Tips and Tricks for using Microsoft PowerPoint for Windows

Microsoft PowerPoint is a slideshow presentation application that enables you to create professional presentations that employ a variety of static and animated audiovisual elements, including text, images, music, and video. PowerPoint also offers an extensive suite of features that can be used to streamline and enliven the processes of creating and delivering presentations, including dynamic themes, custom animations, and interactive transitions. With its versatile toolkit and depth of features, PowerPoint is an exceptionally useful for academic purposes. The list of tips and tricks below provides solutions to common formatting and presentation creation challenges that you may encounter when using PowerPoint.

In This Article

Apply a Theme

PowerPoint allows you to add professional-quality design to slideshow presentations through its Theme feature. Themes are design templates for presentations that include unique color, font, and effect elements. These templates bring a distinct sense of style and feeling to a presentation—whether it be strictly professional, casually humorous, or season specific—and they can be particularly useful in orienting an audience to the tone of a presentation. In addition to establishing the tone and feel of a presentation, applying a theme is a great way to streamline the creation of a presentation, as the preloaded elements of a theme allows for more focus on content creation than design.

Themes can be accessed from the Design tab of the PowerPoint Ribbon. For more information, see Microsoft Support Center.


PowerPoint Design tab


Add Content with a Text Box

PowerPoint slides are canvases. You can layer multiple elements on these canvases as you attempt to create the perfect presentation. One of the most common elements to add to a presentation is text. The simplest, most efficient way to add text to a slide is to use a Text Box. A Text Box is an adjustable frame that contains text. These boxes may be placed anywhere on a slide, and the height and length of the frame may be adjusted to accommodate enclosed text and surrounding elements. A text box can be created by clicking the Text Box icon in the Text section of the Insert tab in the PowerPoint Ribbon. Once the Text Box icon has been clicked the cursor will change into a cross. Click on the canvas space and drag the cross around the canvas to create a text box, which can then be moved anywhere on the canvas.

To learn how to add a text box to a PowerPoint slide, view the Add, copy, or delete a Text Box article in the Microsoft Support Center.

Text Box


Create a Slide Master

To ensure consistency between slides in long or complex presentations, it is often helpful to utilize a theme or template to govern the structure and design of all slides in the presentation. PowerPoint presents a valuable solution to this challenge in the form of a Slide Master. A Slide Master is the top slide within a hierarchy of slides. It stores information about theme and layout for a presentation so that those elements may be applied to other slides in the presentation. Slide masters are particularly beneficial because they enable you to make global changes to a presentation by altering one slide.

Once created, slide masters can be edited in Slide Master View. To create a slide master in Slide Master View, click the Slide Master icon in the Master View section of the View tab on the PowerPoint Ribbon and edit the blank slide as desired.

For more information, see Microsoft Support Center.

Slide master icon


Build Transitions Between Slides

PowerPoint allows you to create dynamic, engaging movement between slides with its Transitions feature. The Transitions feature provides an array of audiovisual features and timing properties that enable you to add dynamic audiovisual cues, such as fades and chimes, and precision timing to slide transitions. By modifying the transition properties of a presentation, you can tailor the pacing of a presentation to fit the needs of its delivery, a benefit that is especially useful for presenters who may be unable to manually transition, or click-through, slides. PowerPoint transitions not only eliminate the need for manual transitions, but they can also be used to create a slide transition and pacing structure for presentations that will be delivered without presenter management.

Transitions can be added or modified from the Transitions tab on the PowerPoint Ribbon.

For more information, see Microsoft Support Center.


Transitions tab


Take Notes on a presentation

PowerPoint offers the Notes feature for presenters who need to take notes before, during, or after delivering a presentation. Adding Notes can be especially useful to presenters who need to add information to a presentation that is not intended to be displayed on a slide.

Notes can be added, viewed, or modified from the Notes field. When viewing slides in Normal or Outline View, the Notes field can be found beneath the Slide frame on the right side of the PowerPoint window. Notes can be added and modified by clicking in the blank space of the field.

Notes field

You can also view, edit, and print notes from the Notes view. The Notes view can be accessed by clicking the Notes icon in the Presentation Views section of the View tab in the PowerPoint Ribbon.

