How to use the great new design 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


The ability to add elements to your slides allows you to add visual pizzazz to your presentation that helps keep viewers entertained and interested. In a multimedia-savvy world, people expect more than black bullet points and a white background. This article explores four of the new design features in Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2007 that will help you meet those expectations.

Working with SmartArt Graphics

A new feature in Office PowerPoint 2007 is SmartArt graphics, which is 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 works like the shapes built into PowerPoint, so after you insert a diagram, you can change various elements of it by altering their shapes, adding shapes, modifying their colors, and more.

SmartArt graphics can be inserted into a content placeholder by clicking the SmartArt graphics icon in the placeholder. When the Choose a SmartArt Graphic dialog box appears, click on a category on the left, and then click on a style in the list to insert the SmartArt graphic and click OK. It’s as simple as that.

Working with SmartArt graphics

 Tip   Some styles of SmartArt graphics include picture icons. Click on these to display the Insert Picture dialog box. Locate a picture file you want to use and click Insert. This is useful for diagrams such as organizational charts where you can insert photos of individuals in the organization.

It is equally simple to add text to SmartArt graphics. When you click on the SmartArt graphics placeholder, it opens for editing, ready for you to enter text into the text box.

When headings appear in the SmartArt graphic, you can press the up or down arrows on your keyboard to move between headings, and continue to fill in the headings. If you want to add an additional heading, press Enter after typing a heading and a new one will be created.

More working with SmartArt graphics

 Tip   You don’t have to use a content placeholder to insert SmartArt graphics. Just click the Insert tab and click the SmartArt button to insert SmartArt graphics on any slide.

TAB works a little differently in SmartArt graphics. If you press TAB after clicking on a heading placeholder, your cursor does not move to the next heading as it does in some forms and programs. If you click on a heading placeholder and press Tab, it will indent one level. If you click on a heading and press SHIFT+TAB, it will move up one level in the outline.

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Creating a Photo Album

If you want to create a slide show or a portion of a show that consists of a series of photos, you can use a new feature called Photo Album. A photo album is essentially a tool you use to set up a series of photos and text boxes, one each per slide in sequence. You can include captions for the photos if you wish, and you can also make use of some photo editing tools included in the Photo Album feature. These tools allow you to rotate the photos or change the brightness or contrast.

Insert a New Photo Album

To create a photo album in PowerPoint 2007, begin by selecting the Photo Album button on the Insert tab. Next, click the File/Disk button, locate a picture to insert, and then click the Insert button. Repeat this for as many photos as you wish to include in the album. If you want to include a text slide in the photo album, click the New Text Box button. Use any of the tools to modify your photo album.

Insert a new photo album

When you save the photo album, a new presentation is created. You can save the photo album as a standalone presentation or insert it into a larger PowerPoint 2007 presentation if you wish.

You can edit a photo album once you’ve created it. Click the arrow on the Photo Album button and chooseEdit Photo Album on the Insert tab. In the Edit Photo Album dialog box, you can use the tools to remove photos, add photos, rearrange photos, or change any of the picture or layout options.

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Manipulating Placeholders

With the exception of text boxes, placeholders are where you create the elements of your presentation. They contain text, drawings, pictures, charts, and more. Placeholders provide an easy way to arrange the components of each slide, and because they come with certain predesigned formatting, they make adding everything from a bulleted list to a chart easy. By selecting a placeholder, you can align the contents of placeholders and format their backgrounds and borders.

Selection and Visibility Pane

One other feature that is new to PowerPoint 2007 is the Selection and Visibility pane, which makes it easier to select and manipulate placeholders on slides. You can use the Selection and Visibility task pane to do any of the following:

  • Click on an item in the list of Shapes On This Slide to select the object.
  • Click the Visibility button to hide any item.
  • Click the Visibility button again to display the item.

Selection and visibility pane

 Tip   If you click on an object, the Format tab appears on the ribbon. This tab also contains the Arrange group of tools, including the Selection Pane, Bring to Front, and Send to Back buttons.

In addition to the Selection and Visibility task pane to help you select objects, you can click the Arrange button on the Home tab and use the Bring to Front and Send to Back buttons to push a selected item in a stack of items to be in front of or in back of others.

Aligning and Formatting Placeholder Contents

You can align text in placeholders by clicking alignment buttons on the Home tab. If you only want to align one line out of several, select the text you want to align. When you click any of the alignment buttons, the text shifts accordingly. When aligning text placeholders, keep in mind that the themes applied to your slides provide a certain design balance to elements on the page. Therefore, be sure that if you shift the alignment of text in placeholders that the text is balanced on the slide against any graphics or master elements such as footers.

