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Chapter 4. Microsoft Office Annoyances > POWERPOINT ANNOYANCES

POWERPOINT ANNOYANCES

LOOKING GOOD IN BLACK AND WHITE

The Annoyance:

My color PowerPoint presentations look smashing on-screen. But when I print them out on my trusty monochrome laser printer, they're downright atrocious. My vibrant colors get turned into icky grays I can barely tell apart.

The Fix:

Ask your boss to buy a color laser printer. And after the old tightwad's done laughing in your face, try a cheaper solution: PowerPoint's extensive features for making grayscale printouts look good. They work well; they're just tucked away where you might not stumble across them.

If you're using PowerPoint 2002, you'll find these features by selecting View → Color/Grayscale → Grayscale. You'll get a little floating window with no fewer than nine different grayscale print options; pick one and you'll see exactly what your printout will look like. For instance, if your problem is due to light text on a dark background, the Inverse Grayscale setting can work wonders. Once the presentation looks more presentable, click the Close Grayscale View button, and it will be restored to vibrant on-screen Technicolor.

Credit where credit is due: PowerPoint often does a perfectly good job of figuring out appropriate grayscale choices by itself, so try its default printout before you futz with the grayscale features.

You'll run into one related annoyance if you do have a color printer but want to print in grayscale (an intelligent move if you plan to distribute black-and-white photocopies of that printout): just because you're in grayscale mode on-screen doesn't mean PowerPoint will print in shades of gray. When you print, make sure Grayscale is selected in the Print dialog's "Color/Grayscale:" section.

WHEN AUTOFORMATTING MUCKS THINGS UP

The Annoyance:

When I paste or insert graphics onto a slide, all the other elements are pushed aside. My carefully organized slide becomes an eyesore, and undoing the damage gets old real fast.

The Fix:

PowerPoint is trying to rearrange elements to accommodate the new object. Turn off this feature--which for some odd reason is in Tools → AutoCorrect Options. Click the "AutoFormat as You Type" tab-even though this annoyance doesn't happen when you type-and uncheck the "Automatic layout for inserted objects" box. Click OK, and your PowerPoint layouts will fall into place.

One other thing: PowerPoint 2002 lets you leave this automatic layout feature on and undo it selectively. After a slide has been rearranged, a little lightning-bolt icon appears below the pasted item; click it, and select Undo Automatic Layout. The slide's elements will return to their original places.

PUT YOUR PRESENTATIONS ON A DIET

The Annoyance:

If your PowerPoint presentations are anything like mine, they have a weight problem. My slide shows are way too fat to stick on a floppy, and emailing them takes eons (if it works at all).

The Fix:

File size will balloon when you add anything other than plain text and simple colors to a presentation-and I'm not talking humongous video clips here. Just a photo or two can really pack on the pounds, and compressing the show into a zip file usually doesn't help much.

The good news is that several tricks can squeeze down those slides. The first one's painless: open your presentation and choose File → Save As. Unless you have a specific reason to save the presentation in a format other than the default, make sure the "Save as type" drop-down menu lists Presentation (*.ppt), rather than a variant such as PowerPoint 95 (* ppt). Then click Save. This should shave at least a few kilobytes off the file. (In certain cases, it's slimmed down my presentations by 90 percent.) Try that, Jenny Craig.

Still too portly? Select any picture in your presentation, then go to Format → Picture and click the Compress button. In the "Apply to" section, choose "All pictures in document"; under "Change resolution", choose Web/Screen (if you don't plan to print the slides) or Print (if you do plan to print them, and image quality is essential). Click OK; if you get a warning message about this reducing the quality of your pictures, click the Apply button. Then save your presentation. Depending on the original resolution of your images, this tip can work wonders. (Strangely, it can increase the size of the slideshow if image resolution was low to begin with, so keep a backup of the original version just in case.)

PAY ATTENTION TO POWERPOINT

The Annoyance:

I have to create a PowerPoint presentation that contains lots of images. I'm not looking forward to it, because PowerPoint makes you insert images one at a time. Is there some way to insert images en masse?

