guidelines in creating powerpoint presentation

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PowerPoint Tips  - Simple Rules for Better PowerPoint Presentations

Powerpoint tips  -, simple rules for better powerpoint presentations, powerpoint tips simple rules for better powerpoint presentations.

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PowerPoint Tips: Simple Rules for Better PowerPoint Presentations

Lesson 17: simple rules for better powerpoint presentations.

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Simple rules for better PowerPoint presentations

Have you ever given a PowerPoint presentation and noticed that something about it just seemed a little … off? If you’re unfamiliar with basic PowerPoint design principles, it can be difficult to create a slide show that presents your information in the best light.

Poorly designed presentations can leave an audience feeling confused, bored, and even irritated. Review these tips to make your next presentation more engaging.

Don't read your presentation straight from the slides

If your audience can both read and hear, it’s a waste of time for you to simply read your slides aloud. Your audience will zone out and stop listening to what you’re saying, which means they won’t hear any extra information you include.

Instead of typing out your entire presentation, include only main ideas, keywords, and talking points in your slide show text. Engage your audience by sharing the details out loud.

Follow the 5/5/5 rule

To keep your audience from feeling overwhelmed, you should keep the text on each slide short and to the point. Some experts suggest using the 5/5/5 rule : no more than five words per line of text, five lines of text per slide, or five text-heavy slides in a row.

slide with too much text versus a slide with just enough text

Don't forget your audience

Who will be watching your presentation? The same goofy effects and funny clip art that would entertain a classroom full of middle-school students might make you look unprofessional in front of business colleagues and clients.

Humor can lighten up a presentation, but if you use it inappropriately your audience might think you don’t know what you’re doing. Know your audience, and tailor your presentation to their tastes and expectations.

Choose readable colors and fonts

Your text should be easy to read and pleasant to look at. Large, simple fonts and theme colors are always your best bet. The best fonts and colors can vary depending on your presentation setting. Presenting in a large room? Make your text larger than usual so people in the back can read it. Presenting with the lights on? Dark text on a light background is your best bet for visibility.

Screenshot of Microsoft PowerPoint

Don't overload your presentation with animations

As anyone who’s sat through a presentation while every letter of every paragraph zoomed across the screen can tell you, being inundated with complicated animations and exciting slide transitions can become irritating.

Before including effects like this in your presentation, ask yourself: Would this moment in the presentation be equally strong without an added effect? Does it unnecessarily delay information? If the answer to either question is yes—or even maybe—leave out the effect.

Use animations sparingly to enhance your presentation

Don’t take the last tip to mean you should avoid animations and other effects entirely. When used sparingly, subtle effects and animations can add to your presentation. For example, having bullet points appear as you address them rather than before can help keep your audience’s attention.

Keep these tips in mind the next time you create a presentation—your audience will thank you. For more detailed information on creating a PowerPoint presentation, visit our Office tutorials .

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guidelines in creating powerpoint presentation

Powerpoint Presentation Tips and Best Practices

(Note: S uitable for users of PowerPoint 2016, 2019, 2021, and PowerPoint for Microsoft 365 . )

Understand the dos and don’ts of effective PowerPoint design that adheres to best practice guidelines.

PowerPoint Presentation Tips and Design Explained

PowerPoint is a presentation application that helps us communicate our thoughts and ideas to an audience. It’s designed to assist the presenter, not to be a replacement for the presenter. However, simply ‘slapping’ together a few slides and adding some text and a couple of images doesn’t quite cut it in 2022.

PowerPoint has evolved in leaps and bounds over the last few years. No longer are we stuck with creating long, linear slide decks full of bulleted lists and text, inflicting ‘Death by PowerPoint’ on our audience.

Modern slide design tells a story. It allows the viewer to choose their own path through the presentation. We use animation sparingly and effectively. We think about color, font, and accessibility. We choose images over text and consider our audience before we begin our design.

The latest versions of PowerPoint (365, 2016, 2019, 2021) contain many new features to help us build a truly awesome PowerPoint presentation. However, the ‘rules’ with regard to effective design remain the same as ever. By knowing and employing a few basic best practice principles, we can create an attractive, modern presentation that communicates our message effectively.

guidelines in creating powerpoint presentation

1. What is the Goal?

2. know your audience, 3. create an outline, 4. decide on visuals.

  • 5. Text. Less is More

6. Use Readable Fonts

7. be mindful of color, 8. design for wide screen, 9. be consistent with style.

  • 10. Animation. Less is More

11. Consider Templates

12. end with action points.

Related reads:

How to Wrap Text in PowerPoint

How to Add a Watermark in PowerPoint

How to Add a Hyperlink to a PowerPoint

Best Practice Guidelines

Best Practice Guidelines give us a framework from which to work within. Much like a blueprint, we can follow these rules to ensure we are designing our slide deck in the best way for our audience.

Before we begin, it’s important to establish the goal of the presentation, as this will affect how we design our slides. What are we hoping to achieve? Is this a Sales pitch to a potential client? Are we trying to sell a product or service? Is this an internal presentation for our team? Work out what the goal is prior to creating slides.

For example, if this is a sales pitch to a potential client, it’s important to get to the relevant points quickly. Identify early where you see problems and then offer solutions. This helps get ‘buy-in’, and the client understands how we can benefit their organization. If we present data in charts, ensure the charts are simple to read and communicate key metrics important to that client.

guidelines in creating powerpoint presentation

It’s also worth thinking about how to end the presentation. Do we want our audience to take action on something? Do we want to encourage them to follow us on social media? Or maybe we need them to go to a website and register for a newsletter. Maybe we want them to think about certain key points and provide feedback at a later time. Remember to include clear calls to action.

guidelines in creating powerpoint presentation

Establishing who we are presenting to is vital. Different audiences will require different slide designs. For example, if we are presenting to a board of CEOs and stakeholders, we need to ensure the presentation is professional, business-like, focused on key metrics, and establishes our brand. Whereas, if we are putting together a presentation for our local tennis club, we can afford to be more relaxed with the design.

Our audience determines how we design a presentation. It affects the types of images we use, which fonts and colors we use, and the messaging we work into the slides.

The environment also plays a key role. Will they be in a meeting room viewing the presentation on a projector? Will they be sitting next to you at your desk? Will they be receiving an email copy of the presentation? Will the presentation be on large screens at an event? For example, if we present in a large auditorium, we must ensure that even the people at the back can see everything. We need to consider font size, font style, contrast, and the types of images we use.

NOTE : Many times, organizations will have their own PowerPoint template to use for all company presentations. Templates ensure that every presentation is consistent, uses branded colors, and contains items like the company logo. We should always ensure that we are working within our organization’s branding guidelines when designing.

Try and establish these three key factors:

  • Who will be watching?
  • What’s important to them?
  • What’s the environment?

guidelines in creating powerpoint presentation

An outline is similar to a storyboard. We can plan out our slides ahead of time to establish flow, presentation length, and timings.

An outline can be something as simple as drawing out slides in a notepad and jotting down the key points to cover, or we can use PowerPoint to create a ‘wireframe’. A wireframe is simply a plan of how each slide will look and what content is to be included.

guidelines in creating powerpoint presentation

Establishing what needs to be included from the start means that we are less likely to forget to include important information, and we can plan our slide deck more effectively.

Visual elements are a huge part of PowerPoint. The phrase ‘a picture speaks 1000 words’ is true, with most people remembering infographics, charts, and other images over bulleted lists of text. It’s important to think about the types of visuals to include in the presentation ahead of time. Do we want to use photos? What about charts? Are we going to use icons? What about video?

guidelines in creating powerpoint presentation

We can use multiple types of visual elements in our presentations, and we need to think about what will convey our message best. Also, think about the tone of the presentation and match any visual elements to that.

guidelines in creating powerpoint presentation

Color and font style are also very important. If company-branded colors do not restrict us, we need to think about the color palette of our presentation and ensure we use a selection of colors that complement one another.

If you struggle with color, the Canva Color Wheel is a great free tool for finding complementary colors based on a starting color.

guidelines in creating powerpoint presentation

5. Text. Less is More.

When it comes to text, less is definitely more. One mistake many presenters make is adding everything they want to say to the slide. Too much text renders the presenter redundant. PowerPoint is designed to be a presentation aid, not the entire presentation.

An audience should be focused on the presenter. Powerpoint can list some brief, key talking points, but the presenter should speak most of the information. If we have a ‘wall of words’ on a slide, it’s very difficult for the human brain to read and listen at the same time.

guidelines in creating powerpoint presentation

A good guide to stick to is ‘The Rule of 5/5/5’. No more than 5 words per line, no more than 5 lines per slide, and no more than 5 text-heavy slides in a row. Keep text to a minimum and break up text-based slides with images, charts, and other visuals.

Font selection is incredibly important, and not all fonts are created equally.

Over the years, I’ve seen many presentations ruined by crazy font choices. For business presentations, it’s best to stick to well-established, easy-to-read fonts: Arial, Tahoma, Calibri, Verdana, and Times New Roman are some of the most popular.

With that said, using the same font throughout the entire presentation can make our slide deck look a little stale and boring. Don’t be scared to use more than one font style, although try and stick to three or less. If we are going to use more than one font in the presentation, we should ensure that the fonts are from the same font family to keep things looking consistent and tied together.

guidelines in creating powerpoint presentation

For example, we might use Lato font for the majority of the text in the presentation, Lato Black for the headings, and Lato Light for text boxes and sub-headings.

Stick to fonts that are easy to read even when the font size is relatively small.

A great website for finding complimentary font pairings is Fontjoy .

