Create an animated announcement

In a recent Power Pointers Quarter Hour, we had a lot of fun with transitions. (If you aren’t a part of that program, you’re missing a lot of great training–check it out here.) One that I thought I’d share with you is using the Curtains transition for an animated announcement. This transition was new for PowerPoint 2013.

Here’s what it looks like.

Isn’t that cool? You could use it to announce a new program or event. You won’t believe how easy it is. You’ll need PowerPoint 2013 or later for it, although earlier versions have other transitions that might suffice — they just won’t be as elegant or dramatic.

Here are the steps for this beauty:

  1. On the first slide, right-click and choose Format Background. Set the color to a dark red or whatever color you want the curtains to be.
  2. Insert a text box and type ANNOUNCING! or whatever text you want. Format it to contrast with the curtain color. Add a Wipe animation with the From Left option. Set it to Start With Previous.
  3. Insert a new slide and insert the announcement. In my case, I inserted a screenshot from my website, but you could add text from scratch. The slide background should be white or at least something that contrasts with the curtain color.
  4. With the 2nd slide displayed, click the Transitions tab and choose the Curtains transition. Set the timing to about 5 seconds, or whatever works for you.
  5. Go back to the first slide, go into Slide Show view and test the effect.

Tip: You can export this to video (File, Export, Create a Video). Of course, that’s what I did to create the video above. But you can use it as part of a presentation as well.

Just to remind you, here’s where you can find out more about Power Pointers Quarter Hour.


How could you use this effect? Can you think of other short animations that you could use? Leave a comment and please use the Share buttons below to tell your colleagues.

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Icons are hot now — how to get, make, and use icons

Iconography is hot in design now. Here is an example from one of my websites.


The above icons are colorful and have some depth to them, but you often see icons that are flat and monochrome. Here’s an example from


I often see icons that are all gray.

What is an icon and why are icons so popular?

An icon is a graphic used as a symbol for a concept. The idea is that you look at the image and immediately know what it means. In practice, that doesn’t always happen and so the best use of icons is with companion text.

Because our brains remember images better than text, your audience will be more likely to remember the concepts you want to convey with an accompanying image. When you want to convey several ideas or help people remember the structure of your content, icons can help. They are always simple, which can give them an advantage over a photograph which might contain extraneous content. (That explains why you should crop photographs and remove their background when possible.)

Icons are also popular for other reasons:

  • They can be universal, understood by people speaking different languages
  • They can be small, which means they work on screens of all sizes
  • They are small files because they’re simple, which is valuable on smaller devices with little storage

An icon can be any file type, but if you can find a vector format, you’ll be able to import it into PowerPoint and edit it to your heart’s content. If you can find an EMF or WMF file, you can import it directly. However, these days, you’re more likely to find the icon in SVG format, which PowerPoint doesn’t support. If that’s what you have, you can use a workaround that I’ll explain below.

Where can you find icons?

One of the best sources I’ve found for icons is Iconfinder. As with images, you need to watch out for the license. While it sometimes works to provide attribution for a free image, it rarely works for an icon — the attribution would take up more space than the icon itself and be too distracting. Iconfinder is the only icon-specific site I know of that lets you both filter for license type and download a vector format for free.

If you want to buy a set of icons, you can go almost anywhere.

powerpoint-tips-icons-iconography-why-how-3In Iconfinder, here are the steps to use:

  1. Use the Filter menu on the left side of the Iconfinder web page to specify Vector, Free (or not, if you have a budget), and No Link Back, as you see here.
  2. Use the Search box at the top to find the icon you want.
  3. When you see the results, click the Information icon at the lower-left to see the license and other information about the icon.
  4. Click the icon you want.
  5. Choose the file type you want. AI (Adobe Illustrator) files are only available with Iconfinder Pro, which starts at $9/month, but you can get PNG (a raster, bitmap format) and SVG for free if the icon is free.

