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PowerPoint: Creating & Editing a Basic Presentation (PC)

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The following instructions will guide you in creating a no-frills (no text or special effects) PowerPoint presentation quickly. PowerPoint is a powerful and easy-to-use application that allows you to be very creative in designing presentations. If you would like to take advantage of more of PowerPoint's capabilities, Information Technology at Boston College offers occasional workshops on PowerPoint, or you can explore the PowerPoint resources available on Microsoft's website.

A note on terminology: In PowerPoint parlance, a "slide" refers to the work/display area that the application provides on your computer desktop. A PowerPoint slide can display multiple images (in addition to text, video, etc.). In order to avoid confusion, in the following instructions I refer to the art images included on a PowerPoint slide as "pictures."

Creating a basic presentation

  1. Download (save) this template to your desktop.

  2. Double-click on the Powerpoint template icon on your desktop. Powerpoint will open and provide you with a blank black "canvas" — the first "slide" in your Powerpoint presentation. Click on the "enable editing" button in the yellow band at the top of the window.

  3. To add an image to your Powerpoint slide, click on the "Insert" tab at the top of the window, then on "Picture" (just below and to the left of the insert tab). Use the dialog box to navigate to the image you wish to insert. When you locate that image, double-click on it to add it to the Powerpoint slide.

  4. To move a picture around on the PowerPoint slide, hold down your mouse button (make sure the cursor looks like a cross with four arrows) and drag the image.

  5. To re-size a picture, move your cursor over one of the picture's corner anchors (represented by dots at the corners; click anywhere on the picture to make them appear if they're not already visible). The cursor will change into a diagonal arrow pointing in two directions. Hold your mouse button down and drag to make the picture smaller or bigger. Please note: the pictures that the VRC provides with filenames ending in "p.jpg" are sized to fill a PowerPoint slide. You can make these pictures smaller, then bigger if you change your mind, without causing any problems. However, if you are inserting a digital picture from another source, you should check the size of the original digital image before attempting to enlarge it in PowerPoint. A small picture should not be enlarged beyond its original size. Doing so will result in a very poor-quality, grainy picture when projected. See How can I determine how big my image is? If you're creating your own digital image to use in PowerPoint, try to match the pixel dimensions of your image to the resolution of the highest-quality projector you're likely to display it on. In the VRC, the new images we create are 1600 pixels on their longest side, but newer projectors boast resolutions of 2000 pixels or more on their longer side.

  6. To add another picture to the same PowerPoint slide, repeat from number 3, above. You can continue to move or re-size pictures previously added to a slide, even after you've added subsequent pictures. Simply click on the picture that you want to move or re-size so that it is highlighted (the corner anchors will appear), then move or re-size the image as desired.

  7. To delete a picture from a slide, highlight it (make sure the white boxes are showing at the corners), and hit the "delete" key on your keyboard.

  8. When you are satisfied with your first PowerPoint slide, click on the "File" tab at the top of the window, and select "save as." Give your presentation a meaningful name, and save it to the location of your choice on your computer.

  9. To add the next slide to your Powerpoint presentation, click on the "Home" tab at the top of the window, and then on the picture just above "New slide" (just beneath the Home tab). To add an image to your new slide, repeat from step 3, above.

  10. Be sure to save your work periodically, and before quitting PowerPoint, by clicking on the diskette icon at the top left of your screen. If you wish to edit your presentation prior to quitting — for instance, change the sequence of the PowerPoint slides — see the "Editing a basic presentation" section below.

Using the Photo Album function to quickly create a presentation with one image per Powerpoint slide

This shortcut will create a Powerpoint presentation using all the images gathered in one folder on your computer. The resulting presentation will feature one image on each Powerpoint slide. Each image will be re-sized to fill the Powerpoint slide either vertically or horizontally. Once the presentation is created, you can edit it by re-sequencing and editing the slides.

  1. Make sure all of the images you wish to include in your presentation are gathered in one folder on your computer.

  2. Launch the Powerpoint application to create a new presentation.

  3. With the blank presentation open, click on the "insert" tab, and then on the down arrow beneath and to the right of the "Photo Album" icon. Select "New Photo Album," then click on the "File/Disk" button (under "Insert Picture From").

  4. Navigate to the folder with the images you wish to insert. Open the folder and, while holding down your shift key, click once on the first item in the folder and then once on the last item, so that all of the items in the folder are selected. Let go of the shift key, click on the "insert" button, and then on "create."

  5. Your newly created presentation includes a title slide. If you wish, you can delete the title slide and otherwise edit your presentation. See "Editing a basic presentation," below.

  6. The slides in your presentation have a white background. If you wish to change the background color to black (or another color), click on the "design" tab, select "Background styles" from the right end of the ribbon, and select the background you wish to use. That background will be applied to all of the slides in your presentation.

  7. When you are satisfied with your presentation, click on the "File" tab at the top of the window, and select "save as." Give your presentation a meaningful name, and save it to the location of your choice on your computer.

Editing a basic presentation

  1. Near the bottom right of your Powerpoint window, you will see four small icons. These represent the "view" choices in PowerPoint. The first icon, which looks like a square broken up into three parts, represents the main view. You have been working in the main view to create your presentation. The second icon, which looks like four small rectangles, is the "slide sorter" view. The fourth icon, which is supposed to look like a projection screen, I think, is the "slide show" view, which you will use to present your presentation in the classroom. We won't address here the "reading" view represented by the icon that looks like an open book.

  2. To re-sequence the PowerPoint slides in your presentation, click on the slide sorter view icon at the bottom left of the screen. Small representations of your PowerPoint slides will appear in a grid, in the sequence in which you created the slides. To move a slide, click once on it, so that it is highlighted, then drag it to its new position. You can also double-click on any of the slides if you wish to return to the main view for that slide, in order to edit its content (for instance, to add another picture).

  3. To delete a slide, right-click on it and select "delete slide" from the drop-down menu.

  4. To return to the main view from the slide sorter view, click on the main view icon.

Printing your presentation

You may find it helpful to print out a copy of your presentation to use as a reference in the classroom. PowerPoint offers many printing options. Here is one method, which prints out three PowerPoint slides per page, with room to write notes alongside them.

  1. With your presentation open, select click on the "File" tab and then on "print" in the left-hand column.

  2. In the main window, under "Settings," click on the down arrow at the right and select "3 Slides."

  3. Click on the down arrow to the right of "Color" and select "grayscale" (unless you have a color printer and wish to print the presentation in color).

  4. Click on the "print" button at the top of the window.

Useful Links

PowerPoint design tips

Introduction to Effective Image Usage in PowerPoint
This tutorial — itself a PowerPoint presentation — was created by Eileen Fry, the slide librarian at Indiana University. It covers the basics described in the steps above, but includes screen shots, as well as some more "advanced" techniques such as adding text to your PowerPoint slides.

Using Images in PowerPoint (and Microsoft Word) (external website). More information on inserting, positioning, cropping and re-sizing images in PowerPoint.

Viewing (presenting) a PowerPoint presentation

Boston College Information Technology Services training schedule

Working with digital images

Ammannati: Ponte Santa Trinità

Bottom image courtesy of Saskia, Ltd.
Bartolomeo Ammannati, Ponte Santa Trinità, Florence (1567-69)