PPT tips for working ‘squint-free’

Working in PowerPoint can be a frustrating exercise in squinting, nudging and reformatting. It doesn’t have to be if you know a few tricks.

Type in Outline view

PowerPoint might very well be the worst word processing application in the world—possibly because it was never intended to be one! In versions 2010 and earlier, you will notice an outline tab above your slide thumbnails in the navigation pane. Click that.

Outline view

In later versions you’ll need to click on the View tab and select Outline View from the ribbon. Type the slide topics, bullet points and, if you’re using SmartArt diagrams, shape labels as bullet points. Just start typing.

The first item will be next to a slide image and will become the slide topic. Press Enter, followed by the Tab key to enter the subtitle or bullet point. Continuing to press Enter will get you a text item at the same level. So if you typed Agenda, then Enter and Tab, you will be at the place to type your first agenda item as a bullet. Just press Enter again to get another agenda item bullet.

Then when you’re ready for your next slide, press Shift+Tab. Your cursor will move to the left and another slide will begin. Finish your content here, then work on the design elements. Make any changes to the appearance of slide titles or logos in the Slide Master to avoid having to make it on every slide.

Set up a Design Theme from your company template

Many of you have to work with a company or organizational PowerPoint template for your presentations. To apply the design, look and feel, layouts and other unique elements, click the Design tab, then the More button on the Gallery. From this dropdown menu at the bottom choose Save Current Theme. You’ll now notice a button under the Custom section in the gallery.

Save current theme

After you get your content in there from the Outline view, as long as you haven’t made any formatting or layout modifications to the slides themselves, the presentation theme will completely adopt the design theme. If, on the other hand, you have brought in an existing presentation or have made changes to the slides, select all slides from the Navigation pane (try Ctrl+A). Then, right-click and choose Reset Slide from the menu. Click on View, Slide Master to see all the layouts you can choose from for your presentation.

Align and size without nudging

It’s easier to use the Format tools contextual tab height and width fields, as well as the align left, right, top bottom, middle and center buttons, to straighten out objects. For example, if you had drawn four rectangles independently, but needed them aligned in quadrants and exactly the same size, you would follow these steps:

  • Determine the size of the one rectangle you like best. On the Format tab on the far right, note the height and width, Now select all of them and enter those dimensions in the boxes.


  • Click the top two shapes, select the Align button and choose Align Top. Move the bottom left one to the desired distance from the top one. Now, select the top and bottom left ones and choose Align left. Choose the bottom left and right ones and choose Align bottom, then the top right and bottom right, and choose Align right. Done! No nudging.