That said, another great resource is Pixabay. Most people use Pixabay for photographs, but the site also offers vector graphics. Here are the steps:

  1. Start by logging in (or creating a free account.)
  2. Type the keyword you want and from the down arrow at the end, choose Vector Graphics.
  3. Click the icon you want and check out its license. Almost everything is in the Public Domain (CC0 in Creative Commons terminology) so you don’t have to give attribution.
  4. Choose SVG and click the Free Download button.

Create your own icons in PowerPoint

PowerPoint has excellent graphic tools for creating your own icons. I love to create people icons in PowerPoint. Here’s an example.


I have a blog post on creating people icons here. Nowadays, I would probably make them flatter (without the gradient).

powerpoint-tips-icons-iconography-why-how-6Of course, you can create almost any type of icon, not just people. Here’s an icon of a tablet that I created with just 3 rounded rectangles. This is very easy to create. I used a light gray color that seems to be very popular now.

How to get SVG files into PowerPoint

Until PowerPoint supports SVG files, you’ll need a workaround and the best one I know of is to use Inkscape, a free vector drawing tool (somewhat like Adobe Illustrator). Choose the icon (yes, they use icons) for your operating system and then download and install it. Another option I’ve read about (but not tried recently) is to use’s Draw program. In both cases, you open the SVG and then export it (or save it) as WMF or EMF. If you want, you can play around with the tools in Inkscape; for example, you can change the color of the icon, but you can just leave it as is and do your editing in PowerPoint.

I have an earlier post, “Create your own graphics and icons for PowerPoint: Part II–Creating line art from scratch” that describes this process, including how to import the WMF (or EMF) into PowerPoint and convert it to PowerPoint objects that you can edit.

Use your icons anywhere!

Once you create your icons, you can save them as bitmap images by selecting them, right-clicking, and choosing Save as Picture. Then you can use them in reports, web pages, social media posts, etc.


So what are you waiting for?

powerpoint-tips-icons-iconography-why-how-7Share how you use icons on your slides — or how you would like to. Where do you find icons or do you create your own? Leave a comment! And please share this knowledge using the Share icons below so others you know can benefit as well. (That Share icon you see on the left is easy to create in PowerPoint!)

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Using a window instead of full screen for Slide Show view

powerpiont-tips-use-window-1Do you sometimes need to access other applications while you’re presenting? Here are some scenarios:

  • You’re doing a webinar and need to access the webinar interface
  • You want to show a web page or application at some point in your presentation
  • In response to an unexpected question, you want to show another presentation, spreadsheet or document

One thing I’ve done for a while is to display the presentation in a window. Here’s what I did (until I discovered an easier way):

  1. Click the Slide Show tab.
  2. Click the Set Up Slide Show button.
  3. In the Set Up Show dialog box, choose Browsed by an Individual (Window)powerpoint-tips-reading-view-1
  4. Click OK.

Now, when you go into Slide Show view, PowerPoint opens in a window instead of full-screen. You can maximize the window but you’ll still have access to your taskbar, so it will be easy to get to other programs, including your browser. Ideally, you should be able to configure the taskbar so that it doesn’t appear unless you move your cursor down at the bottom of the screen (which is where the taskbar usually is).

In fact, you can resize the PowerPoint window to any size you want. The window is excellent for comparing animation in 2 presentations, for example, because you can place 2 windows side-by-side.

Reading view is another way to get there

One of the problems with this setting is that it’s easy to forget and if you want to switch from a window to full-screen, you have to go back into the dialog box, which is a few clicks.

powerpoint-tips-reading-view-2If you have PowerPoint 2010 or later, you can get the same result using Reading view. You might not have noticed it — I didn’t until recently. The Reading View icon is just to the left of the Slide Show View icon at the lower-right corner of the screen and it looks like an open book.

Just click it to open your presentation in a window.

The next time you need access to multiple applications, try Reading View!

Can you think of situations where this would be helpful to you? Leave a comment! And if you think others you know might find this post useful, please use the Share buttons below.


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Create a screenshot and screen recording in PowerPoint

If you create training presentations, especially technical ones, you often need to include screenshots (static images of the screen) and screen recordings (videos showing activity on the screen). In PowerPoint 2010 and later, you can take screenshots from within PowerPoint.