Aligning and formatting placeholder contents

 Tip   Use centered text for emphasis for a single line of text. If working with bulleted lists, typically you should use left or justified alignment so each bulleted item begins at the same place, making the list easier to follow.

With PowerPoint 2007, you can easily format placeholders. Simply right-click the placeholder, and then choose Format Shape from the shortcut menu. Click a category on the left, and then choose the desired settings to add fill color, add and adjust a border line, or add a shadow or 3-D effect. Notice that the settings you select are previewed on the placeholder.

Format shape

Be careful not to go overboard adding effects to placeholders, especially if your slide contains a lot of graphics and text. Let the text be the important element on any slide to help get your message across.

 Tip   After you have applied a fill color to a placeholder, a quick way to change the fill color is to click the Colors button on the Design tab and choose a new color scheme for the presentation.

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Working with Themes

Microsoft has built in several design aspects for your presentations in PowerPoint 2007. These design elements, including themes, color schemes, and slide layouts, offer a built-in consistency through a common look and feel. This design consistency means that you don’t have to be a graphic designer to design an attractive presentation.

Themes in PowerPoint provide a suite of design settings that give your slides a consistent look and feel. You can apply a theme with a single action, putting in place background graphics and colors, font and font size settings, and a layout. The gallery of themes located on the Design tab helps you preview and choose the best look for your presentation easily.

By default, the blank Office theme is applied to new presentations. You can set a different theme as the default theme to be applied to every new presentation. To do this, first locate the theme you want to use as a default in the Themes gallery, right-click the theme, and then select Set As Default Theme.

Apply a Slide Theme

You can apply a theme to PowerPoint 2007 slides by clicking the More arrow on the Themes gallery that is located on the Design tab. As you move the mouse cursor over the themes, you will be able to preview them on your slides. When you find a theme you want to use, right-click the theme, and then choose one of two options:

  • Choose Apply To All Slides to apply the theme to every slide in your presentation.
  • Choose Apply To Selected Slides to apply the theme only to the currently selected slide or slides.

Apply a slide theme

If you want to apply a theme to several slides, it’s easiest to display the Slide Sorter view, click the first slide you want to apply the theme to, and then hold down the CTRL key and click other slides. Then follow the preceding steps to apply the theme to multiple selected slides.

Find Slide Themes Online

You can find additional slide themes online. Because nearly everybody who creates PowerPoint 2007 presentations picks from the same set of built-in themes, at some point you may want to show folks something entirely new. Finding updated themes becomes a way to differentiate your presentation.

To find a theme online, make sure your computer is logged onto the Internet, and then click the Design tab. Next, click the More arrow on the Themes gallery, and then choose More Themes On Microsoft Office Online. When you’re connected to the Office Online Web site, you can enter a search term to search for a template. The results of your search will be displayed in a thumbnail format.

Find slide themes online

To download a template, click the Download Now button. PowerPoint 2007 automatically opens a new presentation with your new template applied.

If you can’t find a theme you thought you had downloaded, try choosing the Browse For Themes command at the bottom of the Themes gallery. In the Choose Theme or Themed Document dialog box that opens, enter the name of the theme (the Office Themes and Themed Document format is specified by default) or use tools to browse for the theme in the various folders on your computer.

Changing Theme Colors and Fonts

Themes include settings for colors and fonts. A theme’s color scheme affects most elements on your slide, including background, text, and graphics. Themes provide sets of colors that work well together so your slides should maintain an attractive and cohesive look no matter which one you apply. Font schemes include settings for heading and body fonts.

When you apply a theme, it contains a preset color scheme and fonts, but you can change these to give your slides a new look. If you decide to change the color scheme, be sure to use color combinations that work well in the space where you will give your presentation. Most color combinations PowerPoint 2007 offers should help to keep your text readable, but if you change the color of an individual element, remember that dark text colors are hard to read in a lighter space.

You can use the Colors button in the Themes group that is located on the Design tab to select a different color scheme for a theme. Right-click on the color scheme you want to use, and choose either Apply To All Slides or Apply To Selected Slides. The new colors are applied.

Changing color themes and fonts

The fonts used in a theme can also be changed by using the Fonts button that is located in the Themes group on the Design tab. You can preview the fonts on your slide by moving the mouse over the fonts. When you find a font style you want to use, simply click the font to apply it to all slides.

Changing theme colors and fonts

In addition, you can create your own font theme by choosing Create New Theme Fonts from the Fonts gallery. Select a heading font and body font, give the font theme a name, and click Save. The theme is now available in the Fonts gallery.

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Applies to:
PowerPoint 2007