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Unless you’ve led a cloistered life over the past few years, chances are good that you’ve seen a PowerPoint slide show. From the corporate boardroom to the university classroom, or even at your neighborhood church, PowerPoint is being used to visually communicate to audiences everywhere.

Used properly, PowerPoint can be a great tool to help you communicate, persuade, inspire, motivate, convince, and educate. And that’s what this book is all about—helping you use PowerPoint as a tool in support of what you do. Let’s get started.

Who This Book Is For

This book is for you if you’re new to PowerPoint or if you’ve already dabbled with it and want to know a bit about what you’re doing. I assume that you have absolutely no prior knowledge of PowerPoint, although I’m quite sure you’re pretty smart about a lot of other things. In this book I try to match PowerPoint smarts with your smarts to come up with a winning combination.

However, this book doesn’t dwell only on the basics. In these pages you’ll find dozens of practical suggestions, tips, and even cautions that are useful for both new and experienced PowerPoint users.

This book is targeted to those using PowerPoint 2003 in Microsoft Office 2003. However, if you’re still using PowerPoint 2002 in Office XP, you’ll find that nearly everything included here still applies.

The PowerPoint Program

If you have the Microsoft Office suite installed on your computer, you might have used Word or Excel, but you might not have realized that you probably also have PowerPoint. If you look for the program and don’t find it, you might need to install it, or you might have the Small Business Edition of Office, which unfortunately doesn’t include PowerPoint. In this case, you need to upgrade your version of Office or purchase PowerPoint separately.

Some Key Terms

To use PowerPoint effectively, you need to know the basic terminology used for common mouse actions:

  • Point— Move the mouse to move the onscreen pointer. The mouse pointer changes shape, depending on where it’s pointing.

  • Hover— Move the mouse to a location and wait a second before you do anything else. When you hover, often a short description of that location, menu, or button appears to let you know what happens if you click there.

  • Click— Press and release the mouse button once. You use a single click to select menu items, to activate toolbar buttons, to select onscreen objects, and to perform other tasks.

  • Double-click— Press and release the mouse button twice, quickly, and without otherwise moving the mouse. This often has the effect of selecting and also executing, for example, selecting and opening a file.

  • Right-click— Press and release the right mouse button. You most often rightclick to get a context menu of choices that apply to whatever you’re pointing at. If you’re left-handed and you’ve changed your primary mouse button to the right side, you have to mentally translate to the left side when we tell you to right-click.

  • Drag and drop— Point at an object, hold down the mouse button, drag the pointer across the screen, and release the mouse button. Dragging is most often used to move objects from one part of the screen to another.

  • Object— Things such as text objects (boxes that contain text), graphic objects (clip art, drawings, or photos), and multimedia objects (audio or video clips) that you can use in a slide show. Unlike a word processing program that deals with sequential text, PowerPoint helps you create and rearrange objects spatially onscreen.

Things to Keep in Mind

One of the great things about using PowerPoint is that you can customize many of its features to work the way you want to work. That can also mean, however, that your program and screen might not look exactly the same as the way it looked when you first installed it. Nevertheless, this book has to make certain assumptions about the way PowerPoint looks, which you should keep in mind as you view figures and work through steps described in this book:

  • Typically, you can access PowerPoint features in more than one way. For example, you can select a feature from a menu, from a toolbar button, from a context menu, or by using a keystroke. I try to mention the most common approaches and to vary the approaches I describe to get you used to various options. I cannot cover every method every time, so you should experiment a bit if you think there might be an easier or quicker way to do something.

  • Your PowerPoint screen very likely will look different from those shown in the figures in this book. I have tried to crop out those parts of the screen that are irrelevant, but if you see something that seems out of place, don’t let that distract you. Look for what’s being described.

  • Although I try to use fonts, clip art, designs, and other elements that you’re likely to find with your version of PowerPoint, don’t worry too much about replicating exactly what you see. If you have a favorite picture, use that instead of what is shown in an illustration. If you like a different font, use it.

How to Use This Book

This book is divided into six parts, each of which deals with a different theme. Although the first part is fundamental to your learning to use PowerPoint, all the others can be used as needed. If something comes up that is covered in another chapter, earlier or later in the book, I try to provide a cross-reference to make it easier for you to find information you might have skipped over.