PowerPoint 2016 introduced the ability to take screen recordings and that feature has been added to PowerPoint 2013 as well. If you have all of your updates, you should see it.


The process is a little clunky, so I’ll describe how you can create a screenshot and screen recording in PowerPoint.

Take a screenshot

  1. Insert, Screenshot. A menu drops down showing the available windows. What you need to know is that they include all of your open windows except your current presentation. The clunky part is that if you want to take a screenshot of your current presentation, you have to create a new presentation and do the screenshot from there.
  2. If you want to capture the entire window, just click the window you want.
  3. If you want to select a portion of the window, choose Screen Clipping from the bottom of the window. You can then drag across a portion of an open window. The clunky part here is that the window needs to be visible. You don’t always get a chance to choose a hidden window as you do when you capture an entire window. That’s because you can capture only windows that have not been minimized to the taskbar. However, you can display the window you want before you choose Insert, Screen Clipping, Screen Clipping, and PowerPoint will hide itself and display that window — the window behind it is available for clipping.

The screenshot immediately appears on your current slide.

Of course, you can crop your screenshot. You can also add arrows and text boxes and any other formatting you want.

Take a screen recording

As I mentioned at the beginning, screen recordings are newer. You can find this feature in PowerPoint 2013 if it’s fully updated and in PowerPoint 2016.

  1. As for screen capture. you should display the window you want to record just before you start.
  2. powerpiont-tips-insert-screenshot-screen-recording-3Choose Insert, Screen Recording from the Media group. You’ll see this small toolbar. It’s common to include the mouse pointer, so that your audience can see more clearly what you’re clicking. You can also turn audio on or off.
  3. To record part of the screen, click the Select Area button and drag across the area you want to record.
  4. Click Record. You’ll see a message telling you to press Windows button + Shift + Q to stop recording. Write that down! You’ll also see a countdown. When the countdown ends, start the process you want to show.
  5. Press Windows button + Shift + Q and the video appears on your current slide.

Remember that you can add arrows and text boxes and other formatting to your videos, too.

Export your media!

I’m sure you know that you can right-click and choose a screen capture– or any image, then choose Save as Picture to export it as a separate file. But you can do the same with your screen recording! You might want to edit it in another program — although you can clip it and do a fade in/out in PowerPoint.

Just right-click your screen recording and choose Save Media As. Give it a name and location and click Save. Here’s a short video that I created using PowerPoint’s screen recording feature on how to move large amounts of text around using Word’s Outline view.



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What about PowerPoint 2016 (Windows)?

It’s time for me to talk about PowerPoint 2016, since it’s been out for a few weeks now. Here’s a screenshot of it.


So, what’s new?

Actually, nothing major, in my opinion. but here’s a rundown. You might find something that’s just what you need.

It looks a little different

With each release, the look is a little different. The tab titles are no longer all upper case and have returned to the 2010 (and previous) initial caps. Upper case letters are considered a little harder to read — keep that in mind when creating slide titles.

You have a choice of 3 color variations. The one you see above is called Colorful. To change the “Office Theme” — called that just to confuse you and make it sound like the type of Office theme that lets you create backgrounds, theme colors, and font sets — choose File, Options. In the General category, choose one of the Office Theme options. Here you see the others: Dark Gray and White (which looks like PowerPoint 2013). Read more! →

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I’m redesigning! What does rebranding mean for my presentation design?

powerpoint-tips-rebranding-1Yay! I just hired a great website designer and I’m already excited. We’ve almost settled on 4 colors plus tints (we’re still discussing the dark blue shade) and we’ve chosen a WordPress theme. There will also be a new header. While this blog has been done in WordPress for years, the home page and a number of other important pages are written in HTML, which makes them harder for me to manage. It’s a big project and I’m only doing the HTML portion now, so it will take some time for this blog to look the same.

Do you like the colors?

While I don’t get a lot of mobile traffic on this website (less than 10% including tablets), it will be good to have these HTML pages finally responsive to the size of your screen.

