Effectively using the new features in PowerPoint 2007

PowerPoint 2007 Plain and Simple book cover

Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2007 Plain & Simple
By Nancy C. Muir

Nancy C. Muir is the author of more than 50 technology books, including several bestsellers on Microsoft Office PowerPoint. She has worked as a trainer and university instructor, and she has a certificate in distance learning design.

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


In this article


Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2007 sports a brand new interface that offers a somewhat different way of getting things done. After investing a little time getting used to the new tools and features, you’ll find that this version of PowerPoint is actually easier to use. But if you’ve used PowerPoint or other Office products before, you have a small learning curve to go through. This article will give you a first look at the new and improved features of Office PowerPoint 2007 such as the Microsoft Office Fluent Ribbon and the galleries of design styles.

What’s Where in PowerPoint 2007?

PowerPoint now uses a central Ribbon of tools that you access on various tabs. This central Ribbon is part of the user interface called Microsoft Office Fluent user interface which is available in several programs in the 2007 Microsoft Office system. The Ribbon tabs include tools broken into groups. In addition, a Quick Access toolbar offers you the ability to place your favorite tools in one location and access functions that aren’t offered through the Ribbon. Some tools on the Ribbon offer drop-down galleries of selections. Some tools open dialog boxes for making detailed settings.

PowerPoint Ribbon

You access the File menu by clicking the Office button. Here you can choose several common file commands or click the PowerPoint Options button to see a wealth of setting options that control the way PowerPoint — and you — work.

You can open dialog boxes associated with groups of tools by clicking the Dialog Box Launcher, a small arrow on the bottom right corner of many groups on the Ribbon. This displays additional settings and features related to the Ribbon functions.

Ribbon settings and features

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Using the Ribbon

The Ribbon is your control central in PowerPoint 2007. The default Ribbon consists of seven tabs, although contextual tabs may appear now and then when working with certain types of objects or functions. An eighth tab, Add-Ins, appears if you install third-party programs and features such as Microsoft PowerPoint Presenter Tools.

Some tools, such as Preview as a Web Page, are not on the Ribbon. In that case, you have to add the tools to the Quick Access toolbar to perform the function. Several galleries exist on tabs that don’t appear until you insert certain types of objects, such as pictures or drawings. There is also a Shapes gallery on the Insert tab you can use to draw shapes on your slides.

When you hover your mouse over a button on the Ribbon, keystroke shortcuts for tool button functions are also displayed, when they exist. So, for example, if you hover your mouse over the Paste button, you will see (Ctrl+V) in parentheses after the tool name in the ScreenTip. You can use this keystroke combination to perform a paste rather than clicking the button, if you wish.

Clip Art hover text

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Working with the Mini Toolbar

Anybody who has ever worked on any kind of document, from a word processed letter to a PowerPoint presentation, knows that formatting text is one of the most frequent tasks you perform. That is perhaps why Microsoft added the Mini toolbar in this version of PowerPoint. Now, when you select text, a small floating toolbar appears right next to the text itself. You can easily click on tools such as Bold, Italic, or Font Size without having to move your mouse up to the Ribbon and back to the text again.

The Mini toolbar is somewhat translucent when you first select text; you have to move your mouse over to it to get a solid image of the tool buttons on it. If you move the mouse away from the toolbar, you have to reselect the text to make it appear again.

Mini toolbar

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Customizing the Quick Access Toolbar

The idea behind the new Office Fluent user interface is that the most commonly used tools are present on the Ribbon rather than buried in dialog boxes, and the tools you use less often, though accessible, aren’t part of the main interface by default. Sometimes the only way to access a function you may have used in previous versions of PowerPoint is to place a command on the Quick Access toolbar. By default this toolbar contains only the Save, Undo, and Redo commands, but you can add as many commands as you wish.

Although you can add many tools to the toolbar, don’t overdo it. Only add the tools you use most often, or add a tool to use a particular function, and then delete it to clear clutter off the toolbar.

Quick Access Toolbar

You can change the Quick Access toolbar settings only for a currently opened document, not for all documents. When you are in the Customize window of PowerPoint Options, click the arrow on the Customize Quick Access Toolbar drop-down box and choose the name of the presentation for which you want to save the changes.

 Tip   If you have filled up your Quick Access toolbar and want to put it back the way it was when you first installed PowerPoint, go to the PowerPoint Options, Customize window and click Reset. The default tool settings are restored.

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Working with New Design Elements

Several new features in PowerPoint 2007 relate to how graphics are displayed and created. Galleries of graphic elements help you browse through different styles and preview how each will look in your presentation. Themes and Quick Styles are designed to give your presentation a cohesive and consistent look with predesigned combinations of colors, graphics, and fonts. Finally, SmartArt graphics is a new feature that allows you to easily create various types of diagrams and add text to them.

WordArt Styles

When working with the WordArt Styles gallery, if you move the mouse over various WordArt styles you will see each style previewed on any selected text. Similarly, when you move the mouse down the list of fonts you will see each font previewed on the selected text. You can also preview font sizes on selected text. You can try this by selecting some text and then clicking the arrow on the Font Size field. As you move the mouse down the list of sizes, each is previewed on your text.

WordArt Styles

Modifying Themes

You can modify a theme by selecting a different color, font, or effect set on the Design tab. You will find that even if you experiment with different combinations, by using these preset design elements you can keep consistency in the various design features of your slides. You can accomplish this by clicking the Colors button, move your mouse over the sets of colors to see them previewed on your slides, and then click the theme you want to apply.

Modify themes

 Tip   Themes are new to PowerPoint 2007, and you can expand your Theme horizons by using the More Themes on Microsoft Office Online link at the bottom of the Theme Gallery. Office Online offers additional looks for your presentation that can give it extra visual excitement.

SmartArt graphics

A new feature in PowerPoint 2007 is SmartArt graphics, a souped up diagramming tool that allows you to quickly create all kinds of diagrams and workflow charts. When you select and insert a SmartArt diagram, you can then use a simple outline pane to enter the text that populates the various boxes and shapes of the diagram. You can insert or delete elements easily. SmartArt graphics also interact with the shapes built into PowerPoint 2007, so after you insert a diagram, you can change various elements of it by altering their shapes, adding shapes, modifying their colors, and more.

 Tip   When you look at the preview of SmartArt graphics in the Choose a SmartArt Graphic dialog box, you’ll notice that beneath it is a suggestion of uses for that particular SmartArt element to best communicate your message.

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Applies to:
PowerPoint 2007