The Fix:

If you're using PowerPoint 2002 or 2003, you can add fistfuls of images at once to a presentation-if you first store them in PowerPoint's Photo Album. First, fire up PowerPoint but don't load any presentations. (You may be forced to load a blank presentation, then press Ctrl-F4 to remove it.) Click Insert → Picture → New Photo Album, choose File/Disk, navigate to a folder, and select all the pictures you want to import. Click Insert and press Ctrl-A to highlight all the photos (see Figure 4-34). In the Photo Album dialog, highlight all the images in the "Pictures in Album" panel and click Create (see Figure 4-35). All your images are now in a brand new PowerPoint album. When you're later building a presentation, you can quickly import multiple images by simply dragging them from the album into your presentation.

Figure 4-34. To pull a lot of images into a presentation, first import them into a PowerPoint photo album.


Figure 4-35. Highlight all the images and click the Create button, and you have a new, easy-to-customize PowerPoint photo album.


FIX POWERPOINT'S OPEN DIALOG BOX

The Annoyance:

When I select File → Open in PowerPoint, I see a panel on the right showing me a PowerPoint sample. Why? I also notice that the directories and files are reverse-sorted. How can I get them to sort from A to Z?

The Fix:

Ah, it's the old PowerPoint "I know what's best for you" problem. By default, PowerPoint 2000 through 2003 opens in Preview mode, displaying folder and file names on the left and a preview on the right (see Figure 4-36).

To banish the preview, click the View icon-it's second from the right in the upper-right portion of the dialog. This changes the (duh) view in the dialog. Choose the one you like the best. (Me, I like Details.)

GETTYSBURG IN POWERPOINT

You're not the only one who has to sit through long-winded and boring (and annoying) PowerPoint presentations. I have proof that it happened as early as 1863. But don't take my word for it; get ready to doze through "The Gettysburg PowerPoint Presentation" at http://snipurl.com/getty.


To change to A to Z sorting (but only in PowerPoint 2002 and 2003), look for the Name field in the dialog above the list of folders and filenames. Click the down arrow to the right of "Name" to change the sort order. This preference should be remembered the next time you select Open.

Figure 4-36. Annoyed by PP's preview mode? You can change it with a click of a button in this dialog box.


VIEW POWERPOINT FILES WITHOUT POWERPOINT

The Annoyance:

I occasionally receive PowerPoint files from coworkers. I don't own Microsoft Office, so I'm the only guy in the crowd unable to view these files. Is there a way to see them without purchasing Office?

NEED A RAISE?

Before you storm into your boss's office, check out the "Automated Salary Review," a PowerPoint presentation. It'll teach you invaluable negotiating skills (http://snipurl.com/salary2).


The Fix:

Sure is. All you need to know is the secret handshake-and the right link. Head for http://snipurl.com/PP_Viewer and download Microsoft's free PowerPoint 2003 viewer. The program will let you view entire presentations created in PowerPoint 97 through 2003. By the way, Microsoft has finally released a utility that lets you view, print, and copy Word documents if you lack a copy of Word. This is the first new Word viewer since the age of Word 97. Get it at http://snipurl.com/word_view.

VIEW AND EDIT IN POWERPOINT

Using PowerPoint's Slide Show feature is a handy way to get a taste of what your audience will suffer through. Editing slides while viewing them isn't so handy. The trick is to use PowerPoint's pseudo picture-in-picture option. Press the Ctrl key while clicking the Slide Show icon in the lower-left corner of PowerPoint (it's the fifth icon from the left and cleverly looks like a screen).

You'll see a miniature slide show in the upper-left corner of your screen while PowerPoint-and its editing features-are in the foreground. A mouse click anywhere in PowerPoint lets you edit the presentation, and a click on the Resume Slide Show button shows you how your edit looks (see the image below).



PRECISE IMAGE MOVEMENTS IN POWERPOINT

The Annoyance:

I'm trying to fine-tune the location of an image in a presentation, but all I get are jerky little movements when I use my mouse. Is it my mouse, PowerPoint, or my not-so-steady hand?

The Fix:

It's not you or your mouse. It's the way PowerPoint-in fact, all Office products-are designed to move images. As you move or resize an image, your mouse travels in small, incremental movements. Hold down the Alt key while moving the mouse and you'll be able to make infinitesimally precise adjustments. Cool, no? In fact, the trick's good on all Office products.

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