Suggested reads:

How to Change PowerPoint Slides to Portrait

How to Change Slide Size in PowerPoint

How to Save PowerPoint as Video

Color can make or break a presentation. Choose the wrong colors, and at best, the presentation will look unprofessional and, at worst, will give people a headache.

guidelines in creating powerpoint presentation

We need to think about our color choices carefully. Choose high-contrast colors like white text on a dark background or dark text on a light background.

guidelines in creating powerpoint presentation

In PowerPoint 2021, we can choose between two slide sizes: Standard (4:3) and Widescreen (16:9).

Always design for widescreen! If we create a slide deck using the standard size and someone with a widescreen opens the presentation, PowerPoint needs to scale the presentation up, which can lead to problems, distortion, and misaligned objects. It’s much easier for PowerPoint to scale a presentation down.

  • Click on the Design tab.
  • From the Customize group, click Slide Size .
  • Choose Widescreen from the menu.

guidelines in creating powerpoint presentation

It’s important that all slides in a deck look like they are part of that presentation. They should have a consistent look and feel. One of the best ways of tying slides together is to use color.

Choose a color palette of complementary colors and use them consistently throughout the presentation. Sticking to just a few colors prevents the presentation from looking like a rainbow.

In PowerPoint 2021, we have a great utility called ‘Eyedropper’, which helps us copy colors from one object to the next, ensuring that we are picking the exact same color every single time. If we have an image on our slide, we could use the eyedropper tool to pick a specific color from the image and then use that color to fill another shape or icon.

We could even use the colors in an image to help build our own color palette.

guidelines in creating powerpoint presentation

10. Animation. Less is More.

Much like text, when it comes to animation, less is more.

How many presentations have you seen where the author has been a bit too enthusiastic with their animation effects? Text boxes fly in from the top, bullet points spin in from the left, and images pulsing in different colors. It’s enough to make anyone go crazy.

Animation when used correctly can really elevate a presentation and emphasize important points. Animation can also make our presentation look slick and modern. The key point here is ‘when used correctly’. The animation should enhance and not distract.

The rule here is to try and stick to less than three different animation effects in the presentation. Subtle animation tends to work better than something more dynamic and ‘in your face’.

For example, if we have a list of bullet points and we want to speak about the first one before the next one is visible to the audience, we might add a ‘fade in’ animation to the bullets. The second bullet point will subtly fade in and won’t give anyone in the audience a seizure.

Templates give us a head start when creating a PowerPoint presentation. Instead of staring at a blank presentation, not knowing where to start, we could choose a template from PowerPoint’s template gallery and have a lot of the hard work done for us.

guidelines in creating powerpoint presentation

PowerPoint 2021 has hundreds of in-built templates available to use for free. All templates are divided into categories, and if we are looking for something specific, we can use the search bar.

  • Click on the File tab.
  • Click on New .
  • In the templates section, type the search term into the search bar.

guidelines in creating powerpoint presentation

PowerPoint templates include pre-made slides, images, shapes, sample text, colors, fonts, and effects. Every element of the template can be customized to use your own colors and images.

If we can’t find a template that suits our needs, there are many websites that offer free and paid PowerPoint templates for download.

For free templates, check out Slides Carnival

For beautiful, high-quality paid templates, check out Envato Elements.

We always want to make sure we end our presentations on a high. Leave the audience with action points or a task to complete.

For example, we might want our audience to provide feedback or get their opinion on the topic discussed. Or maybe we need them to complete a survey. Maybe we want to get them to follow us on social media, or we want them to complete an exercise. Whatever the action points, provide all the details at the end.

Sometimes, it’s worth mentioning at the beginning of the presentation that there will be some calls to action at the end. This can prevent people from zoning out or not paying attention if they know they will be required to do something at the end.

If we want to direct the audience to a specific website, we can utilize the QR Code add-in for PowerPoint 2021 so they can scan it with their phone.

guidelines in creating powerpoint presentation

How to Make a Flowchart in PowerPoint

How to Link Excel to PowerPoint

How to Add Slide Numbers in PowerPoint

Please visit our free resources center for more high-quality PowerPoint and Microsoft Suite application guides.

Ready to dive deep into PowerPoint? Click here for basic to advanced PowerPoint courses with in-depth training modules.

Simon Sez IT has been teaching PowerPoint and other business software for over ten years. You can access 160+ IT training courses for a low monthly fee.

guidelines in creating powerpoint presentation

Deborah Ashby

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Deborah Ashby is a TAP Accredited IT Trainer, specializing in the design, delivery, and facilitation of Microsoft courses both online and in the classroom.She has over 11 years of IT Training Experience and 24 years in the IT Industry. To date, she's trained over 10,000 people in the UK and overseas at companies such as HMRC, the Metropolitan Police, Parliament, SKY, Microsoft, Kew Gardens, Norton Rose Fulbright LLP.She's a qualified MOS Master for 2010, 2013, and 2016 editions of Microsoft Office and is COLF and TAP Accredited and a member of The British Learning Institute.

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Making better powerpoint presentations.

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Baddeley and Hitch’s model of working memory.

Research about student preferences for powerpoint, resources for making better powerpoint presentations, bibliography.

We have all experienced the pain of a bad PowerPoint presentation. And even though we promise ourselves never to make the same mistakes, we can still fall prey to common design pitfalls.  The good news is that your PowerPoint presentation doesn’t have to be ordinary. By keeping in mind a few guidelines, your classroom presentations can stand above the crowd!

“It is easy to dismiss design – to relegate it to mere ornament, the prettifying of places and objects to disguise their banality. But that is a serious misunderstanding of what design is and why it matters.” Daniel Pink

One framework that can be useful when making design decisions about your PowerPoint slide design is Baddeley and Hitch’s model of working memory .

guidelines in creating powerpoint presentation

As illustrated in the diagram above, the Central Executive coordinates the work of three systems by organizing the information we hear, see, and store into working memory.

The Phonological Loop deals with any auditory information. Students in a classroom are potentially listening to a variety of things: the instructor, questions from their peers, sound effects or audio from the PowerPoint presentation, and their own “inner voice.”

The Visuo-Spatial Sketchpad deals with information we see. This involves such aspects as form, color, size, space between objects, and their movement. For students this would include: the size and color of fonts, the relationship between images and text on the screen, the motion path of text animation and slide transitions, as well as any hand gestures, facial expressions, or classroom demonstrations made by the instructor.

The Episodic Buffer integrates the information across these sensory domains and communicates with long-term memory. All of these elements are being deposited into a holding tank called the “episodic buffer.” This buffer has a limited capacity and can become “overloaded” thereby, setting limits on how much information students can take in at once.

Laura Edelman and Kathleen Harring from Muhlenberg College , Allentown, Pennsylvania have developed an approach to PowerPoint design using Baddeley and Hitch’s model. During the course of their work, they conducted a survey of students at the college asking what they liked and didn’t like about their professor’s PowerPoint presentations. They discovered the following:

Characteristics students don’t like about professors’ PowerPoint slides

  • Too many words on a slide
  • Movement (slide transitions or word animations)
  • Templates with too many colors

Characteristics students like like about professors’ PowerPoint slides

  • Graphs increase understanding of content
  • Bulleted lists help them organize ideas
  • PowerPoint can help to structure lectures
  • Verbal explanations of pictures/graphs help more than written clarifications

According to Edelman and Harring, some conclusions from the research at Muhlenberg are that students learn more when:

  • material is presented in short phrases rather than full paragraphs.
  • the professor talks about the information on the slide rather than having students read it on their own.
  • relevant pictures are used. Irrelevant pictures decrease learning compared to PowerPoint slides with no picture
  • they take notes (if the professor is not talking). But if the professor is lecturing, note-taking and listening decreased learning.
  • they are given the PowerPoint slides before the class.

Advice from Edelman and Harring on leveraging the working memory with PowerPoint:

  • Leverage the working memory by dividing the information between the visual and auditory modality.  Doing this reduces the likelihood of one system becoming overloaded. For instance, spoken words with pictures are better than pictures with text, as integrating an image and narration takes less cognitive effort than integrating an image and text.
  • Minimize the opportunity for distraction by removing any irrelevant material such as music, sound effects, animations, and background images.
  • Use simple cues to direct learners to important points or content. Using text size, bolding, italics, or placing content in a highlighted or shaded text box is all that is required to convey the significance of key ideas in your presentation.
  • Don’t put every word you intend to speak on your PowerPoint slide. Instead, keep information displayed in short chunks that are easily read and comprehended.
  • One of the mostly widely accessed websites about PowerPoint design is Garr Reynolds’ blog, Presentation Zen . In his blog entry:  “ What is Good PowerPoint Design? ” Reynolds explains how to keep the slide design simple, yet not simplistic, and includes a few slide examples that he has ‘made-over’ to demonstrate how to improve its readability and effectiveness. He also includes sample slides from his own presentation about PowerPoint slide design.
  • Another presentation guru, David Paradi, author of “ The Visual Slide Revolution: Transforming Overloaded Text Slides into Persuasive Presentations ” maintains a video podcast series called “ Think Outside the Slide ” where he also demonstrates PowerPoint slide makeovers. Examples on this site are typically from the corporate perspective, but the process by which content decisions are made is still relevant for higher education. Paradi has also developed a five step method, called KWICK , that can be used as a simple guide when designing PowerPoint presentations.
  • In the video clip below, Comedian Don McMillan talks about some of the common misuses of PowerPoint in his routine called “Life After Death by PowerPoint.”

  • This article from The Chronicle of Higher Education highlights a blog moderated by Microsoft’s Doug Thomas that compiles practical PowerPoint advice gathered from presentation masters like Seth Godin , Guy Kawasaki , and Garr Reynolds .

