October 17, 2014 in GS32367
Today we’re going to summarize everything we’ve learned about PowerPoint and Word, and apply these skills to finishing our presentations and resumes. So let’s get at it.
Putting a PowerPoint Presentation together
If I didn’t get my message across to you about the limitations of PowerPoint, here it is again: if your message is complex, nuanced, and took you more than an hour to figure out what you want to say, write it down on paper first, and then brainstorm about how a few PowerPoint slides can enhance what you are going to say to your audience. So let’s go straight to the process I’d like you to use to make your own presentation.
- Research! Nothing makes a presentation more interesting than having something to say. That requires doing more than Googling a few keywords, clicking on the first few (advertised) links and being done with it. Think about what you want to talk about, and focus on finding some interesting details online that no one in your audiences knows about. When you find something online, save the url and write a summary sentence or two about what you learned from the page, so you’ll be able to remember it later on when you’re putting your presentation together.
- Design. You don’t need a lot of bells and whistles to keep your audience attentive during your presentation. A good, clear (sans serif) font, a couple of complementary colors, and a picture or two will get you well on your way to putting together a successful PowerPoint presentation.
- Make the template first, then pour in the content. Avoid to urge to immediately start cut-and-pasting as soon as you open up PowerPoint. You’ll be creating twice as much work for yourself doing it that way. Instead, go to View | Slide Master to work out a good layout for all of your slides. Avoid having different color schemes, etc. for each slide. You want a consistent “look and feel” to each and every slide. Consistency implies professionalism and skill. A hodge-podge, scattershot approach reminds us of arts and crafts class in elementary school.
So let’s see this process at work.
Making a PowerPoint Template
Before you begin pouring your content into a PowerPoint slide, you need to standardize the kinds of fonts and colors that will enhance the message you are trying to convey to your audience. There are three kinds of text you work with in PowerPoint:
- Title text (in a Title Slide),
- Heading Text, and
- Body Text (in a Title and Content slide).
The only difference in the point size of the text. You should avoid using multiple fonts in a presentation, as it looks unprofessional. Remember, fonts should be formatted when you’re designing the templates, before you start typing content into the text boxes. Here’s how to format fonts:
- On the template slide, roll over the edge of the text box until the cursor changes from an arrow to one with a “compass,” four arrow radiating out from a point.
- Right click on the edge of the box. You should see a toolbar appear, you want the one with all the buttons on it. You’ll know you did this right if you continue to see, “Click to add …” in the text box. You won’t see it if you clicked within the box, and then you won’t be able to format the template.
- Click on the first drop down arrow. Here you can select whatever font you desire, see below about which fonts are the most readable.
- The drop down arrow to the right of the first one with the numbers allows you to make the font bigger or smaller. Title text is usually no less than 28, Header text 20, and body 16.
- The second line of buttons allows you to bold, italicize, center and recolor the font. Recoloring is important if you changed the background color.
Common sense applies here — if you can’t read it, your audience can’t either. The two categories of fonts are serif (type with curvy branches of the main stems of a letter) and sans serif (type that doesn’t have the curly qs). You should use sans serif fonts for presentations. Here are some examples of how to use fonts effectively in your presentation. A hard copy of various fonts can also help you choose what font will work for you. If you’re really into typography (like me!) the tools described in this article will help you explore the nuances of fonts in greater detail.
Finally, the font links on the right side of this web page will give you lists of fonts that will offer you pretty much any kind of typeset that you are looking for in your presentation.
On a computer monitor, TV or video projector, all colors are a composite function of Red, Green and Blue colors (RGB). That is to say, any color can be specified by defining how much red, green and blue color is used to create the specific color. RGB color values in PowerPoint are defined in a range from 0 (no color) to 255 (fully saturated color). So a RGB value of (255,0,0) would represent pure red, and (0,0,255) would represent pure blue. Here are some additional examples of RGB color values.
There’s another way colors can be referenced instead of by three RGB numbers. The Pantone color chart uses ramps to create light and dark colors. Certain pairs of colors, like blue and yellow, and red and green, stand out well against each other, it is easier for us to distinguish these pairs of colors than say, red and orange. A Color Schemer can help you pick out a good mix.
Again, there is a list of links to the right on this webpage that you can use to help find a palette of colors that will look just right for your presentation.
Once you set up your template slides correctly, all you have to do is copy them when needed by selecting them in the slide window on the left side of the PowerPoint window, and copying however many you need. Don’t type into your template slides!
Next up, … animation!
Making a Word document pop
Creating a Word document is similar to putting together PowerPoint slides — you have to give some thought to how the text will appear on the page before you actually start typing or cutting and pasting. Here are some of the most important layout functions to consider while laying out a Word page:
- Views — at the bottom of the Word window are a bunch of buttons. The first one, ‘Print Layout,’ allows you to see the entire page at a glance. This view is help when you want to see how the text falls on the page without actually reading it. When you want to edit text line by line, it’s better to click on the last button, called ‘Draft.’ Instead of seeing the whole page, the view is limited to the actual text margins. All white space is hidden from view.You can change how much of the page/text you want to see by click on the Zoom buttons on the View tab of the menu bar, or the zoom slide bar at the bottom right of the Word window, next to the View buttons.
- Page Margins — Under the ‘Page Layout’ tab in the menu is a button called ‘Margins.’ At the bottom of the drop down menu is ‘Custom Margins.’ You can change the amount of white space on the top, bottom, left and right sides, as well as change the position of the page from Portrait to Landscape from this dialog box.Sometimes it’s easier to turn the gridlines on to help visualize where the text will fall on the page. You can turn on the gridlines from the View tab on the menu bar, and check the ‘Gridlines’ box to see the squares on the page.
