PowerPoint Tips and Tricks

These tips work in PowerPoint 97. 

The Best PowerPoint Shortcuts
PowerPoint has a lot of keyboard shortcuts you can use to save time. No one except those who memorize stuff just for giggles could learn them all. So here’s a list of the most useful ones.

  • Ctrl+X, Ctrl+C, Ctrl+V = Cut, Copy and Paste the selected object (respectively). Once you learn them, you’ll find you never go to the Edit menu anymore.
  • Ctrl+Z = Undo. Everyone’s favorite "oops" command.
  • Ctrl+B = Apply Bold. Select text then type Ctrl+B and magically your text is bold.
  • Ctrl+I = Apply Italic. Same idea as adding bold, except it adds italic instead.
  • Shft+F3 = Toggles case. You do NOT want all uppercase text in almost any presentation, so switch it to something else. You use Shift+F3 to switch case from UPPER, lower, and Initial Caps.
  • Ctrl+Home, Ctrl+End = In Outline view, move to the top and bottom of the presentation, respectively. Within a slide, move to the top or bottom of the placeholder text.
  • Ctrl+S = Save a presentation. Do this before the power failure.
  • Ctrl+M = Insert a new slide. Okay, it’s not very mnemonic, but it’s easier then the menu.
  • Ctrl+D = Make a duplicate of the selected slide (or selected object). This command is much faster than a copy and paste.
  • F7 = Check spelling. Prevent embarrassment — learn to love the F7 key.
  • Esc = Select an object (not the contents). Sometimes clicking an object to select it without highlighting the contents is tricky. When in doubt, try hitting the Esc key.
  • Tab or Shift+Tab = Press until the desired object is selected. If slide objects are layered on top of one another, it can be tricky sometimes to select what you want.
  • F5 = Run a slide show.
  • Page Down = In a slide show, move to the next slide.
  • Page Up = In a slide show, move to the previous slide.
  • Esc = In a slide show, press Esc to end the slide show.

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The Evils of the Print Button
When you print out your presentation, get into the habit of choosing File, Print, instead of using the Print button on the toolbar. Even though most of PowerPoint’s toolbar buttons are identical to the menu commands, the evil Print button is an exception. When you click the Print button, it prints with the default options, which are to print all the slides in the presentation in color. Because you don’t get the chance to access the Print dialog box, you don’t get to change any options. Many people have accidentally printed out a lot of pages when all they wanted was quick printout of one slide.
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Add or Remove Guides
PowerPoint’s guides can make it easier to align slide objects. If you want to add extra guides, be sure the pointer is an arrow and hold down the Ctrl key. Click a guide and drag it to a new location. Magically, a new guide appears. If you want to delete a guide, click and drag it off the slide.
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Select Placeholder Text
You can use keyboard shortcuts instead of mousing around to select text in a placeholder. To select one word, double-click the word. To select an entire paragraph, triple-click within the paragraph.
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Make a Placeholder Fit Its Text
If your placeholder is way too large for your text, you can size it automatically. Select the placeholder and choose Format, AutoShape. In the Text Box tab, click Resize AutoShape to fit text.
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Move Slides in Outline View
It’s easy to move slides around in Outline view. Click the slide icon that is to the left of the text, which selects the slide. Drag the icon up or down to a new place in your outline.
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Select Multiple Slides
In Slide Sorter view, you can select multiple slides by holding down the Shift key or the Ctrl key. If you hold down Ctrl, while you click, you can select multiple slides in any order. If you want to select a number of slides in a row, such as slide numbers 12 though 15, hold down the Shift key and click slide number 12 then click slide number 15. All four slides are selected.
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Find and Replace Font Screw Ups
Sometimes when you move a presentation to a new computer, PowerPoint may substitute fonts if the fonts required in the presentation aren’t loaded on the new machine. Sometimes this font substitution is dreadful. Choose Format, Replace Fonts and select a different font to remedy the problem.
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Same Size, But Different Shaped Duplicates
Sometimes you need to create two different shapes that are exactly the same size. An easy way to do this is to draw one AutoShape that is the size you want. Select the shape and choose Edit, Duplicate. Select the duplicate and choose Draw, Change AutoShape. Select a new shape.
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Add Your Own Custom Colors
Sometimes you need to match the colors in your presentation to a piece of imported clip art. Before you bring the clip art into PowerPoint, check the Red, Green, Blue (RGB) values for the color and write them down. In PowerPoint, when you select a color in the More Colors dialog box, click the Custom Color tab. Here you can type in the RGB values, so your color is exactly the same.
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Copy Formatting Effects
You can copy formatting from one object to another. Once you have one object the way you want it, select it and click the Format Painter button on the Standard toolbar. Then click the object you want to change. The second object is formatted with the attributes of the first object.
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Ditch the Grid
New PowerPoint users often find PowerPoint frustrating because they can’t place objects where they want them. It seems like objects are being pulled around because they don’t realize that PowerPoint is automatically snapping the objects to an underlying grid. By default, the Snap to Grid option is turned on. To turn it off, choose Draw, Snap and click To Grid. (If Snap to Grid is on, the button looks "pressed.")
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Place Objects Precisely
PowerPoint has positioning tools you can use to place objects precisely. Suppose for example, you have two objects in two different slides that you want to appear in exactly the same location on the slide. First, select the object that is in the correct location. Right click and choose the Format command. In the Position tab, check the horizontal and vertical position and write it down somewhere. Then select the second object, right-click and choose the Format command again. Enter the same numbers in the Horizontal and Vertical boxes that you wrote down before.
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Ditch Background Graphics
Graphics you place on the slide master appear in every slide in the presentation. For more graphic diversity, you may want to leave the graphics off certain slides. Choose Format, Background and place a checkmark next to Omit background graphics from master.
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Create Notes for the Nearsighted
You may want to change the default text size of your speaker notes if you are nearsighted. In Notes Page view, Try reducing the size of the slide placeholder and increasing the size of the text placeholder. Next, in the Notes Body Area change the font size to a larger size that you can read more easily.
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About Susan Daffron

Susan Daffron is the author the Alpine Grove Romantic Comedies and multiple award-winning nonfiction books, including several about pets and animal rescue. Check out all her books on her Amazon Author page.