Getting Started with Microsoft's PowerPoint
Have you thought about creating a holiday greeting with PowerPoint? The program comes with all versions of Microsoft Office; but I've found that many users don't understand how it works.
PowerPoint was designed to create colorful "slide show" presentations, complete with sound and animations. A presentation can be a simple series of images and/or text messages; but all kinds of creative effects can be added to each slide.
A line of text can be made to appear on the screen one letter at a time, or phrases can be made to slide in from one edge of the screen, or the whole message can be made to appear in a "venetian blind" effect. These are just a few of the many special effects available.
Here are some tips to get you started. After launching PowerPoint you can click on "AutoContent Wizard" and be led through a series of prompts that will have you up and running in no time.
What I do, however, is go directly to "Blank Presentation" and build one from scratch.
This will display a window with a collection of suggested layouts. Dark bars represent "text boxes" where you type in messages. Cartoon faces represent "picture boxes" where graphics can be inserted. Other boxes represent various bulleted lists and charts, where you would substitute your own content for the dummy items.
However, I prefer the "totally blank" frame, because everything you see in the "suggested layouts" can be created manually, along with your own special touch. Here's a brief example:
With a blank slide displayed, click on Insert>Text Box. Use your mouse to draw a rectangle of the approximate size needed for adding some text, and then type a message into it, such as, "Happy Holidays from the (YourName) Family!" You will see a familiar text-editing toolbar for choosing fonts, sizes, styles, and colors.
Now let's have some fun with it. Mouse-select a message and click Slide Show>Custom Animation. Next click the down arrow under "Entry Animation & Sound" and choose a special effect, such as Checkerboard, Dissolve, Spiral, or Swivel.
Click OK and then click Slide Show>View Show. Your entire screen will go blank and wait for a mouse click to start the presentation. After the animated text does its thing, click twice to return to the editing mode.
To add a photo go to Insert>Picture>From File, and browse your way to an image. Move the inserted picture to wherever you want it and then return to Slide Show>Custom Animation, where you can choose special "entrance" effects.
Now press F5 and watch your text and pictorial magically materialize.
Finally, go to Format, and choose "Background" or "Apply Design Template" to give your slide a colorful backdrop. When ready to build Slide 2, click Insert>New Slide.
This is just the tip of the PowerPoint iceberg — animated cartoons can be used, as can music and/or a vocal narration. The possibilities are virtually unlimited. Click on Help or press F1 for assistance and tutorials.
As for emailing a presentation, the recipient must also have PowerPoint or a PowerPoint-compatible presentation program, such as
WordPerfect Presentations or OpenOffice Impress. Google offers a free online presentation program at
www.google.com, however, it may not be as full-featured as the other programs mentioned above.
Beyond all the above suggestions, a free PowerPoint "viewer" is available from
www.microsoft.com. The viewer will allow you to play Powerpoint slide shows, but will not let you create or edit them.
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