8 ways to get ready for PowerPoint 2007

PowerPoint Step by Step book cover

Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2007 Step by Step
By Joyce Cox and Joan Preppernau

Joyce Cox has over 20 years' experience in the development of training materials about technical subjects for non-technical audiences, and is the author of dozens of books about Office and Windows technologies. Joyce is the Vice President of Online Training Solutions, Inc. (OTSI). She was President of and principle author for Online Press, where she developed the Quick Course series of computer training books for beginning and intermediate adult learners. She was also the first managing editor of Microsoft Press, an editor for Sybex, and an editor for the University of California.

Joan Preppernau is the author of over a dozen books about Windows and Office. Having learned about computers literally at her father's knee, Joan's wide-ranging experiences in various facets of the computer industry contribute to her enthusiasm for producing interesting, useful, and understandable training materials. Joan is the President of Online Training Solutions, Inc. (OTSI) and an avid telecommuter. The power of the Internet and an obsession with technology have made it possible for Joan to live and work in New Zealand, Sweden, Denmark, and various locations in the US during the past 15 years.

To learn more about other books on the 2007 Microsoft Office system, visit Microsoft Press.


In this article


To prepare you for working with Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2007, this article introduces eight of the product's new or significantly improved features. If you’re upgrading to PowerPoint 2007 from a previous version, you’re probably most interested in the differences between the old and new versions and how they will affect you, as well as how to find out about them in the quickest possible way. This article introduces you to the features you want to be aware of, depending on the version of PowerPoint from which you are upgrading.

Working in the PowerPoint environment

As with all programs in the 2007 Microsoft Office system, the most common way to start PowerPoint is from the Start menu displayed when you click the Start button at the left end of the Microsoft Windows taskbar. If PowerPoint is the first program in the 2007 Office release that you have used, you are in for a surprise! The look of the program window has changed radically from previous versions.

Starting a new presentation

The goal of the redesigned PowerPoint environment is to make the process of creating a presentation more intuitive. Commands for tasks you perform often are no longer hidden on menus and in dialog boxes, and features you might not have discovered before are now more visible.

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Working with a slide library

If your organization is running Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 and has enabled slide libraries you and your colleagues can store slides or even entire presentations in the library so that they are available for use in any presentation. You can then repurpose the slides instead of having to create them from scratch.

For example, suppose a graphically gifted person has developed a slide with a sophisticated chart showing the percentage of income derived from the sale of different categories of merchandise. He or she can store the slide in a slide library so that other people can use it in their presentations without having to take the time to develop a similar chart. Larger organizations might even have people on staff with responsibility for creating this type of slide, so that they can ensure that all slide shows convey the same information in the same professional way.

 Tip   You can also reuse slides from presentations stored on your own computer. The ed slides take on the design of the presentation in which they are inserted.

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Inserting and formatting a table

When you want to present a lot of data in an organized and easy-to-read format, a table is often your best choice. In PowerPoint 2007, tables are easier to create and easier to format for that professional look. On a slide that includes a content placeholder, you can start the process of creating a table by clicking the placeholder’s Insert Table. You can add a table to any slide by clicking the Table button in the Tables Group on the Insert tab. You then work with the table in much the same way as you work with a table in Microsoft Office Word 2007. You can customize and format the entire table as well as individual cells by using commands on the specialized Table Tools contextual tabs, which appear only when a table is active. For example, you can use commands on the Design contextual tab to apply a table style that instantly formats the text and shades the cells to make key information stand out. But the revolutionary thing about tables (and other elements such as charts, diagrams, and even ordinary text) is that you can point to a formatting button on the Design contextual tab to preview how your table will look if you click that button. No more trial and error formatting!

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Inserting and formatting a chart

For those occasions when you want to display numeric data visually, you can add a chart to a slide to make it easy to see trends that might not be obvious from looking at the numbers themselves. When you create a chart in PowerPoint 2007, you use a linked Excel 2007 worksheet to enter the information you want to plot.

On a slide that includes a content placeholder, you can start the process of creating a chart by clicking the placeholder’s Insert Chart button. You can add a chart to any slide by click the Chart button in the Illustrations Group on the Insert tab. In either case, you then select the type of chart you want.

After you enter the data and close the Excel window, you can modify and format the chart to get the effect you want by using commands on the Chart Tools contextual tabs. If you decide that the type of chart you selected doesn’t adequately depict the most important characteristics of your data, you can change the type at any time. There are 12 chart types, each with two-dimensional and three-dimensional variations, and you can customize each aspect of each variation. If you don’t want to spend a lot of time on a chart, you can apply the predefined combinations of formatting from the Chart Layouts and Chart Styles groups on the Design contextual tab to create sophisticated charts with a minimum of effort.