Presenting to Win: The Art of Telling Your Story , by Jerry Weissman, Prentice Hall, 2006

Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery , by Garr Reynolds, New Riders Press, 2008

Solving the PowerPoint Predicament: using digital media for effective communication , by Tom Bunzel , Que, 2006

The Cognitive Style of Power Point , by Edward R. Tufte, Graphics Pr, 2003

The Visual Slide Revolution: Transforming Overloaded Text Slides into Persuasive Presentations , by Dave Paradi, Communications Skills Press, 2000

Why Most PowerPoint Presentations Suck: And How You Can Make Them Better , by Rick Altman, Harvest Books, 2007

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How to Make a PowerPoint Presentation (Step-by-Step)

  • PowerPoint Tutorials
  • Presentation Design
  • January 22, 2024

In this beginner’s guide, you will learn step-by-step how to make a PowerPoint presentation from scratch.

While PowerPoint is designed to be intuitive and accessible, it can be overwhelming if you’ve never gotten any training on it before. As you progress through this guide, you’ll will learn how to move from blank slides to PowerPoint slides that look like these.

Example of the six slides you'll learn how to create in this tutorial

Table of Contents

Additionally, as you create your presentation, you’ll also learn tricks for working more efficiently in PowerPoint, including how to:

  • Change the slide order
  • Reset your layout
  • Change the slide dimensions
  • Use PowerPoint Designer
  • Format text
  • Format objects
  • Play a presentation (slide show)

With this knowledge under your belt, you’ll be ready to start creating PowerPoint presentations. Moreover, you’ll have taken your skills from beginner to proficient in no time at all. I will also include links to more advanced PowerPoint topics.

Ready to start learning how to make a PowerPoint presentation?

Take your PPT skills to the next level

Start with a blank presentation.

Note: Before you open PowerPoint and start creating your presentation, make sure you’ve collected your thoughts. If you’re going to make your slides compelling, you need to spend some time brainstorming.

For help with this, see our article with tips for nailing your business presentation  here .

The first thing you’ll need to do is to open PowerPoint. When you do, you are shown the Start Menu , with the Home tab open.

This is where you can choose either a blank theme (1) or a pre-built theme (2). You can also choose to open an existing presentation (3).

For now, go ahead and click on the  Blank Presentation (1)  thumbnail.

In the backstage view of PowerPoint you can create a new blank presentation, use a template, or open a recent file

Doing so launches a brand new and blank presentation for you to work with. Before you start adding content to your presentation, let’s first familiarize ourselves with the PowerPoint interface.

The PowerPoint interface

Picture of the different parts of the PowerPoint layout, including the Ribbon, thumbnail view, quick access toolbar, notes pane, etc.

Here is how the program is laid out:

  • The Application Header
  • The Ribbon (including the Ribbon tabs)
  • The Quick Access Toolbar (either above or below the Ribbon)
  • The Slides Pane (slide thumbnails)

The Slide Area

The notes pane.

  • The Status Bar (including the View Buttons)

Each one of these areas has options for viewing certain parts of the PowerPoint environment and formatting your presentation.

Below are the important things to know about certain elements of the PowerPoint interface.

The PowerPoint Ribbon

The PowerPoint Ribbon in the Microsoft Office Suite

The Ribbon is contextual. That means that it will adapt to what you’re doing in the program.

For example, the Font, Paragraph and Drawing options are greyed out until you select something that has text in it, as in the example below (A).

Example of the Shape Format tab in PowerPoint and all of the subsequent commands assoicated with that tab

Furthermore, if you start manipulating certain objects, the Ribbon will display additional tabs, as seen above (B), with more commands and features to help you work with those objects. The following objects have their own additional tabs in the Ribbon which are hidden until you select them:

  • Online Pictures
  • Screenshots
  • Screen Recording

The Slides Pane

The slides pane in PowerPoint is on the left side of your workspace

This is where you can preview and rearrange all the slides in your presentation.

Right-clicking on a slide  in the pane gives you additional options on the slide level that you won’t find on the Ribbon, such as  Duplicate Slide ,  Delete Slide , and  Hide Slide .

Right clicking a PowerPoint slide in the thumbnail view gives you a variety of options like adding new slides, adding sections, changing the layout, etc.

In addition, you can add sections to your presentation by  right-clicking anywhere in this Pane  and selecting  Add Section . Sections are extremely helpful in large presentations, as they allow you to organize your slides into chunks that you can then rearrange, print or display differently from other slides.

Content added to your PowerPoint slides will only display if it's on the slide area, marked here by the letter A

The Slide Area (A) is where you will build out your slides. Anything within the bounds of this area will be visible when you present or print your presentation.

Anything outside of this area (B) will be hidden from view. This means that you can place things here, such as instructions for each slide, without worrying about them being shown to your audience.

The notes pane in PowerPoint is located at the bottom of your screen and is where you can type your speaker notes

The  Notes Pane  is the space beneath the Slide Area where you can type in the speaker notes for each slide. It’s designed as a fast way to add and edit your slides’ talking points.

To expand your knowledge and learn more about adding, printing, and exporting your PowerPoint speaker notes, read our guide here .

Your speaker notes are visible when you print your slides using the Notes Pages option and when you use the Presenter View . To expand your knowledge and learn the ins and outs of using the Presenter View , read our guide here .

You can click and drag to resize the notes pane at the bottom of your PowerPoint screen

You can resize the  Notes Pane  by clicking on its edge and dragging it up or down (A). You can also minimize or reopen it by clicking on the Notes button in the Status Bar (B).

Note:  Not all text formatting displays in the Notes Pane, even though it will show up when printing your speaker notes. To learn more about printing PowerPoint with notes, read our guide here .

Now that you have a basic grasp of the PowerPoint interface at your disposal, it’s time to make your presentation.

Adding Content to Your PowerPoint Presentation

Notice that in the Slide Area , there are two rectangles with dotted outlines. These are called  Placeholders  and they’re set on the template in the Slide Master View .

To expand your knowledge and learn how to create a PowerPoint template of your own (which is no small task), read our guide here .

Click into your content placeholders and start typing text, just as the prompt suggests

As the prompt text suggests, you can click into each placeholder and start typing text. These types of placeholder prompts are customizable too. That means that if you are using a company template, it might say something different, but the functionality is the same.

Example of typing text into a content placeholder in PowerPoint

Note:  For the purposes of this example, I will create a presentation based on the content in the Starbucks 2018 Global Social Impact Report, which is available to the public on their website.

If you type in more text than there is room for, PowerPoint will automatically reduce its font size. You can stop this behavior by clicking on the  Autofit Options  icon to the left of the placeholder and selecting  Stop Fitting Text to this Placeholder .

Next, you can make formatting adjustments to your text by selecting the commands in the Font area and the  Paragraph area  of the  Home  tab of the Ribbon.

Use the formatting options on the Home tab to choose the formatting of your text

The Reset Command:  If you make any changes to your title and decide you want to go back to how it was originally, you can use the Reset button up in the Home tab .

Hitting the reset command on the home tab resets your slide formatting to match your template

Insert More Slides into Your Presentation

Now that you have your title slide filled in, it’s time to add more slides. To do that, simply go up to the  Home tab  and click on  New Slide . This inserts a new slide in your presentation right after the one you were on.

To insert a new slide in PowerPoint, on the home tab click the New Slide command

You can alternatively hit Ctrl+M on your keyboard to insert a new blank slide in PowerPoint. To learn more about this shortcut, see my guide on using Ctrl+M in PowerPoint .

Instead of clicking the New Slide command, you can also open the New Slide dropdown to see all the slide layouts in your PowerPoint template. Depending on who created your template, your layouts in this dropdown can be radically different.

Opening the new slide dropdown you can see all the slide layouts in your PowerPoint template

If you insert a layout and later want to change it to a different layout, you can use the Layout dropdown instead of the New Slide dropdown.

After inserting a few different slide layouts, your presentation might look like the following picture. Don’t worry that it looks blank, next we will start adding content to your presentation.

Example of a number of different blank slide layouts inserting in a PowerPoint presentation

If you want to follow along exactly with me, your five slides should be as follows:

  • Title Slide
  • Title and Content
  • Section Header
  • Two Content
  • Picture with Caption

Adding Content to Your Slides

Now let’s go into each slide and start adding our content. You’ll notice some new types of placeholders.

Use the icons within a content placeholder to insert things like tables, charts, SmartArt, Pictures, etc.

On slide 2 we have a  Content Placeholder , which allows you to add any kind of content. That includes:

  • A SmartArt graphic,
  • A 3D object,
  • A picture from the web,
  • Or an icon.

To insert text, simply type it in or hit  Ctrl+C to Copy  and Ctrl+V to Paste  from elsewhere. To insert any of the other objects, click on the appropriate icon and follow the steps to insert it.

For my example, I’ll simply type in some text as you can see in the picture below.

Example typing bulleted text in a content placeholder in PowerPoint

Slides 3 and 4 only have text placeholders, so I’ll go ahead and add in my text into each one.

Examples of text typed into a divider slide and a title and content slide in PowerPoint

On slide 5 we have a Picture Placeholder . That means that the only elements that can go into it are:

  • A picture from the web

A picture placeholder in PowerPoint can only take an image or an icon

To insert a picture into the picture placeholder, simply:

  • Click on the  Picture  icon
  • Find  a picture on your computer and select it
  • Click on  Insert

Alternatively, if you already have a picture open somewhere else, you can select the placeholder and paste in (shortcut: Ctrl+V ) the picture. You can also drag the picture in from a file explorer window.

To insert a picture into a picture placeholder, click the picture icon, find your picture on your computer and click insert

If you do not like the background of the picture you inserted onto your slide, you can remove the background here in PowerPoint. To see how to do this, read my guide here .

Placeholders aren’t the only way to add content to your slides. At any point, you can use the Insert tab to add elements to your slides.

You can use either the Title Only  or the  Blank  slide layout to create slides for content that’s different. For example, a three-layout content slide, or a single picture divider slide, as shown below.

Example slides using PowerPoint icons and background pictures

In the first example above, I’ve inserted 6 text boxes, 3 icons, and 3 circles to create this layout. In the second example, I’ve inserted a full-sized picture and then 2 shapes and 2 text boxes.