- Header and Footers — The very top and bottom spaces on the page are reserved for information you want to keep on every page of your document. The simplest way to access these spaces is to double click on them. When you do that, you will see a blue dotted line and a blue box with the word, ‘Header’ or Footer’ separating the greyed out body text from the header or footer.
In the Header, the title of the document and your name are often placed.
- Field Codes — In the Footer, little bits of file data called, “field codes,” are often inserted. In Word 2010, you can insert a field code in the footer of a page by going to the ‘Insert’ tab on the menu bar, and click on the ‘Quick Parts’ button on the right side. Select the field button on the drop down menu to access the codes.
The most common field codes are FileName, Page, and Date.
If you use the space bar to move words around on the page (tap tap tap tap), you’re doing it wrong. Trying to center your name at the top of your resume with the space bar never works, and looks unprofessional. Hitting the Enter key to move a line down on the page creates either too much or too little white space. Learning how to use some basic Word formatting techniques will take you a long way to making your resume look a lot more professional. Take a look at this resume and see how the following Word formatting functions can help layout key pieces of information on the page.:
- Paragraph Formatting — We already know how to use Page Layout to move the text borders around on the page, but suppose you want to indent a paragraph like your Value Proposition to give it some visual impact on the page — you can’t use the Page Layout more than once, so we have to individually format that paragraph. After selecting a paragraph you want to format, click on the Home menu, and click on the little Paragraph dialog button, on the bottom right of the Paragraph section. In the dialog box that pops up, you can change the text alignment to left, center, right or justifiy. You can make the first line hang or indent on the Special drop down box. You can specify how much space you want between each line in the line spacing box.
But there are two options in this dialog box that aren’t so obvious, and yet are critical to producing a professional looking document: Spacing and Indentation. Spacing allows you to define how much white space will be above and below your highlighted paragraph. And Indent does the same for the left and right sides of the paragraph. This is how you should add white space around a paragraph, not by hitting the Enter button.
- The Ruler Bar —You often see dates of employment pushed up on the right side of the text margin. Never use the space bar to do this! Instead, use the tab ribbon along the top of the text box. If you don’t see it, click on the View Ruler button that is just above the elevator bar on the right side of the window. On the left side of the ruler is a small square that allows you to define left, center and right align tabs. Once you define what kind of tab you want, you just click on the ruler where you want the tab to be set. Then hit the tab button to position your text where you want it.
- Bullets — Fun Time! The bullet button is in the Paragraph section of the Home menu. You can define a new bullet from the drop down arrow that’s just below the button. You can use symbols or even pictures for bullets.
So let’s use the functions to set up some pieces of the resume.
Here are the page formatting specifications for the text:
- Top Margin = 1.25″, Bottom Margin = .75″, Left Margin = 1.5″, Right Margin = 1″
- Body text is Univers 14pt
- Type your name on the first line of a new Word document. Center it, and add 12 points of white space below it.
- Type a paragraph about what you would like to do this summer. Use paragraph formatting to indent the paragraph half an inch on the left and right sides. Add 12 points of white space above and below the paragraph.
- Create a bulleted list of at least 3 specific activities you would like to do over fall break.
- On the final line, type ‘Computer Class #6′. Then use a right-align tab to tab the date to the end of the line.
I Need A Break!
Now that it’s getting warmer, and the sun is setting after 5PM, I want to get out of my house and go somewhere, …cheap and not crowded. I’ve heard about it in passing many times at Boricua, now maybe I can check it out: Vieques Island.
The first thing I need to do is find some interesting content online. Don’t just hack away at the first thing that resembles what it is you’re looking for, look for tantalizing tidbits that will mesmerize your audience. So I went to Yebol, and searched for some good websites on Vieques. Here’s the list and a short summary for each.
- Vieques Island Blog – current postings on what’s happening on the island.
- Comprehensive Vieques Travel Guide – the name says it all. A resource for everything you would want to know about Vieques.
- CIA Factbook – most experienced travelers check out this website before they go on vacation to get a feel for what to expect on their trip. Tourism has traditionally been an important source of income with estimated arrivals of more than 3.6 million tourists in 2008.
- Unexploded munitions cleared at Vieques – one of the reasons it’s still affordable and not crowded is that you have to tip toe around land mines.
- NYT travel guide – one of the first websites New Yorkers check out when wanderlust waxes us out of our tiny apartments. Maybe going salao wouldn’t be such a bad thing.
- Maps! – the Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection has every map you could possibly need for reference to the island.
- Pic! – you always need a good welcoming picture to great your audience, and here’s a good one.
- Beach sound – where there’s a beach, there are the cascading caresses of waves covering the warm sand.
So now I have to convert my research into some PowerPoint slides. The first slide, the welcome slide generally is a full picture with some simple looping animation to get the audience ready for the presentation. Then a map to reference where in the world we’re going, followed by a few news items to add some color to the presentation. Finally, a reference to Ernest Hemingway’s “A Old Man and the Sea,” to bring home why I want to go there. And that’s it!
- Choose a topic that will help you get a better grade in one of your classes, or just something that you’re interested in, and do some online research. Choose the fonts, colors and pictures you want to include in your presentation. Upload your presentation to your post page.
- Finish formatting your resume. Make sure to use as many Word functions (bold, center, paragraph, margins, etc.) as you can in laying out your Word page.