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Microsoft PowerPoint Basics : Research Guides | UTC Library


Starting out:

Opening a PowerPoint presentation takes you to the Backstage section. Here, you can open recently saved presentations, create a new presentation, or use a template and work from there. Clicking on the search bar under the New tab allows you to make a search for any template you may need.

Once you open or create a presentation to work on, you're automatically taken to the Home ribbon. The tabs near the top of the screen are called ribbons and each holds specific tools to help you edit and format your document.

The Quick Access Toolbar is at the top left corner. From there you can save, undo, and redo. With the dropdown bar you can customize the section to add or remove buttons.

If you ever get lost or don't know how to find a certain tool, use the search bar at the top. It may also have "Tell me what you want to do..." listed in the search bar's place depending on what version of Excel you are using. It can find tools to use directly from the search bar.

Your first slide:

By default, the first slide in a new presentation will have text sections for a title and subtitle.

The text appearance can be changed in the font section. There, you will be able to adjust text size and font type. Extra features in this group includes text effects such as glow, shadow, outline, and reflection.



More slides:

If you need to add a new slide, there are multiple ways to do this.

  • Right clicking then selecting New Slide.
  • Pressing CTRL + M.
  • New Slide button in the Home ribbon or Insert ribbon.

New slides will be positioned after the current slide that is selected. To reorder slides, click and drag the slide's thumbnail, located on the left, to a new location within the thumbnail section.

The Layout feature allows you to change up how the content is displayed. This is similar to the dropdown option from the New Slide icon, but this makes changes to an already existing slide.

The final tool within the Slides box is Section. Sections are used more for yourself than as a presentation feature. It helps with keeping your slides organized and saved into groups that are easier to move around.

Fonts & Text

You're able to edit your font and colors inside of the Font tool. This allows you to format content inside of a text box. The formatting applied to your text can be copied and pasted on new text to keep everything consistent.

Anything copied will be placed in the Clipboard. Also, using the Format Painter only copies and pastes formatting done within your copied selection.

Alignment & Spacing

The Alignment tools allow text in the document to change its alignment from left, center, or right. There is also an option that aligns text at the top, middle, or bottom of a cell.

In this group, you can also adjust the orientation such as diagonal or vertical text alignment. Indentation to the left or right is also available.

When typing in a cell and there's content already in the space next to it, it can be hidden from view. Wrap Text allows you to show text inside the cell as it fits the space around it and creates additional lines, making it easier to read.

Merge & Center combines selected cells inside your sheet and aligns text to the middle. It works with labeling over cells that span multiple columns or rows. The dropdown arrow for this feature gives you more options to work with and can also unmerge cells.

The Number group gives you formatting options on how you want cells to interact regarding numbers with dates, currency, percentages, etc.


Find & Replace

If you need help with locating words in your presentation, look for Find inside the Editing group.

When the Find tool is selected, it opens a new dialog box. You can type the word(s) you're looking for in the search bar. Replace lets you swap out words instantly in your presentation. It will use the word in the Find section and swap it with what you type in Replace. The second option for Replace gives you the option of changing font types.


To add an image, select Pictures. You will be able to open your image from a file and include it to your presentation. Online Pictures pulls up an image search and OneDrive browser if you do not have an image saved to your device.

When an image is in a slide, it creates a new format ribbon. This lets you make unique edits to the pictures, add effects, change how text interacts with it, and many other features.


Columns, lines, pies, bars, and a combination are some of the options. The Insert ribbon has a section for placing Charts into your presentation.

There is a wide variety of different charts you can use for your needs. It even has a Recommended Charts option. When a type of chart is selected, a dropdown appears with additional options. For example, clicking on column charts will let you preview the types of column charts: clustered, stacked, and 3D variations. Similar options are available for other chart versions as well.


Creating a Table can help you stay organized. There are a few different ways to insert tables into your presentation. Clicking on the dropdown will show a box grid you can edit for your custom table.

Directly below that is the Insert Table button. This lets you type in how many rows and columns you want in your table. If you enjoy drawing, there's a Draw Table option for you. If you are familiar with Excel, inserting a spreadsheet is another option

After creating your table, a new Design ribbon will appear if you would like to continue editing your table.


Text & Media

The Text group has a few options for including other types of objects into your slides. Text Box is the most common. It lets you draw out a box and place it in a slide. After it has been created, you are able to type within its dimensions.

To the far right is the media section. It includes Video, Audio, and Screen Recording content to be added to your presentation.


Themes can change formatting for specific colors, fonts, and effects to edit your worksheet. The dropdown shows many different options to choose from. You can preview themes by hovering over a specific type. Once you find one you prefer, click on it and the theme will be applied to your entire presentation.

If you want to continue customizing your slides, beside themes are Variants. Each variant offers more style and color options.


Sizing & Display

You can customize your slides through Slide Size and Format Background.

Slide Size offers a couple options, such as standard or widescreen, but you can do specific sizes under Custom Slide Size.

Format Background allows the inclusion of solid, pattern, gradient, picture, or texture fills. If you currently have a theme background, you have the option to toggle it off to view your custom background edits.


These are short animation sequences that move from your current slide to the next slide. The Transition ribbon offers several different variations on what animation to use for getting to the next slide.

You can add sounds to your transitions, too. Once you have what you need applied to your slide, view your changes through the Preview button at the top left.


When you have text, images, or objects selected inside of a slide, you are given the option to add animations to them. This is shown under the Animation ribbon and is displayed in a similar fashion as Transitions.

Remember to apply the animations in order of when you want them to occur. A number will appear beside the object it is applied to.


Advanced Editing Options

If you need more editing capabilities, click on the lower right corner of the Clipboard, Font, Alignment, or Number groups and a new dialog box will appear. This allows more formatting options and tabs are available to quickly swap to different features.

Auto Save Settings

Need auto-save to happen more often in case of recovering a crashed presentation? Go to File and select Options. A new dialog box will appear. Select the Save tab on the left. Make sure the checkbox is marked for the Save Auto-Recover information section and you can edit how frequently it will auto-save.

Find, Replace, & More

The Find tool offers a dropdown with many options. Initially, if you simply need to find something you can type what you need in the search bar.

In the Find and Replace window, you can refine your search by using the Options button. Using the Replace tab, you can find a word then replace it with a new word you type in.

How to Save

There are multiple ways to save. You can click on the Save icon at the top left corner within the Quick Access Toolbar. Another way is to click on the File ribbon and select either Save or Save As located on the left side of the menu. Saving a presentation will save over your currently opened file while using Save As will allow you to create a new save.

If it is your first time saving the presentation, a new window will appear and you will be able to select where you want your file to be saved, create a file name, and what file type you will save it as.

Microsoft Office for Students

Most colleges will require students to use the Microsoft Office Suite for assignments and using other software may mess up the format when converting.

A subscription to Office 365 is free for current students on up to five devices. If you are interested, here is the link:

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