The Reset Command:  Because these slides are built with shapes and text boxes (and not placeholders), hitting the  Reset button up in the  Home tab  won’t do anything.

That is a good thing if you don’t want your layouts to adjust. However, it does mean that it falls on you to make sure everything is aligned and positioned correctly.

For more on how to add and manipulate the different objects in PowerPoint, check out our step-by-step articles here:

  • Using graphics in PowerPoint
  • Inserting icons onto slides
  • Adding pictures to your PowerPoint
  • How to embed a video in PowerPoint
  • How to add music to your presentation

Using Designer to generate more layouts ideas

If you have Office 365, your version of PowerPoint comes with a new feature called Designer (or Design Ideas). This is a feature that generates slide layout ideas for you. The coolest thing about this feature is that it uses the content you already have.

To use Designer , simply navigate to the  Design tab  in your Ribbon, and click on  Design Ideas .

To use Designer on your slides, click the

NOTE: If the PowerPoint Designer is not working for you (it is grey out), see my troubleshooting guide for Designer .

Change the Overall Design (optional)

When you make a PowerPoint presentation, you’ll want to think about the overall design. Now that you have some content in your presentation, you can use the Design tab to change the look and feel of your slides.

For additional help thinking through the design of your presentation,  read my guide here .

A. Picking your PowerPoint slide size

If you have PowerPoint 2013 or later, when you create a blank document in PowerPoint, you automatically start with a widescreen layout with a 16:9 ratio. These dimensions are suitable for most presentations as they match the screens of most computers and projectors.

However, you do have the option to change the dimensions.

For example, your presentation might not be presented, but instead converted into a PDF or printed and distributed. In that case, you can easily switch to the standard dimensions with a 4:3 ratio by selecting from the dropdown (A).

You can also choose a custom slide size or change the slide orientation from landscape to portrait in the Custom Slide Size dialog box (B).

To change your slide size, click the Design tab, open the slide size dropdown and choose a size or custom slide size

To learn all about the different PowerPoint slide sizes, and some of the issues you will face when changing the slide size of a non-blank presentation,  read my guide here .

 B. Selecting a PowerPoint theme

The next thing you can do is change the theme of your presentation to a pre-built one. For a detailed explanation of what a PowerPoint theme is, and how to best use it,  read my article here .

In the beginning of this tutorial, we started with a blank presentation, which uses the default Office theme as you can see in the picture below.

All PowerPoint presentations start with the default Microsoft Office theme

That gives you the most flexibility because it has a blank background and quite simple layouts that work for most presentations. However, it also means that it’s your responsibility to enhance the design.

If you’re comfortable with this, you can stay with the default theme or create your own custom theme ( read my guide here ). But if you would rather not have to think about design, then you can choose a pre-designed theme.

Microsoft provides 46 other pre-built themes, which include slide layouts, color variants and palettes, and fonts. Each one varies quite significantly, so make sure you look through them carefully.

To select a different theme, go to the  Design tab  in the Ribbon, and click on the  dropdown arrow  in the  Themes section .

On the Design tab you will find all of the default PowerPoint templates that come with the Microsoft Office Suite

For this tutorial, let’s select the  Frame  theme and then choose the third Variant in the theme. Doing so changes the layout, colors, and fonts of your presentation.

Example choosing the Frame PowerPoint theme and the third variant of this powerpoint presentation

Note: The theme dropdown area is also where you can import or save custom themes. To see my favorite places to find professional PowerPoint templates and themes (and recommendations for why I like them), read my guide here .

C. How to change a slide background in PowerPoint

The next thing to decide is how you want your background to look for the entire presentation. In the  Variants area, you can see four background options.

To change the background style of your presentation, on the Design tab, find the Background Styles options and choose a style

For this example, we want our presentation to have a dark background, so let’s select Style 3. When you do so, you’ll notice that:

  • The background color automatically changes across all slides
  • The color of the text on most of the slides automatically changes to white so that it’s visible on the dark background
  • The colors of the objects on slides #6 and #7 also adjust, in a way we may not want (we’ll likely have to make some manual adjustments to these slides)

What our PowerPoint presentation looks like now that we have selected a theme, a variant, and a background style

Note: If you want to change the slide background for just that one slide, don’t left-click the style. Instead, right-click it and select Apply to Selected Slides .

After you change the background for your entire presentation, you can easily adjust the background for an individual slide.

You can either right-click a PowerPoint slide and select format background or navigate to the design tab and click the format background command

Inside the Format Background pane, you can see you have the following options:

  • Gradient fill
  • Picture or texture fill
  • Pattern fill
  • Hide background

You can explore these options to find the PowerPoint background that best fits your presentation.

D. How to change your color palette in PowerPoint

Another thing you may want to adjust in your presentation, is the color scheme. In the picture below you can see the Theme Colors we are currently using for this presentation.

Example of the theme colors we are currently using with this presentation

Each PowerPoint theme comes with its own color palette. By default, the Office theme includes the Office color palette. This affects the colors you are presented with when you format any element within your presentation (text, shapes, SmartArt, etc.).

To change the theme color for your presentation, select the Design tab, open the Colors options and choose the colors you want to use

The good news is that the colors here are easy to change. To switch color palettes, simply:

  • Go to the  Design tab in the Ribbon
  • In the Variants area, click on the  dropdown arrow  and select  Colors
  • Select  the color palette (or theme colors) you want

You can choose among the pre-built color palettes from Office, or you can customize them to create your own.

As you build your presentation, make sure you use the colors from your theme to format objects. That way, changing the color palette adjusts all the colors in your presentation automatically.

E. How to change your fonts in PowerPoint

Just as we changed the color palette, you can do the same for the fonts.

Example of custom theme fonts that might come with a powerpoint template

Each PowerPoint theme comes with its own font combination. By default, the Office theme includes the Office font pairing. This affects the fonts that are automatically assigned to all text in your presentation.

To change the default fonts for your presentation, from the design tab, find the fonts dropdown and select the pair of fonts you want to use

The good news is that the font pairings are easy to change. To switch your Theme Fonts, simply:

  • Go to the  Design tab  in the Ribbon
  • Click on the  dropdown arrow  in the  Variants  area
  • Select  Fonts
  • Select  the font pairing you want

You can choose among the pre-built fonts from Office, or you can customize them to create your own.

If you are working with PowerPoint presentations on both Mac and PC computers, make sure you choose a safe PowerPoint font. To see a list of the safest PowerPoint fonts, read our guide here .

If you receive a PowerPoint presentation and the wrong fonts were used, you can use the Replace Fonts dialog box to change the fonts across your entire presentation. For details, read our guide here .

Adding Animations & Transitions (optional)

The final step to make a PowerPoint presentation compelling, is to consider using animations and transitions. These are by no means necessary to a good presentation, but they may be helpful in your situation.

A. Adding PowerPoint animations

PowerPoint has an incredibly robust animations engine designed to power your creativity. That being said, it’s also easy to get started with basic animations.

Animations are movements that you can apply to individual objects on your slide.

To add an animation to an object in PowerPoint, first select the object and then use the Animations tab to select an animation type

To add a PowerPoint animation to an element of your slide, simply:

  • Select the  element
  • Go to the  Animations tab in the Ribbon
  • Click on the  dropdown arrow  to view your options
  • Select the  animation  you want

You can add animations to multiple objects at one time by selecting them all first and then applying the animation.

B. How to preview a PowerPoint animation

There are three ways to preview a PowerPoint animation

There are three ways to preview a PowerPoint animation:

  • Click on the Preview button in the Animations tab
  • Click on the little star  next to the slide
  • Play the slide in Slide Show Mode

To learn other ways to run your slide show, see our guide on presenting a PowerPoint slide show with shortcuts .

To adjust the settings of your animations, explore the options in the  Effect Options ,  Advanced Animation  and the  Timing  areas of the  Animation tab .

The Animations tab allows you to adjust the effects and timings of your animations in PowerPoint

Note:  To see how to make objects appear and disappear in your slides by clicking a button,  read our guide here .

C. How to manage your animations in PowerPoint

You can see the animations applied to your objects by the little numbers in the upper right-hand corner of the objects

The best way to manage lots of animations on your slide is with the Animation Pane . To open it, simply:

  • Navigate to the  Animations tab
  • Select the  Animation Pane

Inside the Animation Pane, you’ll see all of the different animations that have been applied to objects on your slide, with their numbers marked as pictured above.

Note: To see examples of PowerPoint animations that can use in PowerPoint, see our list of PowerPoint animation tutorials here .

D. How to add transitions to your PowerPoint presentation

PowerPoint has an incredibly robust transition engine so that you can dictate how your slides change from one to the other. It is also extremely easy to add transitions to your slides.

In PowerPoint, transitions are the movements (or effects) you see as you move between two slides.

To add a transition to a slide, select the slide, navigate to the transitions tab in PowerPoint and select your transition

To add a transition to a PowerPoint slide, simply:

  • Select the  slide
  • Go to the  Transitions tab in the Ribbon
  • In the Transitions to This Slide area, click on the  dropdown arrow  to view your options
  • Select the  transition  you want

To adjust the settings of the transition, explore the options in the  Timing  area of the Transitions tab.

You can also add the same transition to multiple slides. To do that, select them in the  Slides Pane  and apply the transition.

E. How to preview a transition in PowerPoint

There are three ways to preview a transition in PowerPoint

There are three ways to preview your PowerPoint transitions (just like your animations):

  • Click on the Preview  button in the Transitions tab
  • Click on the little star  beneath the slide number in the thumbnail view

Note:  In 2016, PowerPoint added a cool new transition, called Morph. It operates a bit differently from other transitions. For a detailed tutorial on how to use the cool Morph transition,  see our step-by-step article here .

