Import text from Word or Notepad

I recommend writing what you will say in Word first, because it’s easier to focus on your message. In another post, “Organize content with an outline,” I provide some more details.

Importing an outline

powerpoint-tips-import-outline-1You can import then text from Word or even Notepad (or any text editor) to create a new presentation. This is called importing an outline. Follow these steps to create the outline:

  1. Open a Word or Notepad document.
  2. Type the content if you haven’t already done so, following the guildines below.
  3. Make sure each line, whether for a slide title or bulleted text, is on its own line. There should be no blank lines, because these come in as blank slides!
  4. For each slide title, format the line as Heading 1 in Word or just type in Notepad.
  5. For each line of bulleted text, format the text as Heading 2 in Word or insert a tab in Notepad
  6. For each line of indented bulleted text, format the text as Heading 3 in Word or insert 2 tabs in Notepad
  7. Save the file as a .docx or .txt file.

Here’s an example done in Notepad:

Word or Notepad document

To use the outline, follow these steps:

Start a new presentation.

  1. Choose File > Open.
  2. From the Files of Type drop-down list, choose All Outlines.
  3. Find your file, select it, and click Open.

That’s it! Your presentation is created! Here’s an example. The only change I made was to use the Title Slide layout for the first slide, but you may have to reset the slide layouts. Just select all of the slides in the left-hand pane, the right-click and choose Reset Slide.

presentation slides created

As you can see, the text comes in the appropriate size, according to the slide master. Of course, the next step is to add images, split up some of the slides, edit out some text, etc.

Copying and pasting smaller amounts of text

powerpoint-tips-text-from-word-1Actually, if you just want to copy and paste a small amount of text onto a slide, by default, by default, PowerPoint will convert the formatting to match your presentation’s theme. I recommend pasting into a text placeholder. If you paste into a text box, the text will default to 18 points.

You have some control over how your text looks when you paste from another location, using the Paste Options icon, shown here. This icon appears when you paste text, but collapsed. Click the down arrow to see these options.

Insert an outline into an existing presentation

You can also insert an outline into an existing presentation. Perhaps you have some content that you want to use for just a couple of slides. Follow these steps:

  1. In the left-hand pane, click the slide you want the outline content to appear after.
  2. Click the down arrow next to the New Slide button on either the Insert or Home tab and choose Slides from Outline.
  3. Select your outline file and click Insert.


Do you start your presentation with an outline? How do you get the text into PowerPoint? Leave a comment and please use the Share buttons below to share this information with your friends and colleagues so they can benefit, too.

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Getting the line spacing just right

I did a makeover of a slide that included a quotation from the man who discovered the circulatory system. I was SO pleased to get a public domain image of a portrait of him — considering the quote was from 1628!

But when I wrote his name and other information below the portrait, the line spacing was all wrong.


There was too much space between the lines. This is common when you copy and paste text from another source.

It’s common to need to made slight adjustments in line spacing and you can fix this in a couple of ways.

Use Shift + Enter

You need to be a nerd to know about this one. Shift+Enter is different from Enter when you’re creating a new line. Enter creates a new paragraph but Shift+Enter creates a new line without a new paragraph. If there are settings that automatically add spacing between paragraphs, this can help.

powerpoint-tips-line-spacing-2You can put your cursor before the 2nd line and press Backspace to remove the Enter character. Then press and hold Shift while you press Enter. Here’s the result, which is much better.

Change the line spacing

Another option is to set the line spacing to something that isn’t an integer, like .9 or .8. Follow these steps:

  1. Select all of the lines of text that you want to adjust in the text box or shape.
  2. On the Home tab, in the Paragraph group. click Line Spacing, then Line Spacing Options to open the dialog box you see here.
  3. In the Line Spacing drop-down, choose Multiple.
  4. Set to a number like 0.6 or 0.8 to move the lines slightly closer together.
  5. Click OK.powerpoint-tips-line-spacing-3

Set the exact line spacing

The final option is to start out as in the previous list of steps but for Step 3, choose Exactly. Then specify a number in points. Unfortunately, PowerPoint doesn’t preview the results, so you’ll have to try a number and click OK to see what works.

Here’s the result. Better, right?



What do you do when you have too much (or too little space) between lines? Leave a comment and please share this post with others using the Share buttons below!

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Comparing webinar services-Google Hangouts on Air, GoToWebinar, and Zoom-and why I chose Zoom

online-business-zoom-google-hoa-gotowebinar-1More and more, presenters are presenting online, using webinar services. So I thought I’d share my experience and maybe comparing webinar services will help you make a choice.

I’ve switched to Zoom! I’ve used GoToWebinar for many years but a friend (thanks, Sheila Finkelstein!) introduced me to Zoom. I tested it for several months and a few months ago I took the plunge — I cancelled my GoToWebinar/Meeting account.


  • I was looking for ways to engage more with my audience. That meant more webcam/video
  • I wanted to reduce my cost (I was paying $99/month for GoToWebinar)
  • I wanted to be able to record the webcam portion of a webinar (GoToWebinar doesn’t)

I also considered Google+ Hangouts on Air along with Webinarjam, which is software that enhances Hangouts on Air to broadcasts give them more webinar-like features. Here’s my story of my experience with comparing webinar services–Google+ Hangouts on Air, GoToWebinar (including GoToMeeting), and Zoom. Read more! →

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Format quotations to get attention

I see a lot of presentations with quotations on them and they’re almost always boring. Presenters use a blank layout, insert a text box, and type or paste the quote from some document.