Look for the new website in 3-4 weeks!

What does rebranding mean for my presentations?


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Create a lightbox or mask effect in PowerPoint to focus attention

A lightbox is an effect often used on websites. You click something and you see a window, but everything around the window is faded as if it’s covered with a semi-transparent overlay. This effect focuses your attention on the window.

A mask is slightly different and you sometimes see it in video. Everything is completely covered except for one area. You can see whatever is behind that area. Essentially, that area or shape is a hole in an opaque shape. Again, this focuses your attention on what’s behind the hole — since you can’t see anything else.

So both of these techniques help focus attention on part of a screen. In PowerPoint, you can use these techniques to focus attention on part of a slide.

There are other techniques that you can use. For example, look at this blog post, “Circle an object,” which explains how to focus attention by circling an object.

This video shows both techniques, one after the other.

Example 1: Lightbox effect (everything else is semi-transparent)


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Corporate training-The never-ending course

powerpoint-tips-training-never-ending-course-1What do you think is the biggest problem in corporate training?

Of course, there’s no one answer and the biggest problem in one organization might not be a problem in another.

Here’s my answer

But overall, I think that given a commitment to training and competent people in the Training Department, the biggest problem is implementation. In other words, trainees don’t implement the training they’ve received.

What do I mean by that?

“The American Society for Training and Development says that by the time you go back to your job, you’ve lost 90% of what you’ve learned in training.” I found this in a Wall Street Journal article, “So Much Training, So Little to Show for It.”

But it’s more than just forgetting. People have trouble changing old habits so it’s hard for them to implement the new training, even if they do remember the points.

The job of the Training Department is to effect change in the trainees and this doesn’t happen nearly often enough. When trainees don’t implement the training the desired ROI isn’t achieved.

Do you agree?

What if the course never ended?


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Single-source publishing with PowerPoint–use PowerPoint for all versions of your training!

powerpoint-tips-single-source-publishing-with-powerpoint-7This is a guest blog post by Dimitri Roman. Dimitri is a Learning Architect at a leading supplier of strong authentication, He has been creating learning solutions with the use of PowerPoint for the last 15 years.

In the fast paced economy of today, the development and maintenance of learning solutions needs to be optimized without any loss in quality. This invokes the need to create a Single Source Learning Solution that reaches multiple generations. A Single Source Learning that can be built with PowerPoint.

Creating multiple implementations

In most cases a learning solution consists of a presentation and an accompanying handout. Today we tend to extend the implementation with the creation of an eLearning and a sharable video so the learning solution can reach different generations with their inherent learning styles. Creating all these different implementations can be a time consuming endeavour, not to mention the nightmare of keeping all these implementations up to date and consistent.

That is why it is important to contain your learning solutions source into one single document that can generate all the requested implementations. As your primary single source, a presentation is the most obvious choice.

Crafting this single source PowerPoint file requires some planning in advance. Depending on the desired implementations you must consider:

1. As an Online Synchronous Presentation: Segment with custom slide shows

The learning needs to be kept digestible, with Single Concept Learning, using micro-lessons. Custom shows can be applied, to segment a Single Source Learning Solution in small learning nuggets. Create your custom show, by selecting the needed slides out of your complete deck. Hidden slides can also be selected and will be shown in the custom show. Different shows can share slides, so you can maintain the learning as a Single PowerPoint Source. 

 2. As a Classroom Presentation: Maintain a logical flow 

Slide Sections help you in organizing your slide deck. Use the View tab to select Slide Sorter view. Right click in the slide sorter to manage your sections using the context menu.  

3. As an Online Asynchronous Presentation: Add Actions and Triggers

Actions in PowerPoint allow users to navigate freely between content and custom slide shows, within the Learning Solution. If you want to return to the master slide show, after viewing a custom slide show, then you need to enable “Show and return” when linking to custom shows.

 Triggers and animations can engage online students even more. You can reveal items when a student clicks on an object.