Save Your PowerPoint Presentation

After you’ve built your presentation and made all the adjustments to your slides, you’ll want to save your presentation. YOu can do this several different ways.

Click the file tab, select Save As, choose where you want to save your presentation and then click save

To save a PowerPoint presentation using your Ribbon, simply:

  • Navigate to the  File tab
  •  Select  Save As  on the left
  • Choose  where you want to save your presentation
  • Name  your presentation and/or adjust your file type settings
  • Click  Save

You can alternatively use the  Ctrl+S keyboard shortcut to save your presentation. I recommend using this shortcut frequently as you build your presentation to make sure you don’t lose any of your work.

The save shortcut is control plus s in PowerPoint

This is the standard way to save a presentation. However, there may be a situation where you want to save your presentation as a different file type.

To learn how to save your presentation as a PDF, see our guide on converting PowerPoint to a PDF .

How to save your PowerPoint presentation as a template

Once you’ve created a presentation that you like, you may want to turn it into a template. The easiest – but not technically correct – way, is to simply create a copy of your current presentation and then change the content.

But be careful! A PowerPoint template is a special type of document and it has its own parameters and behaviors.

If you’re interested in learning about how to create your own PowerPoint template from scratch, see our guide on how to create a PowerPoint template .

Printing Your PowerPoint Presentation

After finishing your PowerPoint presentation, you may want to print it out on paper. Printing your slides is relatively easy.

The print shortcut is control plus P in PowerPoint

To open the Print dialog box, you can either:

  • Hit Ctrl+P on your keyboard
  • Or go to the Ribbon and click on File and then Print

In the Print dialog box, make your selections for how you want to print your PowerPoint presentation, then click print

Inside the Print dialog box, you can choose from the various printing settings:

  • Printer: Select a printer to use (or print to PDF or OneNote)
  • Slides: Choose which slides you want to print
  • Layout: Determine how many slides you want per page (this is where you can print the notes, outline, and handouts)
  • Collated or uncollated (learn what collated printing means here )
  • Color: Choose to print in color, grayscale or black & white

There are many more options for printing your PowerPoint presentations. Here are links to more in-depth articles:

  • How to print multiple slides per page
  • How to print your speaker notes in PowerPoint
  • How to save PowerPoint as a picture presentation

So that’s how to create a PowerPoint presentation if you are brand new to it. We’ve also included a ton of links to helpful resources to boost your PowerPoint skills further.

When you are creating your presentation, it is critical to first focus on the content (what you are trying to say) before getting lost inserting and playing with elements. The clearer you are on what you want to present, the easier it will be to build it out in PowerPoint.

If you enjoyed this article, you can learn more about our PowerPoint training courses and other presentation resources by  visiting us here .

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Research-Based Presentation Design Guidelines

Effective multimedia design is based on what we know about cognitive psychology. If you use visual aids like PowerPoint in your course videos, read the tips below.

DeathByPowerPoint.png

This guide leverages relevant cognitive psychology research (discussed in our other article " Multimedia Learning Principles ") to provide specific, evidence-based recommendations for designing and delivering effective presentations. But your PowerPoint deck is only one part of your "educational performance," which, broadly speaking, is a fusion of pictures, text, and spoken words. To maximize learners' engagement, retention, and transfer of the material, all three elements must be strategically deployed.

This guide relies heavily on Richard Mayer's Multimedia Learning and Stephen Kosslyn's Clear and to the Point: 8 Psychological Principles for Compelling PowerPoint Presentations . Both authors apply similar foundations in cognitive psychology to generate best practices for designing effective multimedia learning materials.

We hope this guide will be particularly helpful to instructors creating lecture videos but should prove useful to those delivering synchronous or in-person presentations. 

The Short Version

Use images instead of text when possible., use high-resolution, royalty-free images., use no more than 4 bullets per slide., make objects appear only when mentioned., dim objects after they're discussed., draw attention to salient information., avoid using decorative images., when distributing, add alt text to images..

A slide with only an image labeled "do this"; a slide with images and text labeled "not this."

Based on his experiments investigating the efficacy of multimedia messages, Richard Mayer defines what he calls the Redundancy Principle: "People learn better from graphics and narration than from graphics, narration, and printed text" (118). Duplicative images and onscreen text lead to extraneous cognitive processing by learners both because they have more to look at onscreen and because they'll spend unconscious effort trying to compare what they're hearing and what they're seeing.

So what comes from Mayer appears to be a suggestion to use either an image OR words, but not both (though labels are fine if they're important). But we also know from neurological research that images and words end up getting encoded in different places in the brain, and that encoding imagery uses less cognitive effort than encoding words (Grady et al, 2706). (This is probably an evolutionary phenomenon, given the importance of retaining visual information in one's immediate environment.) So in some ways, research has proved that a picture really can be worth a thousand words.

What this boils down to is if you have an image that can represent your material, use that image exclusively on your slide and remove any text that might accompany it unless it's necessary for your students' understanding. It'll be "stickier" in the students' minds.

The bottom line: If an image can represent your slide content, use it exclusively on your slide without any onscreen text.

A slide with a vector graphic labeled "do this"; a slide with a pixellated picture on it labeled "not this."

When using images, try to find the highest resolution you can. "Resolution" refers to the number of pixels that comprise the image. The more pixels there are, the more quality - and the greater the file size.

You can always shrink an image without reducing its quality, but don't increase its size over 100% or the original. If you do, the quality of the image will visibly decrease as it pixelates, which can either make it more difficult to understand or even unconsciously communicate "low quality" to your viewers!

In addition, when recording videos you should be particularly careful about using copyrighted images in your visual aids. While most course materials aren't public, Fair Use doesn't provide instructors with blanket protection from infringement and it's possible your video could get out. Try to use royalty-free image sites (such as Pixabay) to find an image that could work for you. You could also leverage the surprisingly robust features of your presentation software to design your own images, even by piecing together shapes. (Note that all of the imagery in this article was created using royalty-free images and PowerPoint.)

If it's truly necessary to use a copyrighted image in your slide, you should attempt to contact the publisher to obtain the appropriate permissions. If you find images under a Creative Commons license, be sure to abide by the license and cite appropriately.

The bottom line : Use high-resolution images if possible, and don't enlarge them above 100% of their original size. Use royalty-free imagery, attribute appropriately, or create your own images if needed.

A slide with three single-line bullets with the label "do this" next to a slide with more than 6 bullets with the label "not this."

If you've ever suffered from "Death by PowerPoint," you've probably experienced slides crammed full of text: sub-sub-bullets, complete sentences, entire paragraphs, or worse. This is most often the result of instructors using visual presentations as memory aids rather than as instructional tools for learners. We've all heard about the value of taking a student-centered approach to pedagogy; presentation design can embody that methodology.

With respect to determining how much text is appropriate, there are several cognitive psychology principles at work. As we discussed in our Multimedia Learning Principles article, we have two channels for processing a multimedia message. When presented with a large amount of text, the visual channel is oversaturated, and learners' verbal channels struggle to attend effectively to your words as they try to read what's on screen. They also spend cognitive effort comparing the printed and spoken words.

Also in our article on Multimedia Learning Principles, we discussed what occurs during active processing as well as the various types of cognitive load that learners experience. Given that active learning first necessitates the selection of relevant information from an instructional message, providing succinct text will help reduce students' germane load since you're doing some of the selection work for them.

So now that we know why less text is important, is it possible to quantify a recommendation?

A variety of studies have shown that humans can reliably retain 4 concepts in working memory - the so-called "rule of four." The brain can "chunk" information to improve retention, however, so each of these 4 concepts can have up to 4 component pieces of information.

To see the rule of four and chunking principles in effect, check out the video below.

So - we can retain information better when there are four or fewer units, and using recognizable groupings of more than four units helps to improve retention. With all of this in mind, a good rule of thumb is to try to restrict yourself to four or fewer bullets per slide, with four or fewer units of information contained within each bullet.

One way to quantify these "units" of information is to count the number of verbs and nouns (Kosslyn, 77). For example, the phrase "Use four bullets per slide" has 3 units of information: "use," "bullets," and "slide."

Another way to think about this: just use less text in your slides. It may not always be possible, but can be an important goal for which to strive, especially if it helps you break your presentation into more slides. Ultimately, though, remember that your visual aid is intended for your students - not to help you remember what you need to discuss. If possible (or if necessary), use your presentation software's "notes" feature to make sure you don't forget to discuss anything.

Remember what we discussed earlier, though: images tend to be "stickier" than words in long-term memory. If you can find a meaningful image that can replace some or all of the text on your slide, use that instead (using labels as needed, of course).

The bottom line : Try to use four or fewer bullets on a slide, each with four or fewer concepts. Favor images over text whenever appropriate.

A slide with one bullet labeled "at slide start" and "do this"; a slide with 4 bullets on it labeled "at slide start" and "not this."

Mayer's multimedia messaging experiments led him to what he termed the Temporal Contiguity Principle: "Students learn better when corresponding words and pictures are presented simultaneously rather than successively" (153). Mayer discusses this principle largely in the context of whether to present narration after or during a corresponding animation. While common sense might suggest that encountering the information twice in succession (in two different forms) would lead to better transfer and retention, it was instead when the narration and animation were presented simultaneously.

Now, chances are that you're not planning on narrating over a series of silent animated movies as your presentation - but it's important to remember that presentation software is, in and of itself, a kind of animation tool. Moving to a new slide is essentially a simple animation.

But in the context of the Temporal Contiguity Principle, think about a learner arriving on a slide that already has all of its visual content present at the start. With so much information for your learners to look at, you risk cognitive overload as they read the entire slide - including all the parts that may not yet be relevant or comprehensible - while also trying to process your spoken words.

Building your bullets and images one at a time provides visual cues to your learners about where you are in the presentation and what's relevant to the current moment of knowledge construction. Making clear what specific visual elements are related to what's being discussed maximizes your learners' ability to integrate what they see and what they hear simultaneously.

