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These are a few questions answered on the PowerPoint newsgroup (either by me or by someone else) - I imagine this will help many more people if it is presented in a clear, concise way. Most of the content has been edited to provide a more contextual reading.


White Text Disappears
Transparent Hyperlinks I
Transparent Hyperlinks II
Flash and Director Stuff
PowerPoint And Autorun
Title Master Grayed
Printing Backgrounds
Path Perils
Hide Slide Show Controller
Save As HTML Disabled
Make An Intermission Slide
Printing Without Backgrounds
Change Text Box Default Font
Animation Ideas
Jagged Chart Edges
Reducing Sound Volumes


White Text Disappears

Q: I am using white text on a dark coloured background. Whenever I select the text to add or edit, the selection turns entirely white - making it almost impossible to even view what is being typed. Any help is welcome.

A: Go straightaway to Format->Slide Color Scheme. You'll find your background color set to white. Change it, and your problem should disappear.

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Transparent Hyperlinks I

  1. Just in case you don't know what a clear hyperlink is, it is a rectangle or some other shape, exactly covering the text to be hyperlinked (fudged in this case).

  2. Draw any rectangle - right-click it and choose 'Action Settings' to enter details regarding your hyperlink destinations (the Internet, offline web pages or even another presentation or a slide in the same presentation).

  3. Right-click the rectangle again, choose 'Format AutoShape' and set the fill and line colors to transparent.

  4. You're done.

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Transparent Hyperlinks II

Use this tip in continuation to the above technique.

  1. Follow the above technique to put two clear hyperlinks on the slide master. One of these should completely cover the right half of the slide (right click and choose Action Settings; set hyperlink to Next Slide) and the other should similarly cover the left half of the slide (right click and choose Action Settings; set hyperlink to Previous Slide).

  2. Now when you give your presentation, you simply need to click anywhere on the right half of the slide to advance or click the left half to go back a slide.

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Flash and Director Stuff

To incorporate Flash and Director content in PowerPoint, do visit the following pages:

PowerPoint And Flash
PowerPoint And Director

And for those who want to convert PowerPoint presentations into a Flash movies, read this review:

Presedia Publisher

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PowerPoint And Autorun

PowerPoint and the concept of creating an autorun CD with a presentation - this is such an often requested feature - it's a wonder why Microsoft has never included this feature in newer PowerPoint releases.

The following links and applications may help you.

Sonia Coleman and Steve Hetrick have jointly developed the Autorun CD Project Creator, now in version 2. There are full review at Indezine - as well as more information at the ACDPC homepage.

Jennifer Rotondo of Creative Minds Inc., creates the elegant RunIt! and RunIt Plus applications. More information at the RunIt! homepage. Watch out for a full Indezine review soon.

GST PowerLaunch is the third angle of the PowerPoint Autorun trinity. Surprisingly unknown, and even less publicised - find more information at the PowerLaunch homepage.

Creating autorun CDs is half the story - no autorun CD is elegant without an autorun splash. The best program for this chore is AutoPlay Menu Studio. You'll find a complete tutorial on Indezine - also visit the AutoPlay Menu Studio homepage.

In the days of PowerPoint 97, Microsoft had a tutorial on their site to manually create PowerPoint autorun CDs. Mysteriously absent for the last few years, I found it finally on an old Technet CD. Here it is, in Adobe's Acrobat format, free to download.

Microsoft also used to provide the CD Wizard add-in for PowerPoint 97 - you'll find more info at the PowerPoint Presentation on CD page.

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Title Master Grayed

Q. I would like to modify the title master - however, when I actually choose View -> Master, the Title Master is grayed out. Why?

A. If the Title Master option is grayed out, it means that there is no title master present. To insert one:

  1. Go to View -> Master -> Slide Master.
  2. Thereafter, Insert -> New Title Master.

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Printing Backgrounds

Q. I created a presentation with a custom image as the background - certainly looks awesome on the screen but prints awful. Help!

A. The image resolution could be 72 dpi rather than the 600 dpi your printer expects. Onscreen graphics view fine with 72 dpi - but printing requires a higher resolution. Unfortunately, higher resolutions translate into higher file sizes. That's why many professional presentation templates are available in both screen and print versions.

There could other reasons as well. Select the background, and copy it to the clipboard. Thereafter. paste it into Microsoft's Photo Editor application (you may have to reinstall it from the Office 97, 2000 or XP install discs). Save it as a .bmp file - and then, back in Powerpoint, use the Insert -> Picture -> From File routine. This should do the trick. At least on one occassion, this problem was caused because the actual image was from an Apple Macintosh and had some different color depth properties.

Quite often you could use something like Adobe Photoshop. Corel Photo-Paint or Jasc Paint Shop Pro for the copy and paste journey trick - however, Microsoft's own Photo Editor is the most fool-proof application for such an exercise.

The same problem can also occur for another reason - for instance, when you export your slides from a PowerPoint presentation to an image format like JPG or TIF. PowerPoint, especially PowerPoint 97 treats images differently if you input them through Format -> Background route rather than the Insert -> Picture -> From File routine. The former method does result in smaller file size but can mess up the finished quality of printed slides and exported images.

