Category Archives: Tutorials

Make Sound Start Automatically In PowerPoint

Often you’ll want to make a sound file play automatically when a slide is displayed. The alternative is to have to wait for the slide to appear and then trigger the sound with a click of your mouse. In many cases, this is too unwieldy a process. How do we make sound start automatically when the slide appears?

Let’s demonstrate with a simple example.

How To Make Sound Play Automatically

The first step is to insert your sound file onto a slide, and to do that go to the Insert tab and click the Audio button on the far right.

Audio Button In PowerPoint

When the Insert Audio window opens, navigate to where your sound file is, select it and click Insert. When your sound file is on the slide, you’ll see an icon that looks like this:

Sound File On A Slide

While the sound file is selected, you’ll see the Audio Tools tab in the ribbon. Go to the Playback tab within that.

Audio Tools Tab

In the Audio Options group you should see the Start selector, and it will display “On Click” by default. Change that to “Automatically”. Now as soon as that slide appears, the sound file will start.

The only problem now is the unsightly image of the sound file and its playback controls on the slide. Not everybody is happy about it being on show like that. There is an easy solution: just drag it off the visible area of the slide. You can still see it in the workspace, and you can still work with it, but when you run your presentation, it will be hidden.

Drag The Sound File Off The Slide

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PowerPoint Artistic Effects

PowerPoint 2010 has a whole host of special “Artistic Effects” that it can apply to the images you insert onto your slides. These images can be photos that you’ve taken yourself, or artwork you’ve obtained from other sources. As long as the image is in a popular format like .gif, .jpg or .png (or other formats) you can insert it into your presentation. It’s dead easy to apply an artistic effect – but you must have your image selected first (remind yourself of how to insert images in PowerPoint). You do need to have the image selected, because only then will the Picture Tools – Format tab be displayed in the Ribbon. And we need this tab.

Picture Tools Tab

With the image selected, and in the Format tab, you should see the Artistic Effects command in the Adjust group. Here it is:

Artistic Effects In PowerPoint

When you click on this magical button, a whole world of possibilities opens up before you. Check out this gallery of artistic effects, using the image we have selected (in this case a cute koala bear. Awwww).

Artistic Effects On A Bear

The live preview that PowerPoint offers is invaluable in situations such as this one: you want to preview what one particular setting will look like before moving quickly on to the next setting. You can do this here by simply hovering over the gallery image of the effect you want to preview. The effect is temporarily applied to the image, and is removed when you move the mouse away. And artistic effects are so easy to apply that you can create stunning graphics in a matter of seconds. All you have to do is click on the effect that you like.

Here are some of the more popular Artistic Effects:

  • Pencil Grayscale – this effect makes the picture look like it was sketched by the artist with some pencils.
  • Paint Brush – a watercolour painting, if ever I saw one!
  • Blur – a peculiar one. It just makes the picture look out of focus. Handy if you want to bring attention to the text on your slides.
  • Light Screen – this effect reminds me a little of embroidery and/or pictures made with mosaics.
  • Glass – a really “wet” look. As though you’re looking through a window that’s being rained on.

Those are my favourite PowerPoint Artistic Effects, anyway. They’re so easy to apply/preview, though, you may as well insert your own images and preview the whole gamut of effects yourself.

Interesting Notes On Artistic Effects

  1. You can’t apply Artistic Effects cumulatively (e.g. plastic wrap on top of watercolour sponge on top of chalk sketch). Only one effect can be applied to an image at any one time. So choose wisely!
  2. After you’ve applied your artistic effect, you can save the image from your presentation to your hard drive. This means that you can do fancy schmancy image editing without Photoshop! To save your image (post Artistic Effect), right click on it and select Save as Picture. Find a location on your computer for it and click Save. The image saved includes those fancy effects – yay!
  3. Clever people will realise that point 2 above contradicts point 1. You can apply an Artistic Effect to your image, save it to your computer, insert it onto a new slide and then apply another Artistic Effect. Yay for thinking outside the box!
  4. A quick way to remove all effects you’ve applied to an image since you inserted it is to click the Reset Picture command (in the Adjust group, in the Picture Tools tab).