So, add simple animations to your slides. Leverage build-ins or entrance effects to have objects appear on your slide only when you mention them - bullets, images, graphs, shapes - anything. Stick to subtle effects like fade-ins or even just appearing unless a particular animation offers additional impact to your message.

The bottom line : Make objects appear only when you discuss them.

A slide with three bullets at 75% transparency and one at 0% transparency labeled with "discussing last bullet" and "do this"; a slide with 4 bullets on at 0% opacity labeled "at slide start" and "not this."

As we discussed earlier, Mayer's Temporal Contiguity Principle implies that we should make information appear only when mentioned. Well, the converse is true as well: information that's already been discussed should be visually de-emphasized. In reinforcing where exactly you are within the visual information on your slide, you're reducing your learners' cognitive load by encouraging them to focus their efforts on a smaller set of visual information while also maintaining the conceptual connection with the previous information.

In his book providing detailed presentation design guidelines based on a similar set of cognitive psychology principles as Mayer, Stephen Kosslyn identifies seven high-level principles, one of which is the Principle of Salience: "Attention is drawn to large perceptible differences" (7). Given that our brains are wired to notice strong differences in contrast (such as this bold text ), de-emphasizing past information provides a cue to learners that you're moving on to other visual information on the slide and helps direct their attention appropriately.

You can de-emphasize objects onscreen by adding an "emphasis" (PowerPoint) or "action" (Keynote) animation to a bullet, such as reducing the opacity of the object to 25% (or increasing its transparency to 75%). Add the animation at the same time a new object appears.

The bottom line : Visually de-emphasize items that have already been discussed.

A slide with a graph with a textbox drawing attention to a dip in the graph, labeled "do this"; a slide with just the graph and labeled "not this."

The Signaling Principle indicates that "People learn better when cues that highlight the organization of the essential material are added" (Mayer, 108). These cues, Mayer writes, "are intended to guide learners' attention to essential material and to guide learners' organization of the essential material into a coherent structure" (117). Leveraging what we discussed in our article about multimedia learning , signaling can reduce extraneous load, foster germane load, and assist with the selection and organization of materials that must occur during active learning.

While these cues can be verbal (such as explicitly stating where you are in your presentation based on an outline you presented at the start) the visual cues within your presentation play an extremely strong role in facilitating your students' understanding. For example, if you present a complex graph, do something either when designing your presentation (e.g. add arrows, labels, zoom in, etc.) or during your presentation (e.g. use your mouse as a pointer) to draw your learners' attention to the most important or relevant pieces of information.

While making objects appear and dim at the appropriate times highlights salient information as well, for more complex images it's important to draw learners' attention to the most relevant parts. As is often the case in effective presentation design, this helps reduce learners' extraneous load when presented with a surfeit of visual information.

The bottom line : design your slides with arrows, circles, or other visual cues that draw viewers' attention to particularly important details. Failing that, leverage pointers or other indicators during your recording.

A slide with 3 text bullets describing AA accessibility guidelines labeled "do this" next to another slide with 3 bullets and a picture of an AA battery, labeled "not this."

Richard Mayer identifies three main categories of images that are helpful to learners: representational images, which portray an individual object; organizational images, which illustrate relationships between objects (or between parts of an object); and explanative images, which illustrate how a system works (236).

Decorative images, on the other hand, are "illustrations that are intended to interest the reader but that do not enhance the message of the passage" (Mayer, 236). They distract students from learning goals, add to their extraneous load, and squander their limited cognitive resources.

Now, on the surface, it may seem like adding some decorative imagery to your more text-heavy slides might be a good thing, to give them some visual interest and foster a little more engagement with your presentation. As Mayer points out, this is arousal theory: "the idea that students learn better when they are emotionally aroused by the material" (93). Unfortunately, decorative images end up becoming "seductive illustrations": images added solely to add some visual interest. Unfortunately research has confirmed that these details are retained better than the presentation's central points (Mayer, 97).

So, if an image - indeed, if any content - doesn't directly support the completion of your students' learning objectives, don't include it. While we do recommend using images instead of text when possible as well as using less text overall, don't include imagery for imagery's sake.

Remember - an effective multimedia message should be designed to create the conditions for maximal learning. Some of your slides may end up being less visually interesting, but especially when paired with our other tips, you'll be helping your learners spend their cognitive resources more effectively.

The bottom line : Don't add images that don't directly support your students' learning.

A representation of presentation software on one side with the "alt tag" field filled out, labeled "do this" next to another representation of the presentation software with the "alt tag" field empty, labeled "not this."

Given how deleterious decorative imagery can be to our cognitive resources, all the images you've included in your presentation should support your students' learning. If there are students who can't perceive that visual content, however, their learning is compromised compared to their classmates.

If you intend to distribute your presentation file digitally (for example, uploading it to your LMS for students to download), you should ensure that all the images included in the presentation have what's called "alt text": text-based metadata embedded into the image that displays onscreen when the image fails to load and that describes it for screen reader software. These image descriptions are essential in ensuring that your materials are accessible to learners with visual disabilities.

Adding alt text within many applications is often just a matter of right-clicking an image, clicking the appropriate menu option, and typing in a description. A good alt tag should be specific and concise. And while it should communicate the relevant part(s) of the image, it shouldn't require the learner to listen to a lengthy description.

The bottom line : Add alt tags to all images in presentations you intend to distribute digitally.

PowerPoint shouldn't be vilified or glorified. Presentation software is just a tool, and it could be used effectively or poorly to communicate a message. Kosslyn sums it up well in his book Clear and to the Point : "PowerPoint presentations can help people understand by making both memory and processing easier for them" (12).

It is true that presentations designed this way require more effort to produce. If you're struggling to devote the time needed in pre-production to make your slides more pedagogically effective, some low-hanging fruit you can bite off (so to speak) is to use tools during your presentation to draw your students' attention, such as turning your mouse cursor into a laser pointer. Let Kosslyn's principles of Salience and Discriminability remind you that "attention is drawn to large perceptible differences," and those differences "must differ by a large enough proportion or they will not be distinguished" (7-8).

It's important to note that if you abide by these research-based best practices, it's likely that your presentation won't work as effectively as a standalone artifact. It's not meant to. Your slide deck is part of a larger presentation that includes pictures, text, and spoken words, all employed strategically to maximize learning. If it's important that your presentation be legible on its own, consider developing an alternate version.

Fiorella, L., Stull, A. T., Kuhlmann, S., & Mayer, R. E. (2019). Instructor presence in video lectures: The role of dynamic drawings, eye contact, and instructor visibility. Journal of Educational Psychology , 111(7), 1162–1171. https://doi.org/10.1037/edu0000325

Grady, C. L., McIntosh, A. R., Rajah, M. N., & Craik, F. I. M. (1998). Neural correlates of the episodic encoding of pictures and words. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci . USA, 95, 2703–2708.

Kosslyn, S. (2007). Clear and to the point: 8 psychological principles for compelling PowerPoint presentations . New York: Oxford University Press.

Mayer, R. E. (2009). Multimedia learning (2nd ed.). Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

Interested in consulting with a member of the Multimedia Services team? Contact us at [email protected] .

guidelines in creating powerpoint presentation

  • Resources / Technology and Writing

Creating Effective PowerPoint® Presentations

by Purdue Global Academic Success Center and Writing Center · Published February 4, 2014 · Updated February 3, 2014

A Resource to Share with Students

By Chrissine Rios, Writing Tutor

Microsoft® PowerPoint® is a tool for creating dynamic oral presentations. This tutorial introduces the elements of a PowerPoint® presentation and helps you get started by illustrating the steps for creating slides and the features that make a presentation effective.

ELEMENTS OF A POWERPOINT® PRESENTATION

If you have been assigned a PowerPoint® in addition to an essay or instead of an essay, here are the key similarities and differences between these two forms:

Elements of a PPT vs an Essay

GETTING STARTED WITH SLIDES

Similar to drafting an essay, when creating a PowerPoint®, you need to define your topic and focus, determine your audience, and know your purpose–whether you are informing, educating, entertaining, or persuading.

Another essential step that takes as much time when creating a PowerPoint® as it does when writing an essay is to research your subject matter and prewrite your ideas.

A next step to fully prepare is to make an informal outline to organize your ideas and establish a clear beginning middle and end. With the groundwork complete and content prepared, you are ready to create Slide 1.

1.     New presentations begin with a title slide. Follow the directions given in the text placeholders beginning with “click to add title.”

2.      Then, in the next box, add your subtitle. You may also use this area to provide your name and the university name per APA guidelines or any other information required on your title slide.

3.      Since a PowerPoint® accompanies an oral presentation, you may want to add speaker notes in the notes pane to elaborate on the points on each slide.

Slide 1

Slide 1: Add title, subtitle, your name, your university name, and in the Notes pane, your speaker notes.

Slides 2, 3, 4…

1.    To insert another slide, right-click the thumbnail of the slide that you want the next slide to follow.

2.    On the drop-down menu, click “New Slide.”

3.    The new slide will open in a default layout. To use this layout, “click to add title,” and in the body placeholder, you can click to add text or select from the media options.

Slides 2, 3, 4...

4.    To use another layout, open the  Slide Layout  task pane and select the layout that best suits your content.

Slide Layout Task Pane

5.    Continue inserting slides using the same steps as above, or insert a “Duplicate Slide” and replace the text or image to  maintain c onsistent title placement and formatting.

APA Citation Tips:

  • Cite your research after the bullet point(s) that have the quoted, paraphrased, or summarized text.
  • You can insert text boxes as needed and position them on the slide to add citations to images or charts from your research. Refer to the Insert menu on the PowerPoint® toolbar to use this feature.