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Inserting and formatting a diagram

When you want to illustrate a process or the relationship between hierarchical elements, you can create a dynamic, visually appealing diagram by using SmartArt Graphics, a powerful new tool that comes with PowerPoint, Word, and Excel. By using predefined sets of formatting, you can almost effortlessly put together any of the following:

  • Process diagrams. Visually describe the ordered set of steps required to complete a task.
  • Hierarchy diagrams. Illustrate the structure of an organization or entity.
  • Cycle diagrams. Represent a circular sequence of steps, tasks, or events; or the relationship of a set of steps, tasks, or events to a central, core element.
  • Relationship diagrams. Show convergent, divergent, overlapping, merging, or containing elements.

On a slide that includes a content placeholder, you can start the process of creating a diagram by clicking the placeholder’s Insert SmartArt Graphic button. You can add a diagram to any slide by clicking the SmartArt button in the Illustrations Group on the Insert tab. In either case, you then select the type of diagram you want to create and click a specific layout to see an example and description. When you find the diagram that best conveys your information, you click OK to insert the diagram with placeholder text that you can replace in an adjacent text pane. You can customize a diagram at any time by clicking it and then using the commands on the SmartArt Tools contextual tabs.

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Finalizing a presentation

These days, most presentations are delivered electronically, either in person, by e-mail, or from a Web site. As you develop a presentation, PowerPoint 2007 attaches identifying and tracking information to it as properties. If your presentation will never leave your computer, you don’t have to worry that these properties might contain something that you would rather other people did not see. However, if the presentation file is going to be shared with other people, you will want to remove this identifying and tracking information before you distribute the presentation. This is known as “scrubbing” a file. The scrubbing process is carried out by the Document Inspector, a PowerPoint 2007 feature that checks a presentation for various types of behind-the-scenes information, reports what it finds, and removes the types you specify.

 Tip   The properties attached to the file by PowerPoint include the name of the author, the title, when the file was created and updated, and so on. You might want to enter other properties, such as keywords, to help you easily find the presentation or to keep track of its status. You enter properties in the Properties pane.

Another thing you might want to do before distributing a presentation is to mark it as final. This feature (new in PowerPoint 2007) saves the file, deactivates most PowerPoint tools, and displays an icon in the status bar to indicate that no further changes should be made to the presentation. This process does not lock the presentation, however; if you want to make additional changes to the presentation, you can turn off the final status.

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Saving custom templates, colors, and fonts

When you create a presentation, the slides take on the characteristics of the template on which it is based. PowerPoint templates use masters to determine their basic design. On an individual slide, you can make changes to the design elements provided by the master, but you can change the basic design only on the master. With PowerPoint 2007, modifying a presentation's masters is easier than ever before. If you spend a lot of time customizing the masters of a particular presentation, you can save the customized presentation as a design template. You can then use it as the basis for new presentations by selecting it from the My Templates folder that is available in the New Presentation window.

If you want to be able to use a particular set of colors or fonts no matter what template you choose and none of the ready-made color schemes or font sets meets your needs, you can create your own. The simplest way to create a new color scheme or font set is by altering an existing one. You can then save a color/font combination as a new theme that you can apply to any presentation with a few clicks of the mouse.

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Making favorite PowerPoint commands easily accessible

If PowerPoint 2007 is the first version of the program you have ever worked with, you will quickly become accustomed to working with commands represented as buttons on the Ribbon. However, if you have upgraded from an earlier version, you might have identified a few commands that no longer seem to be available.

 Tip   You can find out where a favorite PowerPoint 2003 command is located by clicking the Help button at the right end of the Ribbon, searching on 2003 commands, and then clicking Reference: Locations Of PowerPoint 2003 Commands In PowerPoint 2007. Scroll to the bottom of the topic, and click the Ribbon Mapping Workbook link under New Locations Of Familiar Commands. You can find a list of all the commands that do not appear on the Ribbon but are still available in PowerPoint by displaying the Customize page of the PowerPoint Options window and then clicking Commands Not In The Ribbon in the Choose Commands From list.

For the 2007 Office release, conducted extensive research to find out how people actually use the programs in the Office suite. As a result, a few PowerPoint features that seemed superfluous have been abandoned, and a few others that were used very rarely have been pushed off to one side. If you sorely miss one of these sidetracked features, you can make it a part of your PowerPoint environment by adding it to the Quick Access Toolbar. Simply click the Customize Quick Access Toolbar button at the right end of the Quick Access Toolbar, and then click More Commands to locate and add the one you want.

You might also want to customize the Quick Access Toolbar if you regularly use buttons that are scattered on various tabs of the Ribbon and don’t want to switch between tabs to access the buttons. If you use only a few buttons, you can add each one to the Quick Access Toolbar by right-clicking the button and clicking Add to Quick Access Toolbar. You can then hide the Ribbon by double-clicking the active tab. The tab names and Quick Access Toolbar remain visible. (You can temporarily redisplay the Ribbon by clicking the tab you want to view, or permanently redisplay it by double-clicking any tab.)

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Applies to:
PowerPoint 2007