Tuesday, April 26, 2011

PowerPoint Tip: Formatting text in a table

Recently I wrote about how to format text on slides because text will always be a part of our slides. Today I want to take the topic further and discuss the formatting of text in a table. Tables can be a great way to visually show a comparison between two or more items. In many cases, that table will include text, so we need to format it properly to make it easy for the audience to understand the comparison we are presenting.

There are some aspects of text formatting that work the same in tables as in text boxes. The most important is the ability to use tabs to format text into columns or align the text in a particular way within a table cell. As I talked about before, you can use four different tab types to achieve the text alignment you want. You can also use the text highlighting technique I described to make text stand out.

Another similarity between text boxes and table cells is a feature that was added in PowerPoint 2007. In PowerPoint 2007 and later, you can apply different formatting to the different lines in a text box or table cell. If you highlight a few lines of text, you can add tab stops, change whether the text is bulleted or not, or change the alignment without changing how the rest of the text in that text box or table cell appears. This gives you much greater flexibility in formatting text to get exactly what you are looking for.

While there are those aspects that are the same, there are also two important differences. The first difference you will need to keep in mind is that any tabs you add on the ruler apply only to the cell you are working in at the time. PowerPoint treats each cell as its own text box for the purposes of changes to the ruler. If you want to have the same tab stops on multiple cells, you will have to set them each individually. You can’t highlight a group of cells and add tab stops since the tab option for the ruler disappears when you select multiple cells in a table.

Another difference is in getting the tab stops to work. In a table cell, if you press the Tab key, you will jump to the next cell in the table. This is done to make it easy to navigate the table when entering text. To move to the next tab stop in a cell, hold the Control key down and press the Tab key. Then PowerPoint knows you want to move to the tab stop within the cell, not jump to the next cell. It takes a bit of practice to get used to doing this if you mostly work with tabs in a text box.

Tables are a good way to show a comparison between two or more items on multiple dimensions. You can have a row for each criteria and the audience can easily follow your discussion. Use the tips in this article to format the text in tables so they look exactly as you want them to.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

PowerPoint Tip: Using Exit animation to reveal a graphic

The last step in my five-step KWICK method from my book The Visual Slide Revolution is to Keep the Focus of the audience. The best way to do this is to build your points or slide elements one by one on the slide. This works if you have created the visual, but it isn’t so easy if you are using a graphic that was supplied to you. This article is about using a technique to reveal a graphic piece by piece.

Revealing a graphic is like what our teachers used to do with overhead transparencies. They would place a piece of paper over the transparency, covering up what they didn’t want us to see yet. They would slide the paper down to reveal each point as they spoke. This gives the same benefit to the audience as building elements on the slide, so we can use this technique with graphics that have been supplied to us for our presentation.

The first step is to position the supplied graphic on the slide. Make it as big as you need to, depending on what else you are placing on the slide. If the graphic is in a PDF document such as a brochure or report, use the technique for copying graphics from PDF documents that I discussed in the newsletter last November (click here to read that issue in the archives).

Now, just like our teacher, we need to cover up the graphic. You can use the regular drawing tools in PowerPoint to create shapes that will cover up each piece of the graphic. Usually, you will draw a series of rectangles that will cover up two to four sections of the graphic. Make the fill and outline color of the shapes the same as the background color of the graphic so it looks like you are building the graphic piece by piece.

The last step is to make these shapes slide off the graphic like the teacher did with the piece of paper, revealing what is underneath. To do this, select the shape and apply an Exit animation effect. I suggest the Wipe effect in the direction that makes sense. For example, if you are revealing pieces of a graphic from left to right, have the shapes wipe to the right, just like it would look like if we had a piece of paper on a transparency.

Now, when you present, you can speak about each part of the graphic individually, without the entire graphic being displayed from the start and distracting the audience. You can see an example of this in my slide makeover video here. This is one of the many advanced techniques I cover in my Advanced PowerPoint Techniques webinar hosted by Rhonda Scharf. If you’d like to attend, click here to get all the details about the next session and sign up.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

PowerPoint Slide Makeover #73: Making proportions stand out

Below I’ve posted a new Slide Makeover Video Podcast based on the ideas in "The Visual Slide Revolution". A pie chart is better than a data table to show proportions in data. This makeover takes it the next step to show how a proportional diagram can be more effective than a pie chart in some situations.

The slides I use in my makeovers are drawn from my consulting engagements and training workshops. If you want to submit some of your slides to be considered for a future slide makeover, e-mail them to me at Dave@ThinkOutsideTheSlide.com.

You can get all my podcasts through iTunes, subscribing to my YouTube channel, or through Brainshark. If you have subscribed via iTunes or YouTube, please provide your positive feedback on the videos in the Comments and Ratings areas of the service so others know the value you get from the videos.