DESIGNING AN EFFECTIVE PRESENTATION

PowerPoint® presentations are meant to be seen more than read. Their impact depends on their visual appeal, so you will want to apply design features. For the design to be effective, consider the following:

1. Apply a theme . Themes are design templates that establish the background, bullets, charts, SmartArt, and text style, as well as the position of the content placeholders. Slide layout options also remain available, and you can resize and reposition any object on a slide (except the stylistic patterns built into the themes).

Apply a Theme

Apply a theme.

2.  Use a consistent background such as one design template throughout. Only use a different background in the presentation to bring attention to one slide. 

guidelines in creating powerpoint presentation

Use a consistent background, color scheme, and font.

3. Use a consistent color scheme throughout of no more than three colors (or one design theme).   When selecting colors, avoid h ard-to-read extremes such as black text on a white background, which is blinding, or white text on a black background, which is like reading the inside of a box. 

4. Use one type of transition  between slides for consistency. 

5. Use the same  font throughout such as Arial, Times, Verdana, or Calibri. Use font sizes large enough to view from anywhere in the room. Avoid using font smaller than 24. 

6. Use visuals such as charts, images, and clipart to illustrate your content. However, do not add clipart simply to make a slide fancier or more colorful. 

An Ineffective Slide Design

Cartoonish clipart is unprofessional and distracting. In this example it also crowds the text, which itself is too frilly, dense, slanted, and small to read.

All elements of the slide must work together to be effective and have the intended impact on the audience.

Effective Slide Design

APA Citation 

When using Microsoft ® PowerPoint ® clipart in your Microsoft ® PowerPoint ® presentation, you do not have to cite it according to APA.  If you use clipart or images from an on-line source, however, you will want to attribute the art to its source with a citation. In APA format, this citation format is the following: 

In-text, aligned with image: (Name of image creator, Year image was made)

Reference slide: Name of image creator, A. A. (Year image was made). Title of image. . Retrieved from http://…

Want to Learn More About PowerPoint? The Microsoft ® PowerPoint ® website has many tutorials to choose from: http://bit.ly/1cZWSY0

Download this tutorial as a pdf :  http://bit.ly/1dZirfZ

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Thanks for sharing this information! This is a terrific resource for my students in completing one of their course assignments. I’m definitely going to share! 🙂

Thank you, Terresa. We are so glad the blog helped. Chrissine always makes fabulous resources, and we will try to post more of them.

Thanks for your comment!

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What It Takes to Give a Great Presentation

  • Carmine Gallo

guidelines in creating powerpoint presentation

Five tips to set yourself apart.

Never underestimate the power of great communication. It can help you land the job of your dreams, attract investors to back your idea, or elevate your stature within your organization. But while there are plenty of good speakers in the world, you can set yourself apart out by being the person who can deliver something great over and over. Here are a few tips for business professionals who want to move from being good speakers to great ones: be concise (the fewer words, the better); never use bullet points (photos and images paired together are more memorable); don’t underestimate the power of your voice (raise and lower it for emphasis); give your audience something extra (unexpected moments will grab their attention); rehearse (the best speakers are the best because they practice — a lot).

I was sitting across the table from a Silicon Valley CEO who had pioneered a technology that touches many of our lives — the flash memory that stores data on smartphones, digital cameras, and computers. He was a frequent guest on CNBC and had been delivering business presentations for at least 20 years before we met. And yet, the CEO wanted to sharpen his public speaking skills.

guidelines in creating powerpoint presentation

  • Carmine Gallo is a Harvard University instructor, keynote speaker, and author of 10 books translated into 40 languages. Gallo is the author of The Bezos Blueprint: Communication Secrets of the World’s Greatest Salesman  (St. Martin’s Press).

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guidelines in creating powerpoint presentation

6 Tips for Creating An Effective PowerPoint Presentation

by ELB Guest Author | Jul 6, 2017

6 Tips for Creating An Effective PowerPoint Presentation

The saying that all PowerPoint developers should keep in mind is, “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.” Almost all software development tools give you amazing features that allow you to create awesome content. But a presentation full of awesome features, animations, colors, and fonts doesn’t always make a good presentation. Here are 6 simple things that will improve your presentation and benefit your audience.

1. Font Size and Type:

When presenting keep in mind that your audience is a lot further away from the screen than you were while you were creating the presentation. So to make sure your audience can comprehend what is being presented, never insert text into your presentation that is smaller than 24pt.

Not only does font size help with comprehension, but font type plays a huge factor as well. As a general rule, never use any fonts with serifs (the fancy projection finishing off a stroke of a letter) or any fonts that resemble papyrus (I’m looking at you, high school kids). While these types of fonts may look great close up on a computer screen 17 inches from your face, the same clarity and understanding doesn’t translate when you are 15-20 feet away. And to help create a sense of unity within the presentation, never use more than two font types: one for titles and headers, and the other for body text.

guidelines in creating powerpoint presentation

A procedure that may seem mundane and worthless like labeling all your graphs, tables, charts, and etc. makes a huge difference when presenting to an audience. Again, they don’t know the content as well as you do and you have to walk your audience by hand through the information. This is especially important when it has to do with the type of content that is generally presented in tables and charts (lots and lots of numbers).

3. Consistent Backgrounds:

When it comes to backgrounds, there is definitely a method to the madness. Good presentations ameliorate content with backgrounds that don’t detract from the flow of the presentation. And good presenters will interchange between one or two different backgrounds depending on the information shown on screen. If this is done consistently, you will almost always know what kind of information is being displayed because the presenter defined it through the correlation of the content and the background.

4. Contrast:

This tip goes hand in hand with tip #1 and #3. If you are set on using certain font types and colors in your presentation, make sure that your content is always easy to read after the background images are applied. Always go back through your presentation and locate the trouble spots and mask your text with a darker (or lighter) shape. This will allow you to keep your background selection and create a presentation that is easy to read and digest.

5. High Quality Images:

7 words: Absolutely use nothing that resembles clip art. This will be easier to do now that PowerPoint has drifted away from using it. I don’t know how hard I need to try and convince you not to use it, but in case you do like using it, here is a bulleted list of why you should never use clip art in a presentation ever again.

  • Not professional
  • You can do so much better
  • Audience won’t take you seriously

Presenting and presentation is headed to a more simplistic and modern approach to design. Clip art is stepping back into the 90’s. You can tell better stories and give better examples by using high quality images. And if royalties and licensing scares you, go to eLearning Brothers and use some of our 2 million royalty free assets! It pays to to look for the perfect image.

6. Duplicate Final Slide:

While perusing the internet this last week I found a rather peculiar tip, it was to duplicate your final slide in its final state (meaning what it would look like without any animations or transitions) so that you never accidentally double click and skip to the black screen of death before it is time. This is such a simple tip that creates a huge safeguard when presenting at prestigious conferences or in front of your CEO.

Whether or not you deliver an effective presentation is decided long before you stand in front of an audience. It is decided during the production of your presentation. So take the time and give the time an awesome presentation deserves. Do you have any tips for creating an awesome presentation that you would like to share? Comment below!

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How-To Geek

6 ways to create more interactive powerpoint presentations.

Engage your audience with cool, actionable features.

Quick Links

  • Add a QR code
  • Embed Microsoft Forms (Education or Business Only)
  • Embed a Live Web Page
  • Add Links and Menus
  • Add Clickable Images to Give More Info
  • Add a Countdown Timer

We've all been to a presentation where the speaker bores you to death with a mundane PowerPoint presentation. Actually, the speaker could have kept you much more engaged by adding some interactive features to their slideshow. Let's look into some of these options.

1. Add a QR code

Adding a QR code can be particularly useful if you want to direct your audience to an online form, website, or video.

Some websites have in-built ways to create a QR code. For example, on Microsoft Forms , when you click "Collect Responses," you'll see the QR code option via the icon highlighted in the screenshot below. You can either right-click the QR code to copy and paste it into your presentation, or click "Download" to add it to your device gallery to insert the QR code as a picture.

In fact, you can easily add a QR code to take your viewer to any website. On Microsoft Edge, right-click anywhere on a web page where there isn't already a link, and left-click "Create QR Code For This Page."

You can also create QR codes in other browsers, such as Chrome.

You can then copy or download the QR code to use wherever you like in your presentation.

2. Embed Microsoft Forms (Education or Business Only)

If you plan to send your PPT presentation to others—for example, if you're a trainer sending step-by-step instruction presentation, a teacher sending an independent learning task to your students, or a campaigner for your local councilor sending a persuasive PPT to constituents—you might want to embed a quiz, questionnaire, pole, or feedback survey in your presentation.

In PowerPoint, open the "Insert" tab on the ribbon, and in the Forms group, click "Forms". If you cannot see this option, you can add new buttons to the ribbon .

As at April 2024, this feature is only available for those using their work or school account. We're using a Microsoft 365 Personal account in the screenshot below, which is why the Forms icon is grayed out.

Then, a sidebar will appear on the right-hand side of your screen, where you can either choose a form you have already created or opt to craft a new form.

Now, you can share your PPT presentation with others , who can click the fields and submit their responses when they view the presentation.

3. Embed a Live Web Page

You could always screenshot a web page and paste that into your PPT, but that's not a very interactive addition to your presentation. Instead, you can embed a live web page into your PPT so that people with access to your presentation can interact actively with its contents.

To do this, we will need to add an add-in to our PPT account .

Add-ins are not always reliable or secure. Before installing an add-in to your Microsoft account, check that the author is a reputable company, and type the add-in's name into a search engine to read reviews and other users' experiences.

To embed a web page, add the Web Viewer add-in ( this is an add-in created by Microsoft ).

Go to the relevant slide and open the Web Viewer add-in. Then, copy and paste the secure URL into the field box, and remove https:// from the start of the address. In our example, we will add a selector wheel to our slide. Click "Preview" to see a sample of the web page's appearance in your presentation.