Quotes are an interesting feature in a presentation, so make them interesting!

Here’s a slide that a client gave me.


It isn’t terrible, but not very engaging either. I wasn’t sure what to do with it at first but I decided to look up William Harvey. Remember, this is the year 1628!

Add a photo

Go ahead and look him up on Wikipedia. Lo and behold, there’s a portrait of him. Click it and you’ll see that it’s in the public domain. I hit the jackpot!

The ideal way to format a quotation is with an image of the person who said it. If it’s someone at your company, ask if you can take a photo.

PowerPoint has a whole Callouts section in the Shapes gallery and several of them are suitable for quotes. However, the callouts are sometimes frustrating to format. The secret is to:

  1. Insert the callout.
  2. Add the text.
  3. Resize the callout to fit the text.
  4. Drag the point toward the photo of the person.

powerpoint-tips-format-quotations-3Format the quotation marks

A nice touch is to “outdent” the first quotation mark. This makes the actual text of the quote look a little neater. You do this on the ruler. You just drag the lower triangle (not the lower square) slightly to the right. You can see this setting on the right.

Other formatting options

I made the border thicker, by choosing Format tab, Shape Outline, Weight. I also added a shadow to match the shadow on the painting image.

Here’s the final result.


Nicer, right? The photo attracts the attention of your audience and makes the quotation interesting, rather than boring.


How do you like to format quotations? Leave your suggestions or questions in the comments. And share with others using the Share buttons below.

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Happy New Year for 2016!

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Create an interactive menu in PowerPoint Office Mix

heather-ackmannThis post is by Heather Ackmann. She is a new/old PowerPoint MVP. Old, because she’s been an MVP in Microsoft Office for years. New, because Microsoft got rid of Office MVPs, so she’s come over to the light side and is now a PowerPoint MVP. And she’s an MCT (Microsoft Certified Trainer). Heather  is also full-time author for Pluralsight, creating computer training videos full-time on PowerPoint, Excel, Word, and other topics. 

On the job, she is passionate about three things: her audio equipment, her training courses, and her PowerPoint slides. Her desk is never clean, but her courses are meticulously structured. At work and at home she pushes the limits of what her Microsoft Office applications can do and often asks them to do things they weren’t designed to do. When she discovers something new and interesting that Office can do, she loves sharing that information with the world via Twitter, her website, or in one of her many Pluralsight courses. In her spare time, she crochets many hats and scarves for her kids who refuse to wear them outdoors.

* * * * *

If you have not yet had a chance to play with Office Mix, the latest add-in for PowerPoint that allows you to create an interactive online multimedia presentation sharable and viewable on any device, you need to read Ellen’s Introduction to the add-in here.

But if you are already somewhat familiar with Office Mix, maybe have even created one or two Mix presentations yourself, I am going to explain how to take Mix Interactivity to the next level by designing and creating your own custom interactive menu into your Office Mix presentation.

Towards the end of this blog, you’ll find a presentation containing the step-by-step instructions, but here are a few things to consider beforehand.

Why Design a Custom Interactive Menu for Mix?

Below is a mix presentation I recently created and shared to Twitter. The presentation is less of “presentation” in the traditional sense and more of a curation of some of my favorite web resources that I used to teach myself how to crochet.

Due to the nature of the content and the medium through which I was sharing the presentation, I wanted viewers to be able to skip through the sections at their leisure much like a website or catalog, but I found the native navigation features of the Mix player somewhat limited. The answer? Design my own menu using simple features already available in PowerPoint.

How to Design an Interactive Menu in PowerPoint

The basic look and design of the above menu is created entirely with PowerPoint shapes, lines, and text boxes, with one exception: the home icon. The home icon I downloaded from Shutterstock as an Illustrator vector file and then converted to a PowerPoint shape (click here for instructions on how to convert vector graphics to PowerPoint shapes).

There are a couple of places in PowerPoint to build your menu. The choice is up to you. You can either build shapes on the slide master layouts, or on individual slides. It really depends on how complicated your presentation ends up being and what you find more convenient in the end. Hyperlinks will work from both the slide masters and the individual slides.

Before sharing your presentation, there are a few things you should consider:

  • Mobile Devices: If you choose to enable playback on mobile devices, Office Mix will render your mix as a video. That means that ALL your actions and hyperlinks, any quizzes, and apps, etc. will NOT work on these devices.
  • Player Navigation Buttons: There is one pop-up navigation button that appears on occasion over the slides whenever the slides stop “playing” automatically after audio or a video file has ended. The button will appear towards the bottom center of the player. Ordinarily, this doesn’t cause a problem; however, if you’ve placed the menu at the bottom of the slide like I’ve done in this example, this pop-up button has the potential to block your navigational menu. This isn’t as big of a problem as it could be though; the button does disappear automatically after a few seconds. It’s just a bit cumbersome to navigate around sometimes. As such, designing your slides with the menu placed at the top of the slides might be a better option.

How to Create Clickable Buttons

And now for what you are really wanting to know—how to make those buttons work in Office Mix! To demonstrate how to create buttons for Office Mix, I created directions in Office Mix. See the embedded Office Mix presentation below. Enjoy!

What do you think? It’s really simple, right? Leave a comment and share with your colleagues!

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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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