Remove The Background From An Image In PowerPoint

There may be times when you have two or more overlapping images in your PowerPoint presentation and you want to make the background of one image transparent, so that you can see the other image(s) behind it. For this kind of situation, PowerPoint’s background removal tool is an excellent choice. Solid areas of colour are easier for PowerPoint to cope with, but the background removal tool is surprisingly versatile. Let’s see what we can do with an example.

Suppose you have two separate images; one of a sunset and one of a chimney. The chimney image is in the foreground and has some unwanted background that obscures the photograph of a sunset behind it. We want to remove the chimney’s background so that we can see the sunset behind it. You might start off with something like this:

Remove Background In PowerPoint Start

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There are two things we need to sort out:

  1. the chimney is too big
  2. the background in the photo of the chimney is blocking our view of the beautiful sunset

We can easily resize the chimney by clicking and dragging on the corner handles of the chimney image. It’s usually better (not always) to resize by dragging on the corner handles as that will maintain the proportions of the chimney. If you drag the other handles you will end up with a chimney that is too squat or too thin. Resizing the chimney gives us this:

Resized Chimney

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Now we need to remove the chimney’s background so that we can see the sunset behind it. The chimney image should still be selected, so click on the Format tab that appears in the ribbon under Picture Tools tab.

Picture Tools Tab - Format

Click on the Remove Background command over on the left. PowerPoint will highlight in purple the area that will be removed, but you will usually have to change this area by dragging on its resize handles.

Resize Backgrund Area

You should arrive at something like this:

Chimney Background

Now the bounding box includes the chimney in its entirety. In the ribbon, you should see a command called Keep Changes – click that.

Background Removal - Keep Changes

This will remove the chimney’s background, highlighted in purple. You should now have an image of a chimney with the sunset image showing through in the background – just what we want.

Background Removed - By PowerPoint

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This is only an demonstration of how to remove the background from an image. You might have other images this could work on, like a group of business people/classroom, a bird/sky, a computer/office; there are many situations where the easy removal of backgrounds from images are required.

Now you know how to do it!

Creating Shapes In PowerPoint

In the past, shape manipulation has had to be performed in graphics packages like Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop or Fireworks. You would create an image and then insert it into your PowerPoint presentation. However, PowerPoint 2010 introduces some useful shape manipulation tools that allow us to perform tasks that designers should find familiar, such as:

  • union
  • intersect
  • combine
  • subtract

These PowerPoint shape commands are not shown by default on the ribbon. We’ll have to first customise the ribbon to take advantage of them. Click the File tab, and then click Options > Customise Ribbon. Let’s create a brand new tab in which to put the shape commands. Typically, we’ll want to insert a shape first and then manipulate it, so we’ll put the new shape manipulation tab after the Insert tab. Click the Insert tab to select it in the list on the right.

Select The Insert Tab

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Now, click New Tab at the bottom. Use the Rename button at the bottom to rename it to something like Shape Commands. We’re going to add commands that aren’t already present in the ribbon to the new Shape Commands tab, so change the Choose commands from selector above the list on the left to be Commands not in the Ribbon. Select any item in the list and press “s” on the keyboard to position the list closer to the shape commands. You should see:

  • Shape Combine
  • Shape Intersect
  • Shape Subtract
  • Shape Union

These are precisely the commands we need. Make sure that New Group (Custom) is selected on the right before selecting a command on the left and adding it.

Add Shape Commands To The Ribbon

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Click OK and you should see the new Shape Commands tab appear after the Insert tab in the ribbon. We’re now ready to create some funky shapes!

Shape Manipulation In PowerPoint

Let’s get familiar with these shape tools by following a simple example: creating a crescent shape. This is a silly example as there is already a crescent shape available in PowerPoint (Insert > Shapes > Moon), but it will serve to illustrate how the shape commands work. Draw out two circles by selecting the Oval tool (Insert > Shapes > Oval), and dragging on a slide whilst holding down the Shift key (this constrains proportions). Copy and paste the first circle (Ctrl-c, Ctrl-v), select both and you should end up with something like this:
Two Circles

With both circles selected, go to the new Shape Command tab and click Shape Subtract.
Shape Subtract

One shape cuts away its outline out from the other, leaving something like this:

Make A Crescent In PowerPoint

The order that the shapes appear on the slide determines which one does the cutting. You can change the order by selecting one of the shapes and then by clicking either Bring Forward or Send Backward (on the Format tab that appears when a shape is selected).