Also, many users disable backgrounds when printing - or even choose a plain colour background for printing. Just choose Format -> Background, set to White, and then choose 'Apply To All'. Don't save your presentation - just process the Print command. Once the printing has been done, close the presentation without saving your changes.

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Path Perils

Q. I created a PowerPoint presentation with inserted MP3 sounds saved from a subfolder within the presentation folder. Now, I've sent across the presentation to someone else, with the subfolders intact - yet PowerPoint cannot find the linked MP3 sounds. Why?

A. This is a classic case of the tug-of-war between absolute and relative links. Absolute links relate to links whose exact file locations include the entire nested folder routine from the root of the drive, including the drive name. For instance if your presentation links to a MP3 file called 'thisisit.mp3', PowerPoint will link its absolute link which may be 'D:/Personal/Mp3/thisisit.mp3'. Copy the presentation to another computer, where there's no such folder organization, and PowerPoint just refuses to find the actual MP3 sound.

The solution is to use relative links - in the same way as web pages refer to linked files. For example if you store the 'thisisit.mp3' file in a subfolder within the actual presentation folder and name it 'Sounds' - in that case you would expect PowerPoint to link relatively using the 'Sounds/thisisit.mp3'. Unfortunately, PowerPoint would still use an absolute link.

The only way that PowerPoint can be forced to use relative links is to store all linked sounds, movies and animations within the same folder as the presentation, even before inserting them. That way, you can copy the entire folder anywhere - and your presentation will work just fine!

Of course, you could also use a commercial product like SecurePack, which will condense your presentation and linked files into one standalone EXE file.

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Hide Slide Show Controller

Q. How can I hide the slide show controller in the bottom left of a running presentation? I could go to pointer options and make it hidden - this hides the arrow cursor as well.

A. Hiding the slide show controller is a machine specific option . To hide the button, go to Tools -> Options, select the View tab from the resultant dialog box and deselect the 'Show popup menu button' option.

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Save As HTML Disabled

Q. The 'Save As HTML' option is grayed out in the File menu of PowerPoint 97. Am I missing something?

A. Office or PowerPoint 97's typical installations don't install the 'Web Authoring' components by default. You'll need to fire up the setup again - place the Office or PowerPoint 97 CD in the drive, run setup again - choose the 'Add / Remove' option and remember to opt for 'Web Authoring' this time.

In addition, it has been found that the latest Adobe Acrobat 5.0 installation often messes up with PowerPoint's 'Save As HTML' setting.

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Make An Intermission Slide

Ever wanted a coordinated intermission slide for a long presentation. Its quick and easy - just follow these steps:

  1. If you need to cater for an intermission of 10 minutes, you could create a clock or a timer.
  2. Type 'Back in' on the top of the slide and 'Minutes' at the bottom of the slide.
  3. Draw a circle with a suitable AutoShape in the centre of the slide - type the number '10' within the circle.
  4. Go to slide sorter view, select the slide and duplicate it 9 times to end up with 10 similar slides.
  5. Now reduce the number from 10 to 1 in every consecutive slide by changing the number.
  6. Go back to slide sorter view, right-click on the first slide of this sequence of ten, right-click and choose 'Transition' from the resultant popup menu.
  7. In the Transition dialog box that appears, set the transition to 'No Transition' and time to 'Automatically after 60 seconds'.
  8. Repeat for the next 9 slides.
  9. Your intermission slides are ready!

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Printing Without Backgrounds

Q. I've created a presentation with around a 100 slides - currently I am using a dark black image as the background with white text. I need to print these slides as handouts that show black text over a white background so that I do not waste gallons of ink. Is there a way I can do this without effecting ther original presentation.

A. What you need to do is insanely simple. Follow these steps:

  1. Open PowerPoint and select the option to create a blank presentation.
  2. Go to View -> Slide Master, and then Format -> Background. Choose the Picture tab, and browse to wherever your existing black background picture is located. Now select the text boxes and change their colours to white.
  3. Go to Insert -> Title Master and repeat the steps for inputting your background and changing the text colours to white.
  4. Create, save and close your presentation.
  5. Open your presentation, go to View Slide Master, set your background to a plain white colour and your text to black. Do the same for your Title Master.
  6. Print your slides.
  7. Close PowerPoint - at this juncture, PowerPoint will offer to save your changed presentation. Just refuse - that's it!

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Change Text Box Default Font

Q. I would like to change the default font in a text box - how can I?

A. You could use the template and change a font - although this works better - set the font to what you want, right-click and choose font. Then in the font dialog, check "default for new objects."

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Animation Ideas

Q. I want more animation ideas to make my presentations look distinctive - any ideas?

A. Look at these:

Advanced Animation Techniques
Animate PowerPoint 2002 Web Presentation
Terberg Design - Samples

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Jagged Chart Edges

Q. The charts I create in PowerPoint show jagged edges - how can I smoothen the edges?

A. Go to Tools -> Options and choose the Print tab in the resultant dialog box. Check the option to 'Print inserted objects at printer resolution'.

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Reducing Sound Volumes

Ever wanted to reduce the volume of a WAV file to use in PowerPoint? It is easy…

Go to the Start Menu, choose Run and then 'sndrec32.exe' - this will open Sound Recorder - open your WAV file and choose Effects -> Decrease Volume. Repeat the Decrease Volume option if you want to reduce the sound level further. Save when you're done.

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