If you’re a graphic designer, I’m betting you’ve been asked to use your design skills in Microsoft PowerPoint. Don’t be like Dwight Shrute… if you only knew that the familiar tools and tricks you utilize in your favorite Adobe programs actually exist in PowerPoint, you might change your perspective. Gear up. I’m going to teach you the essentials to honing your design skills in PowerPoint. Read on to learn some tricks that will make you too legit to quit.
Tip #1: Alignment & Layers… They Do Exist
You know those handy buttons found in Illustrator that I mentioned before, that easily align things perfectly for you?
Yeah, those exist in PowerPoint too. And I had no idea until I stumbled upon them. To align objects the same way as your favorite Adobe program in PowerPoint for Mac, simply open up the Format tab, click on Arrange and use whichever alignment you desire (see photo above). Yep. It’s literally that easy. Don’t forget this trick because it will not only ensure pixel-perfect design in PowerPoint, but it will save you hours of moving things around manually.
Learn about alignment tools here – Design 101: 3 Illustrator Alignment Tips For Pixel-Perfect Design
Layers? You guessed it, PowerPoint has those too. If you’re a fan of working with layers you can open a 3D view of these layers by opening up the Format tab, then clicking on Arrange and selecting either Reorder Objects or Reorder Overlapping Objects. This will dim your screen and bring up all of your layers in a 3D view, in which you can move and arrange as you’d like. Pretty awesome if you ask me… it makes me seriously question why Adobe hasn’t added a sweet 3D layer feature like this! Not a fan of 3D layers? Well, you can have the classic panel view by using PowerPoint’s Selection and Visibility Pane. Read this article to learn more about that classic layer panel if you’d rather use that instead!
Tip #2: Working with Shapes like Adobe
If you’re like me, you probably like building out your own geometric shapes and designs yourself by using the Pathfinder tools. Instead of making these custom shapes in Illustrator and importing them into PowerPoint, why can’t you make them right inside PowerPoint? Well, you can! Yes, another feature I again stumbled upon are familiar features like the Pathfinder tools in Adobe. If you want to combine, unite, intersect or subtract shapes, you can do just that (here’s how they look). To do this, make sure you have them arranged by layers (just like Adobe, the layer order matters to get different results), select them both and right click. From the pop-up menu, go down to Grouping, then click on your desired option!
Tip #3: Speeding Up Your Experience
If you’re working on a Mac like I am, you’re probably aware of how much Mac hates Microsoft programs. It’s a hate that makes your computer slow down… a lot. Not to worry, I have some tricks you can use to speed up your design experience in PowerPoint.
- Speed Up Trick #1: Use linked images rather than embedded images. To do this, read my article “Design 101: 3 Hacks To Compress Giant PowerPoint Files.”
- Speed Up Trick #2: If you must embed your images, make sure to cut down the size of these images before importing them into your presentations. Most photography, whether it’s stock or your own, comes in a much larger size than your typical PowerPoint slide dimensions. Either size your photos to the standard PowerPoint size of 1024x728px yourself so they’re a perfect fit to fill the entire slide, or try exporting your full-sized photos down to a closer dimension to 1024x728px.
- Speed Up Trick #3: Work from your desktop. Wherever you’re working from, I’m sure there’s a big chance you’re working on a cloud-based storage provider like Dropbox. If you have all of your PowerPoint images, and everything inside your Dropbox folder for your project and you keep saving and pulling from there… you’re significantly slowing down your experience. Move your entire project to the desktop first, finish it there and then put it back on Dropbox. Doing this will help prevent your project from getting too bogged down.
No more should you have to feel any bad vibes for Microsoft vs. Apple. Use these tips to hone your design skills on working with PowerPoint rather than against it and getting frustrated. You can now work in layers, align objects, format shapes much like the Pathfinder tool in Adobe and even speed up your entire experience in PowerPoint. Designing in PowerPoint doesn’t have to be a hassle. With these tips, go forth and effortlessly create amazing designs without the added stress!