Using Microsoft PowerPoint 2010 – Walk Before You Run

MS PowerPoint does not see quite as much use as the twin giants of Word and Excel and just like a great classical musician must be proficient in a piece before they start improvising, we’re going to have a look at getting the basics right in PowerPoint 2010. Don’t forget to have a look at our others articles for more advanced topics.

Applying a template
PowerPoint 2010 has a wide array of built-in templates to cover almost all common presentation themes from meeting slides to a photo gallery. Using a pre-existing template is far easier than building your own from scratch but you may still want the flexibility of your own so we’ll address that later in this article.

To select one of the built-in templates, click on the File menu and select Sample Templates. Choose your desired template and click Create.

You can also have even more options at your disposal from Simply click on the template categories under and then click Download to be able to select it.

Adding shapes to a slide
Click on the Insert tab and look for the Shapes option on the menu. Select your desired shape and you’ll see that it will be highlighted. Click, hold and drag within your presentation slide to draw the shape.

Manipulating shapes
You can resize or rotate shapes using the cursor arrows that appear when you hover over the size anchors (the white points) or the rotate anchor (the green circle above the shape). Below you can see a screengrab taken during an anti-clockwise rotation of the shape to give you an idea.

You can also scale shapes by using the size anchors and holding shift to keep the aspect ratio of the whole shape while you change the size.

Holding CTRL while changing the size of shape extends the shape equally from the opposite side. For example, if you wanted to make the oval above wider at both sides, you could hold CTRL and then using the size anchor at the left apex, to extend the shape to the left. You will notice that while you hold CTRL it will also be extending to the right.

Another useful tip for shapes is moving the shape while keep the current alignment. For example, if you wanted to keep the oval above in the middle of the page vertically, but place it slightly higher, you could hold SHIFT and then click and drag. You will notice that the shape will still stay in the middle even though you are dragging it up.

If you need to make copies of shapes but keep them in the shape alignment, you can highlight the shape and then hold CTRL and SHIFT at the same time. This will create a new copy of your shape that you’ll be able to move around in the same alignment as the original.

Users who may not be familiar with Adobe Photoshop will want to know that you can nudge shapes around by using the cursor keys instead of replying entirely on the mouse. This is really useful if you want to move a shape by a minimal amount. Highlight the shape and then use the cursor/arrow keys to nudge the shape by very small increments.


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