read more about it on makeuseof.com and download here.

Let me know what you think about it.

How to Embed Fonts in PowerPoint 2010

When sharing a presentation with other people you may experience them calling you up saying that things are not aligned and look funny. This could be the result of you using a font in the presentation they don’t have on their computers. PowerPoint then substitutes your font with one on their system. To avoid this, it is possible to embed the fonts you use in the presentation. That’s what we are looking at today.

The place to find the settings for embedding fonts is in the PowerPoint backstage (the file tab), under “options” on the left side.

PowerPoint Backstage View

After clicking on options a new window opens up, the PowerPoint Options dialog. Click on “Save” on the left side and at the bottom of the window are the settings available for embedding fonts.

PowerPoint Options Dialog

Click the little checkbox next to “Embed fonts in the file”. There are two options; one for embedding only the characters used in the presentation and one for embedding all characters in the alphabet. By choosing the first option it will help to keep the file size down. This can be a good option if the people you are sending the presentation to are not going to edit it. If you are sharing the presentation with someone for them to make edits, then you are probably better off choosing to embed all characters.

PowerPoint Options Dialog Embed Font

And that’s how you embed fonts in your presentation.

Quick look at the iStockphoto PowerPoint Add-In

iStockphoto recently announced the release of an add-in for Microsoft PowerPoint 2007 or higher (and also one for MS Word). Today we will take a quick look at how this add-in works in Microsoft PowerPoint 2010.

The first thing you must do is to go to iStockphoto and download the add-in. Follow the steps to install the add-in. You must have an iStockphoto account and some credits so you can buy images to really get any use out of the add-in. The add-in allows you to browse and purchase images from iStockphoto directly in PowerPoint.

So lets jump right in. I have already installed the add-in so we won’t go through the installation here.

The first thing you will see after having installed the add-in is a new tab in PowerPoint; iStockphoto.

New Tab

If you select this tab you will see the iStockphoto ribbon and the different options you have. Most of them are pretty self-explanatory but here is a short description of each.

iStockphoto Ribbon

  • Search: Click on this to search for images.
  • Registration: Click here if you do not already have an iStockphoto account to sign up. You will be taken to the iStockphoto website where you can sign up.
  • About: Will give you a window in the sidebar with some information and instructions about the iStockphoto add-in.
  • Contact Us: You will be taken to the iStockphoto website contact section.
  • Login: Click here to log in to your iStockphoto account
  • Buy Credits: Click here to buy more iStockphoto credits. You will be taken to the iStockphoto website where you can purchase credits.
  • Help: This will take you to the iStockphoto add-in website help section.

The above description refers to the ribbon when you are not logged in. You need to be logged in to purchase photos. When you click the log-in button you get a pop-up window for entering your iStockphoto username/member name and password.

Log In Pop Up

After you log in, the ribbon changes slightly to reflect your logged in status. You now have access to some account information and a Logout button.

iStockphoto Ribbon Logged in

To find images, click on search in the ribbon. A search sidebar opens up.

iStockphoto ribbon search

Type a keyword into the search box and click search or press enter. Wait for the results to show up. You must be connected to the internet for the add-in to work. A list of search results appear in the sidebar.

Search Results

If you hover over the image, a larger version appears or pops-up, just like on iStockphoto.com.

Hover over image

In the search result you get some information about the image and a button to download it.

Search Result Detail

When you find your desired image, click on the Download button to buy/download the image. A window will pop-up with options about file size and license type. Choose the desired file size and license type and click Download.

Download PopUp Window

After clicking Download another window pops up with the standard iStockphoto license agreement that you need to accept to download the image.

License Agreement Pop up

Click on the Accept Agreement & Start Download button and a window will pop-up asking you where you want to save the image.

Save Image Dialog

The image will not automatically show up or be placed on your slide. You will have to import the image from the location you just saved it in to use it in your slides using your preferred method (for example Insert Tab > Picture).

Imported downloaded image into PowerPoint

The iStockphoto add-in is a pretty neat addition to PowerPoint as it allows you to see the images right there in PowerPoint. This allows you to get a sense of whether or not the image will work with your style, your other images and fit into your presentation. It also appears that the default search is for images that have the aspect ratio that would fit slides. There is however an advanced search you can use if you want more options and be more specific in your search, just like on the iStockphoto.com website.

Advanced Search Dialog

So go on over to iStockphoto.com and download the add-in.

Before-After: Rule of Thirds

Power Points - Rule of ThirdsThe rule of thirds is composing your photos based on a simple grid of thirds. This is a trick used by movie producers, graphic designers and professional photographers. When used with slides it means to dived the slide into thirds both horizontally and vertically as can be seen on the image to the right. The points created at the intersections of the vertical and horizontal lines are actually called power points. The primary element is then positioned on one of these power points.

Using the rule of thirds leads to aesthetically pleasing and professional looking imagery. It helps to create a composition that is balanced, possesses energy , and creates more interest than simply centering the featured element.

When the primary element is so strong as to imbalance the composition, consider centering the element rather than using the rule of thirds, especially when the strength of the primary element is reinforced by the surrounding elements or space. If the surrounding elements of space do not reinforce the primary element, use the rule of thirds and add a secondary element to the opposing intersection of the primary element to bring the composition to balance.

Below is a Before and After showing the difference the rule of thirds can have when used on slides.


Before - no rule of thirds


After - rule of thirds

Image Credit: harper07

Sources: Universal Principles of Design, Slideology,