It’s worth experimenting with the different shape commands in PowerPoint to discover what kind of crazy shapes you can create!

Here’s a key that took, literally, five minutes to cook up:

keyJust kidding. That’s a photo of a key. Here’s the more humble PowerPoint version:

Key Drawn In PowerPoint


To make this key we drew a few rectangles and combined them, and then drew a circle and subtracted it. Then we applied a Shape Style to give the key its 3D appearance. Fairly easy stuff to do now in PowerPoint 2010, and it beats shelling out hundreds of $’s to buy Fireworks/Photoshop/Illustrator to achieve a similar effect.

Venn Diagram Template

Download the Venn diagram template.

Venn diagrams are a great tool to represent information visually – especially data about overlapping groups. For example, you might have a group of 100 people, 80 of which own a car, 55 of which own a bicycle, and 40 of which own both. A Venn diagram is an excellent aid to help us determine how many people either owned a car or owned a bicycle, or how many people owned neither.

To create a Venn diagram in PowerPoint, all we need to do is add some SmartArt. Go to the Insert tab and click the SmartArt command (in the Illustrations group). The SmartArt window opens with a large selection to choose from. Venn diagrams (and there are four types) are actually in the Relationship category, near the bottom.


Venn Diagram In PowerPoint

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The following types of Venn are available:

  1. Basic Venn
  2. Linear Venn
  3. Stacked Venn
  4. Radial Venn


We’re going to use a basic Venn diagram for this task, so double click on the image of the Basic Venn. There are three circles, but we only need two, so click on the bounding border of one circle and press the delete key.

You are now left with two circles, one for car owners and one for bicycle owners. The area where the two circles overlap represents those people who own both a car and a bicycle. Let’s add some numbers. Each circle has a placeholder text box that we can start typing into.

Venn Diagram With Numbers

The numbers within the circles were easy to add because we just overtyped the placeholders. For the area where the circles overlap, we’ll need to insert a text box: on the Insert tab, click on Text Box (in the Text group) and click once within the overlapping area. Then type out your number, like this:

Venn Diagram Overlap

You’ll probably need to increase the font size of this new text to make it similar to the existing numbers.

Back to our question: we can see that the number of people who owned either a car or a bicycle is 40 + 40 + 15 = 95, and the number of people who owned neither is 100 – 95 = 5.

Here is the Venn diagram template. We’ve taken the liberty of sprucing it up, so it now has a bounding box and each circle has an informative label. It looks like this:

Venn Diagram Template


Curved Text In PowerPoint

By default, when you type out text in a text box, it displays horizontally. But sometimes, for that extra pizazz, you might like your text to be curved, and maybe even follow the contours of a curved line.

You can easily create curved text In PowerPoint 2010, by creating an oval shape and typing your text inside it.

Creating Your Curved Text

Activate the oval tool by going to the Insert tab and finding it in Shapes (in the Illustrations group).

Oval Tool

Draw a circle by clicking and dragging on the slide and hold down shift to constrain its proportions. When you start typing some text with the circle selected, the text will appear inside the circle. So type out your text! While the circle is selected, the Drawing Tools and Format tabs appear in the ribbon. We need the Text Effects command.

Text Effects

Select Transform, and then choose any of the Follow Path options. For this example, we chose the first one on the left (Arch Up). The text should now follow the curve of your circle.


Curved Text In PowerPoint

The only problem is, the text is white and we can see the circle. We want black text, and we don’t want to see the circle. Let’s change the text colour to black first, so that we don’t lose our white text when the background becomes white. With either the circle or the text itself selected, go to the Home tab, and in the Font group, change the Font Colour to be black.

Black Font Colour

To make the circle invisible, you’ll need to have it selected. We’re going to remove the outline and fill: with the circle selected, go to the Format tab and click on Shape Fill. Select No Fill. Now click on Shape Outline and select No Outline.

Invisible Circle

Now all we can see is the curved text. At this point you can make the curve of your text shallower or steeper by dragging on the shape’s resize handles.