This is how ours will look.

When you or someone with access to your presentation views the slideshow, this web page will be live and interactive.

4. Add Links and Menus

As well as moving from one slide to the next through a keyboard action or mouse click, you can create links within your presentation to direct the audience to specific locations.

To create a link, right-click the outline of the clickable object, and click "Link."

In the Insert Hyperlink dialog box, click "Place In This Document," choose the landing destination, and click "OK."

What's more, to make it clear that an object is clickable, you can use action buttons. Open the "Insert" tab on the ribbon, click "Shape," and then choose an appropriate action button. Usefully, PPT will automatically prompt you to add a link to these shapes.

You might also want a menu that displays on every slide. Once you have created the menu, add the links using the method outlined above. Then, select all the items, press Ctrl+C (copy), and then use Ctrl+V to paste them in your other slides.

5. Add Clickable Images to Give More Info

Through PowerPoint's animations, you can give your viewer the power to choose what they see and when they see it. This works nicely whether you're planning to send your presentation to others to run through independently or whether you're presenting in front of a group and want your audience to decide which action they want to take.

Start by creating the objects that will be clickable (trigger) and the items that will appear (pop-up).

Then, select all the pop-ups together. When you click "Animations" on the ribbon and choose an appropriate animation for the effect you want to achieve, this will be applied to all objects you have selected.

The next step is to rename the triggers in your presentation. To do this, open the "Home" tab, and in the Editing group, click "Select", and then "Selection Pane."

With the Selection Pane open, select each trigger on your slide individually, and rename them in the Selection Pane, so that they can be easily linked to in the next step.

Finally, go back to the first pop-up. Open the "Animations" tab, and in the Advanced Animation group, click the "Trigger" drop-down arrow. Then, you can set the item to appear when a trigger is clicked in your presentation.

If you want your item to disappear when the trigger is clicked again, select the pop-up, click "Add Animation" in the Advanced Animation group, choose an Exit animation, and follow the same step to link that animation to the trigger button.

6. Add a Countdown Timer

A great way to get your audience to engage with your PPT presentation is to keep them on edge by adding a countdown timer. Whether you're leading a presentation and want to let your audience stop to discuss a topic, or running an online quiz with time-limit questions, having a countdown timer means your audience will keep their eye on your slide throughout.

To do this, you need to animate text boxes or shapes containing your countdown numbers. Choose and format a shape and type the highest number that your countdown clock will need. In our case, we're creating a 10-second timer.

Now, with your shape selected, open the "Animations" tab on the ribbon and click the animation drop-down arrow. Then, in the Exit menu, click "Disappear."

Open the Animation Pane, and click the drop-down arrow next to the animation you've just added. From there, choose "Timing."

Make sure "On Click" is selected in the Start menu, and change the Delay option to "1 second," before clicking "OK."

Then, with this shape still selected, press Ctrl+C (copy), and then Ctrl+V (paste). In the second box, type 9 . With the Animation Pane still open and this second shape selected, click the drop-down arrow and choose "Timing" again. Change the Start option to "After Previous," and make sure the Delay option is 1 second. Then, click "OK."

We can now use this second shape as our template, as when we copy and paste it again, the animations will also duplicate. With this second shape selected, press Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V, type 8 into the box, and continue to do the same until you get to 0 .

Next, remove the animations from the "0" box, as you don't want this to disappear. To do this, click the shape, and in the Animation Pane drop-down, click "Remove."

You now need to layer them in order. Right-click the box containing number 1, and click "Bring To Front." You will now see that box on the top. Do the same with the other numbers in ascending order.

Finally, you need to align the objects together. Click anywhere on your slide and press Ctrl+A. Then, in the Home tab on the ribbon, click "Arrange." First click "Align Center," and then bring the menu up again, so that you can click "Align Middle."

Press Ctrl+A again to select your timer, and you can then move your timer or copy and paste it elsewhere.

Press F5 to see the presentation in action, and when you get to the slide containing the timer, click anywhere on the slide to see your countdown timer in action!

Now that your PPT presentation is more interactive, make sure you've avoided these eight common presentational mistakes before you present your slides.

guidelines in creating powerpoint presentation

How To Get Free Access To Microsoft PowerPoint

E very time you need to present an overview of a plan or a report to a whole room of people, chances are you turn to Microsoft PowerPoint. And who doesn't? It's popular for its wide array of features that make creating effective presentations a walk in the park. PowerPoint comes with a host of keyboard shortcuts for easy navigation, subtitles and video recordings for your audience's benefit, and a variety of transitions, animations, and designs for better engagement.

But with these nifty features comes a hefty price tag. At the moment, the personal plan — which includes other Office apps — is at $69.99 a year. This might be the most budget-friendly option, especially if you plan to use the other Microsoft Office apps, too. Unfortunately, you can't buy PowerPoint alone, but there are a few workarounds you can use to get access to PowerPoint at no cost to you at all.

Read more: The 20 Best Mac Apps That Will Improve Your Apple Experience

Method #1: Sign Up For A Free Microsoft Account On The Office Website

Microsoft offers a web-based version of PowerPoint completely free of charge to all users. Here's how you can access it:

  • Visit the Microsoft 365 page .
  • If you already have a free account with Microsoft, click Sign in. Otherwise, press "Sign up for the free version of Microsoft 365" to create a new account at no cost.
  • On the Office home page, select PowerPoint from the side panel on the left.
  • Click on "Blank presentation" to create your presentation from scratch, or pick your preferred free PowerPoint template from the options at the top (there's also a host of editable templates you can find on the Microsoft 365 Create site ).
  • Create your presentation as normal. Your edits will be saved automatically to your Microsoft OneDrive as long as you're connected to the internet.

It's important to keep in mind, though, that while you're free to use this web version of PowerPoint to create your slides and edit templates, there are certain features it doesn't have that you can find on the paid version. For instance, you can access only a handful of font styles and stock elements like images, videos, icons, and stickers. Designer is also available for use on up to three presentations per month only (it's unlimited for premium subscribers). When presenting, you won't find the Present Live and Always Use Subtitles options present in the paid plans. The biggest caveat of the free version is that it won't get any newly released features, unlike its premium counterparts.

Method #2: Install Microsoft 365 (Office) To Your Windows

Don't fancy working on your presentation in a browser? If you have a Windows computer with the Office 365 apps pre-installed or downloaded from a previous Office 365 trial, you can use the Microsoft 365 (Office) app instead. Unlike the individual Microsoft apps that you need to buy from the Microsoft Store, this one is free to download and use. Here's how to get free PowerPoint on the Microsoft 365 (Office) app:

  • Search for Microsoft 365 (Office) on the Microsoft Store app.
  • Install and open it.
  • Sign in with your Microsoft account. Alternatively, press "Create free account" if you don't have one yet.
  • Click on Create on the left side panel.
  • Select Presentation.
  • In the PowerPoint window that opens, log in using your account.
  • Press Accept on the "Free 5-day pass" section. This lets you use PowerPoint (and Word and Excel) for five days — free of charge and without having to input any payment information.
  • Create your presentation as usual. As you're using the desktop version, you can access the full features of PowerPoint, including the ability to present in Teams, export the presentation as a video file, translate the slides' content to a different language, and even work offline.

The only downside of this method is the time limit. Once the five days are up, you can no longer open the PowerPoint desktop app. However, all your files will still be accessible to you. If you saved them to OneDrive, you can continue editing them on the web app. If you saved them to your computer, you can upload them to OneDrive and edit them from there.

Method #3: Download The Microsoft PowerPoint App On Your Android Or iOS Device

If you're always on the move and need the flexibility of creating and editing presentations on your Android or iOS device, you'll be glad to know that PowerPoint is free and available for offline use on your mobile phones. But — of course, there's a but — you can only access the free version if your device is under 10.1 inches. Anything bigger than that requires a premium subscription. If your phone fits the bill, then follow these steps to get free PowerPoint on your device:

  • Install Microsoft PowerPoint from the App Store or Google Play Store .
  • Log in using your existing Microsoft email or enter a new email address to create one if you don't already have an account.
  • On the "Get Microsoft 365 Personal Plan" screen, press Skip For Now.
  • If you're offered a free trial, select Try later (or enjoy the free 30-day trial if you're interested).
  • To make a new presentation, tap the plus sign in the upper right corner.
  • Change the "Create in" option from OneDrive - Personal to a folder on your device. This allows you to save the presentation to your local storage and make offline edits.
  • Press "Set as default" to set your local folder as the default file storage location.
  • Choose your template from the selection or use a blank presentation.
  • Edit your presentation as needed.

Do note that PowerPoint mobile comes with some restrictions. There's no option to insert stock elements, change the slide size to a custom size, use the Designer feature, or display the presentation in Immersive Reader mode. However, you can use font styles considered premium on the web app.

Method #4: Use Your School Email Address

Office 365 Education is free for students and teachers, provided they have an email address from an eligible school. To check for your eligibility, here's what you need to do:

  • Go to the Office 365 Education page .
  • Type in your school email address in the empty text field.
  • Press "Get Started."
  • On the next screen, verify your eligibility. If you're eligible, you'll be asked to select whether you're a student or a teacher. If your school isn't recognized, however, you'll get a message telling you so.
  • For those who are eligible, proceed with creating your Office 365 Education account. Make sure your school email can receive external mail, as Microsoft will send you a verification code for your account.
  • Once you're done filling out the form, press "Start." This will open your Office 365 account page.

You can then start making your PowerPoint presentation using the web app. If your school's plan supports it, you can also install the Office 365 apps to your computer by clicking the "Install Office" button on your Office 365 account page and running the downloaded installation file. What sets the Office 365 Education account apart from the regular free account is that you have unlimited personal cloud storage and access to other Office apps like Word, Excel, and Outlook.

Read the original article on SlashGear .

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