Part I, “Getting Started with PowerPoint,” is a basic introduction to PowerPoint and a how-to for everything required to create a basic slide show. This part takes a somewhat unusual approach in that it has you create a basic slide show first, in Chapter 2, “PowerPoint Quickstart,” and then Chapter 3, “PowerPoint Basics,” takes you on a tour of PowerPoint. If you’re brand new to PowerPoint, you should consider going in sequence through the chapters in Part I. Even if you know something about PowerPoint, you might want to read Chapter 1, “What’s the Point?” which talks about why, or why not, to use PowerPoint.

Part II, “Creating Slide Show Content,” isn’t necessarily sequential, but it does include most of the essential tasks you’re likely to need. Chapter 4, “Organizing a Presentation,” helps you understand why and how to organize a PowerPoint presentation, including the use of PowerPoint’s outline feature. Chapter 5, “Working with Text Objects,” focuses on text objects. Chapters 6, “Working with Graphic Objects,” and 7, “Creating Drawing Objects,” deal with graphic images and drawing objects. Chapter 8, “Organizing Information by Using Tables,” shows you how to use tables, and Chapters 9, “Presenting Numbers by Using Data Charts,” and 10, “Using Diagrams and Organization Charts,” talk about data charts, diagrams, and organization charts.

Part III, “Making the Slide Show Active and Interactive,” shows you how to make a slide show more than a series of still images. In Chapter 11, “Animating Slide Show Objects,” you learn to make things move on slides. Chapter 12, “Letting Action Settings Work for You,” describes how you can get PowerPoint to link to other slides or to actions you specify, and how you can make a slide show an interactive, nonlinear presentation.

Part IV, “Preparing and Presenting the Slide Show” helps you get a show ready for presentation to an audience. Chapter 13, “Preparing a Slide Show for Presentation,” describes ways to polish up your slides, and Chapters 14, “Preparing to Make a Presentation,” and 15, “Making a Presentation,” show you how to set up a slide show and prepare both yourself and the room for the actual presentation. Chapter 16, “Learning the Elements of Effective Presentations,” summarizes in one place many of the elements of effective presentations that are scattered throughout the book.

Part V, “Making the Slide Show Available in Print and on the Web,” describes various ways of getting a slide show in a format that the audience members can take with them. Besides the typical printing options described in Chapter 17, “Printing a Presentation,” Chapter 18, “Publishing to the Web,” explores how to quickly and easily turn a slide show into a Web page.

Part VI, “Beyond the Basics,” helps you learn some useful, but perhaps not immediately needed, skills. Chapter 19, “Adding Multimedia Elements,” explores adding audio and video objects to a slide show. Chapter 20, “Customizing PowerPoint,” shows how to customize PowerPoint menus and toolbars and how to create custom design templates. Chapter 21, “Looking Beyond the Basics,” gives you a nudge toward using additional features that are truly beyond the scope of a basic book, including network-based slide presentations and using macros or other programmed add-ins. This chapter also lists several places you can go for additional help.

I love watching a good PowerPoint presentation. I groan when I have to sit through a bad one. I hope what I’ve presented here will help you to become the kind of presenter that I and others will love to listen to.

Conventions Used in This Book

This book explains the essential concepts and tasks in an easily digestible format. At the beginning of each chapter is a bulleted list of In This Chapter highlights that provides you with a framework for what you are about to learn. At the end of each chapter, under the heading The Absolute Minimum, you can review the main points covered in the chapter.

In addition, several icons appear throughout the book to direct your attention to a note that provides more detailed information, a tip that can help you perform a step more efficiently, or a caution to help you steer clear of a potential problem. Following is a brief description of each icon:


Notes provide additional information about the subject matter covered in a particular section. You can safely skip these notes and still learn the basics.


Tips provide an insider’s guide to a particular concept or task. Look for the tip icon to learn useful shortcuts that show you how to perform a task more efficiently.


Cautions point out common user errors and problem areas to help you avoid the mistakes that hundreds of other users have already made. To avoid trouble and stay on the right track, read the cautions.

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