Notes icon in View tab

To learn more about Notes in PowerPoint, view the following articles in the Microsoft Support Center:

Add speaker notes to your presentation
Create and print notes pages


Record narration and timing for a presentation

PowerPoint allows presenters to add narration to presentations as a way to create more engaging and interactive slideshows. Adding narration to a presentation can be useful when slideshows will be delivered without presenter management or as a pacing tool for presenters who wish to catch their breath. With the aid of a computer that is equipped with a microphone, presenters can record and store narration for presentation. Additionally, you can opt to only record narration or comments on select slides, as PowerPoint offers options for recording a presentation with or without full narration. 

Like narration, timing for a presentation can also be recorded. Timing in a presentation is most commonly demonstrated in slide transitions, but it can also be used to measure the delivery of narration as well as in-slide elements like animations or text reveals.

Narration and timing can be applied to a presentation by going to the Set Up section of the Slide Show tab on the PowerPoint Ribbon

To learn more about recording presentations, narration, and timing, see Microsoft Support Center.

Narrations and timing set up


Apply animation to text and objects

PowerPoint grants presenters the ability to apply a wide variety of animation effects to text and objects in a slide. Animation effects are a novel way of adding energy and liveliness to otherwise stiff presentations. These effects, which include wipes and float-ins, can be applied to text and objects within a slide. PowerPoint offers four types of animation effects:

Entrance: effects applied to the entrance of an object
Exit: effects applied to the exiting of an object from a slide
Emphasis: effects that emphasize an object by altering its size, color, or static nature
Motion: adjustable effects that alter an objects position within a slide based on a set path

Animation effects can be added, modified, or removed using the Animations tab in the PowerPoint Ribbon.

To learn more about adding, modifying, or removing animation effects from your presentations, view the following articles in the Microsoft Support Center:

Apply an animation effect to a presentation
Change or remove an animation effect from a presentation

Animations tab


Insert Videos into a Presentation

Videos can bring interactivity and diversity to information delivery in PowerPoint. PowerPoint allows you to embed and play saved video files and online videos in a presentation. Videos can be inserted into a presentation from the Media section in the Insert tab on the PowerPoint Ribbon. Like pictures and text boxes, once a video has been inserted into a slide, it can be moved around the canvas to a desirable position.

Video icon

During a presentation, a video can be played by manually simply clicking the video's Play button, or it can be played automatically by selecting the auto-play option found in the Video Tools Playback tab that opens when videos are embedded into a presentation.

Video Playback tab

To learn more about embedding saved or online videos in a PowerPoint presentation, view the following articles in the Microsoft Support Center:


Play Music During a Presentation

Music can add a new dimension to even the liveliest PowerPoint presentation. PowerPoint allows you insert and play the music in the background during a presentation. Music can be added to a presentation by uploading an audio file and then selecting the playback options for the file. Audio files can be added to a presentation by clicking the Audio icon in the Media section of the Insert tab on the PowerPoint Ribbon and then uploading an audio file. Multiple audio files may be added to a presentation through this method, and these files can be linked to specific slides, allowing for multiple audio clips to play during a presentation.

Audio icon

Playback options for audio files can be set in the Audio Tools Playback tab that opens when an audio file has been added to a presentation.

Audio playback

To learn more about adding music to a presentation, view the Play music for the duration of your slide show article in the Microsoft Support Center.


Create Handouts for Your Audience

Want your audience to follow along as you deliver your slide show? PowerPoint allows to you to print slide handouts that can be used as handy guides that enable your audience to keep pace with your presentation. Handouts can be customized to your needs and the needs of your audience in the Handout Master View. The Handout Master View can be accessed by clicking the Handout Master icon in the Master Views section of the View tab in the PowerPoint Ribbon.

Handout master icon

In Handout Master View, you can use the Handout Master tab to arrange the position of slides on a printout and format other elements, such as the header, footer, page orientation, and number of slides presented.

Handout Master tab

Once a handout has been customized in the Handout Master tab, it can then be printed from the PowerPoint print screen.

Print window


Use Powerpoint Keyboard Shortcuts

PowerPoint is a diverse application with a variety of features that make it easy to design and present dynamic presentations. These features can be accessed through many of the on-screen icons presented in the Ribbon, but they can also be accessed through keyboard shortcuts and function keys. To learn about PowerPoint keyboard shortcuts, view the Use keyboard shortcuts to create your presentation article in the Microsoft Support Center.