4. As a Handout: Enhance the Notes Pages

You can store much more content on the Notes Page by reorganizing your Slides and Notes. Your Notes Page is a perfect place to host a well-crafted handout, using the exact same tools as you would, when creating slides. Reducing the size of the Notes Text Box, creates more space for inserting additional content using the Insert tab.

5. As a Video: Add sound and Narration

Your video will need the proper voice support and timings. The best and most flexible way to provide your voicing is by using narration.

 When presenting your PowerPoint you want this without the embedded Narration and Timings. To do this, you need to turn them off in the Slide Show tab. The Timings and Narration will not be removed from your PowerPoint, they are just not used during your presentation.

With careful planning all these considerations can be achieved in PowerPoint, allowing you to create a learning solution in a single file, avoiding the risk of any inconsistencies.

The 5 considerations seem to be a hard bargain but when taking a look at Ellen’s website you will find a wealth of information that help you to achieve this goal.

Looking at an example

As an example and more in depth guideline you can take a look at the  files below:

·       The Presentation:

·       The Handout:

·       The eLearning:

·       The Video: (here you’ll see a list of several examples; one is embedded below)



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Design an e-book or report cover in PowerPoint

powerpoint-tips-turn-presentation-into-report-ebook-2Last week, I talked about how to convert a presentation to a report or e-book. This week, I want to show you how to design a cover for that report or e-book in PowerPoint. If you aren’t a designer and yet want to design an e-book or report cover in PowerPoint, you’ll find it a simple way to go. You already know the program, so there isn’t a learning curve like there would be for Photoshop or another high-end program. At the end of this post, I’ll suggest some other programs you can use instead.

I’ll also explain how easy it is to create the 3D image of the cover you see here.

What size will it be?

A report will almost always be 8-1/2 x 11 (or A4). But an e-book (I’m not talking about a Kindle book) can be any size. I prefer 6×9 because:

  • Many paperbacks are that size or a similar size
  • It gives the book more pages

Whatever size you choose, set your slide size to that. To set the slide size, click the Design tab, then Slide Size or Page Setup. Choose Custom Slide Size to set the size you want. Set the Orientation to Portrait.

Keep it simpleAdd video front cover

Since (I’m assuming) you aren’t a designer, you want to keep it simple. The basic concepts are:

  • Use a white background
  • A border is optional
  • Use a band of bright color  — or even two
  • Use white text on the band
  • Find an big, bold image or make a collage, like the one I created for the middle of the cover
  • Put your name and credentials at the bottom
  • A subtitle can help entice people to buy because it explains the value of the book

Sketch out your cover on a piece of paper. That’s right, paper. Then simply add shapes (rectangles), text boxes, and images. Move everything around until it looks good.

Export the slide as an image either by selecting everything, right-clicking and choosing Save as Picture, or by choosing File, Save As and choosing on of the image options from the Save as Type drop-down list. Ask a few friends for feedback.

Insert the cover into your report or e-book

Then insert the image into the beginning of your Word document. For image wrapping, choose square or tight to get the most flexibility to place and size the image the way you want it.

Make it 3D

The purpose for a 3D cover is just to present it as a product on a sales page. Here are the steps:

  1. Insert the image of the cover
  2. Right-click and choose Format Picture.
  3. In the 3-D Rotation section, click the Presets arrow and choose one of the options. I often use “Off Axis 2 Left” in the Parallel section.
  4. In the 3-D Format section, in the Depth area, increase the size until the book looks big enough. (Don’t exaggerate!)
  5. In the Lighting area, increase the Angle setting until the side of the book (the depth) doesn’t look so black; 70 degrees usually works for me.
  6. In the Shadow section, click the Presets arrow and choose one of the options. I usually choose “Perspective Diagonal Upper Right” in the Perspective area.
  7. Right-click and choose Save as Picture.

That should take you under a minute and it’s a great look for a sales page.

Other design options

For non-designers, there are a number of online graphic design websites.  All let you combine images and text. Here are a few that I know of:


Have you designed an e-book or report cover in PowerPoint? What tips can you share? Leave a comment! And share this post with others because they might find it useful — just use the Share buttons below.

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