Unfortunately, if you need your text to follow more complex curves, PowerPoint isn’t (yet) up to the job. You may have to create an image of your text in a graphics editor like Adobe Fireworks, Illustrator or Photoshop, and then insert the image into your presentation’s slide. Of course, if you do this, the text won’t be editable within PowerPoint. If you needed to change the text, you’d need to amend it in the graphics editor and re-insert it into PowerPoint.

Using Professional PowerPoint Templates

Using PowerPoint templates can speed up how long it takes to create a presentation. Using a professionally designed PowerPoint template has the same advantage – but you get a template that is stunningly attractive to boot.

Many people use the free templates that come with PowerPoint, not realising just how inexpensive – and how much better – pro templates are. This tutorial will show you how to use the templates that PresenterMedia provide, and will hopefully get you thinking that it needn’t cost the earth to create a stunning PowerPoint presentation.

Organising The PowerPoint Templates

Many template vendors offer a subscription that allows you to download an unlimited number of templates for a fixed price, and this is true of PresenterMedia. When you have downloaded a certain number of templates, an organisational structure becomes necessary. One way of working is to create a new folder structure like this:


Save Template Location

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You would then download all templates into that folder. Whenever you need to create a new presentation, you would open one of the templates in that folder, save it to a different location on your computer, rename it to the presentation you’re going to deliver, and then start work on it.

Modifying The Template

Open the template in PowerPoint and you may see the following Protected View alert.

Protected View Alert

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Because you downloaded the template from the internet, PowerPoint is checking that you can trust the source. You can trust where the template came from, so click Enable Editing.

Before you start working on your new presentation, the first thing you should do is save it to a different location and rename it. Here, we’ve created a new folder called “live”, and we’re going to rename our presentation and save it there:

Rename Presentation

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If you look down the list of slides on the left hand side of the workspace, you can get a feel for the variety of slide layouts that have been designed for us. To modify a slide, click its image on the left to select it and then make your changes.

The template that we are using in our example is the Business March template, and this one uses animation. The animation is good, but depending on the content of your presentation, and your audience, you might decide that you want to deliver a static presentation with no animation. The animated templates come with static versions of each slide, so you can easily toggle between animated and static. Right click on the slide and then select Layout. The following gallery of layouts will be displayed:

Switch To Static Theme

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The static layouts are displayed at the bottom of the gallery; find the static version of the layout you want and click on it to select it. At any time, you can preview your changes by pressing Shift-F5 to preview from the current slide, or F5 from the beginning of the presentation.

Don’t think you need to use all the slides that are in the template! You can easily delete the ones you don’t need by selecting them in the slide panel and then press the delete key. You can make multiple selections by holding down Ctrl as you click additional slides. Of course, these slides are deleted from the current presentation and not the template itself.

Using Clip Art In Powerpoint

Microsoft Clip Art encompasses the illustrations, photos, and images provided with each Office program. You can use Clip Art in your PowerPoint presentations to illustrate your slides and make more of an impact on your audience. There is a wide variety of different Clip Art images you can use, in a variety of categories.

Let’s pretend we need a simple illustration of a cabbage for one of our slides. Open up the Clip Art window by going to the Insert tab and clicking Clip Art (in the Images group). In the search for box, type the word “cabbage” and then select what file types you’re interested in.

Clip Art In PowerPoint

You can choose from illustration, photos, videos and audio. To get the biggest selection of media you could potentially use, make sure that All media types is selected. I would also check the Include content box, to give you the largest possible selection.

Click Go, and wait for PowerPoint to find images that match your selection. When you find one you like, make sure that the correct slide is selected and then click on the image. It will get inserted on your chosen slide. Because the image remains selected, the Picture Tools tab opens up:

Picture Tools Tab

Using the Picture Tools tab, you can manipulate your image and do such things as perform corrections on it, adjust its colour, compress it (to get file sizes down), and also add effects like snazzy borders, shadows and reflections.

Resizing Clip Art

As you can see in the screenshot above, various handles appear around the Clip Art image when it is selected. Dragging on the handles at the corners and along the sides will resize the image, but you can also rotate it by clicking on the top handle and then dragging left or right.

Now that you have your Clip Art inserted, it behaves like any other image you’d insert into PowerPoint (read how to insert images in PowerPoint).

