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PowerPoint Design: 6 Insider Tricks You’ll Love

PowerPoint Design: 6 Insider Tricks You’ll Love

You might not realize it, but there are tons of hidden tools in PowerPoint that can come in handy when you’re designing a deck. Some are incredibly useful tips that you will want to use all the time, and some are niche and specialized for certain tasks. 

Here are our favorite tricks for saving time and adding polish to any presentation. Even if you aren’t a professional presentation designer, these tips will help you get more done in less time, with better results!

1. Import images as SVGs, not JPGs or PNGs.

If you import icons or graphics into PowerPoint as JPGs or PNGs, you’re creating two limitations for yourself: One, you won’t be able to enlarge an image or change its weight/thickness without compromising its quality. Two, you won’t be able to change the color of an image.

Thanks to a 2016 update, PowerPoint allows SVG images to be added and edited after they’re in a deck. This is a game changer for adding brand elements to a presentation. There are a few options for adjusting icons directly on your slides:

Import images as SVGs

2. Use guides to line up items.

When you need to align items on a slide, there’s no need to eyeball it. PowerPoint has two tools—Guides and Gridlines—that can line up objects perfectly. To add horizontal and vertical center lines to your deck, go to View > Guides. To add more guiding lines, go to View > Gridlines.

3. Align objects on a slide.

If you’re not a fan of Guides or Gridlines, you can also use the Align tool to line up objects on slides. To do this, hold down the Shift button and click all of the objects you want to align. Next, click Format > Align and select your preference for horizontal and vertical alignment.

Align objects on a slide

4. Add a transition between slides.

Adding a transition between slides is a simple way to make your entire presentation look and feel more professional. There are tons of transition options in PowerPoint, but we tend to use the “Fade” option most often because it has a smooth, subtle effect. That said, certain brands or audiences may call for a transition that feels more boisterous. For example, the “Wipe” transition could work well in a deck for a car wash company, and “Page Curl” might be nice for a presentation that features a book publisher.

Pro tip: To add transitions to every slide in a deck, select a slide in the left-hand pane and hit Command + A (on a Mac) or CTRL + A (on a PC) to select all slides in the deck. Choose the transition you want and set the Effect Options to “Smoothly.”

5. Keep animations simple.

To make your presentation feel professional, keep your animations simple. We tend to avoid the animations listed under the “Exciting” category (such as Boomerang, Bounce, Pinwheel and Spiral In) and opt for simpler options, like Fade or Wipe. Like transitions, this rule can be broken depending on your presentation’s content and audience.

6. Use gifs wisely.

To add some interesting movement to your slides, use cinemographs—that is, high quality, animated gifs—as slide backgrounds. It’s easy to find these; use the keyword “cinemographs” in your search engine to get a range of options. Once you’ve found the right gif, save it to your computer and select Insert > Picture to add it to your deck, much like you would with a regular image. Not only will this simplify your workflow, but it will make your file size much smaller than if you were to use video.

Use gifs wisely

Have another trick you’d like to share? We’d love to hear about it.

7. Swap bullets for shapes

Bullet points are useful, but they can be so overused that they drag down the overall look of your presentation. To make them “pop” a bit more, you can swap out traditional bullet points for nearly any of the shapes in PowerPoint’s built-in library, including arrows, circles, donuts, lozenges, and more!

Here’s why each works and when to use them:

Arrows are simple to follow and offer lots of visual information without adding any extra text. This is great for highlighting key points on crowded slides, or indicating hierarchy and order on a slide.

Circles, semicircles and ellipses can act as bullets or as containers to separate content (instead of bulleted lists).

Donuts are a common type of graph, but they can also be used as a shape. This is useful when the items in your list form a whole, or are part of a continuous process.

Lozenges excel at highlighting a specific piece of text. Try using them on your main takeaway after your bulleted lists.

8. Embed custom fonts

If your brand uses a custom font, which basically means anything that’s not a standard system font, you probably know the problems this can cause. If you are sharing your presentation with another person to collaborate on, or sending it to another computer to run the presentation, and those folks don’t have your custom font installed, the results will be unsightly.

Luckily, there’s a simple fix to this problem: embedding your custom font directly into your presentation! We’ve got a full article on how to do this, but here’s the quick fix if you don’t have time for the rest of the explanation:

How to embed fonts in PowerPoint for Mac

  1. Open the file you want to embed fonts in.

  2. Select Preferences in the application menu.

  3. When you see Output and Sharing, select Save.

  4. Under Font Embedding, select Embed fonts in the file.

How to embed fonts in PowerPoint for PC

  1. Open your file, then click File > Options (it's near the bottom left corner of the window).

  2. In the left column, select Save.

  3. At the bottom, under Preserve fidelity when sharing this presentation, select the Embed fonts in the file check box.

  4. Click OK.

Have another trick you’d like to share? We’d love to hear about it.

Update (02/24): we’ve revised this article to add some new PowerPoint pro tips to help you polish your presentations. Yes, we know it’s 8 items. Consider it a VerdanaBonus!

Looking for more information about presentation visuals and beyond? Check out our resources for expert advice and tested strategies.

About the author

Danielle John is the founder of VerdanaBold. She has more than 25 years as an award-winning designer and creative lead, directing the visual expression and production of thousands of high-value new business pitches, C-level presentations and internal presentations for major global brands. When she’s not busy at VerdanaBold, she can be found antique shopping and spending time with her husband and two kids.



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