The beauty of Clip Art is that it provides a huge library of images that are free to use, right at your fingertips.

Embed PowerPoint On Your Website

Embedding a PowerPoint presentation on your website or blog is a great way to allow people to see the presentation without having to download it and then open it in PowerPoint. In the past we’ve had to upload presentations to the internet and link to them, but visitors want to see the presentation there and then, not download them and then open them.

Fortunately, there is a way for us to embed our presentations on our websites, detailed as follows.

We investigated two ways to accomplish this, one using Office Web Apps on Windows SkyDrive, and the other using Google Docs.

Using Office Web Apps To Display PowerPoint On Your Website

You will need a Windows Live account to upload your PowerPoint presentation to a public folder in Windows Skydrive. Once logged in, navigate to the folder where you want to upload the presentation and click Add files.

Add Files To Windows SkyDrive

When the File Upload window opens, navigate to where your presentation is on your computer and double click on it. A progress will appear in the bottom left of the screen.

Presentation Upload To Windows SkyDrive

Once the upload is complete, select the presentation by checking the box next to it and then click on Embed over on the right.

Click Embed

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Place the cursor in the Copy the HTML code to embed this file box to select the code, copy it and paste it into the HTML code of your web page. You can progress through the slides presented on the page by using the forward and back buttons at the bottom of the presentation, as in the example below.

Here is a PowerPoint presentation embedded via Office Web Apps:

Using Google Docs To Display PowerPoint On Your Website

To use Google Docs to embed a PowerPoint presentation on your web page, you’ll need a Google Account. From the Google Docs main page, click on the Upload button and select Files.

Upload To Google Docs

Find your presentation and double click it. Click Start Upload in the Upload Settings window and the Google Docs upload progress window will tell you when the upload is complete.

Google Docs Upload Progress

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When the presentation has been uploaded, click on it to open it. In the top right hand corner you should see a Share button: click on the down arrow to its right and select Publish/embed.

Publish/Embed PowerPoint


On the Publish this presentation page, click Publish document. On the next screen, you should see the embed code that you need to copy and paste into the HTML of your web page.

Google Docs Embed Code

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As with the Office Web Apps version of the published PowerPoint presentation, this one has next slide/previous slide buttons at the bottom.

Here is an example of the above presentation embedded via Google Docs:

Speech Bubbles For PowerPoint

Speech bubbles (or speech balloons), most commonly seen in comic books, are reusable graphical aids that allow words, ideas and concepts to be represented in an easy to understand way. Usually, there is some way to indicate that a speech bubble contains thoughts (the bubble looks like a cloud) or words spoken aloud (the bubble looks like an oval or is rectangular).

Here are 3 basic speech bubbles that you’ve probably already seen on your travels:

Common Speech Balloons

PowerPoint 2010 comes with some similarly basic built-in speech bubbles, but you can very easily spice up your presentations with more snazzy and eye catching bubbles by using the images you can download below. All you have to do is download them to your computer and then insert them as images. You can then add a text box to overlay the speech bubble and start writing in it.

Of course, because the bubble is an image, you get all the resizing options that images get when it is selected. You can also change its orientation by clicking and dragging left or right on the rotate button at the top.

Free To Download Speech Bubbles For PowerPoint

Here is a snapshot of what the speech bubbles look like:

Thought Bubble 1

Thought Bubble 2

Though Bubble 3

Thought Bubble 4

Star Bubble 1

Star Bubble 2

Star Bubble 3

Star Bubble 4

Speech Bubble 1

Speech Bubble 2

Speech Bubble 3

Speech Bubble 4

Rounded Bubble 1

Rounded Bubble 2

Rounded Bubble 3

Rounded Bubble 4

Organic Bubble 1

Organic Bubble 2

Organic Bubble 3

Organic Bubble 4

Funky Bubble 1

Funky Bubble 2

Funky Bubble 3

Funky Bubble 4

What you need to do is right click on the speech bubble you want to download, and select Save Picture as. Remember where you save it, because you’ll need to locate it when you insert it into your PowerPoint presentation.

This post displays a gallery of speech bubbles. Stay tuned for the next post which will be a tutorial on how to use them in your own presentations.