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Understanding MS PowerPoint - What is PowerPoint?

written by: Tony J Palazzo•edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 1/9/2010

The commonly accepted definition of Microsoft PowerPoint is "the presentation software application of the Microsoft Office Suite." With sophisticated, yet easy to use graphical and animation capabilities, PowerPoint is often a vital component of business meetings and classroom lectures alike.

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    What is Microsoft PowerPoint used for?

    The main purpose of MS PowerPoint is to enable the user to create dynamic, informational slide shows through the use of text, graphics, and animation. Slide shows created with the software are often displayed on projection screens for business, training, or educational presentations, although they can be distributed as stand-alone files. Additionally, the slides can be arranged and printed as handouts for reference.

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    Creating a Slide Show

    When beginning a new slide show, PowerPoint provides an array of templates to choose from. Experienced users with a specific look in mind can start with a blank presentation for setting attributes, such as colors and fonts, to their own specifications. After creating the initial file, the next step is to create a slide, which can be done by using an auto layout, or a blank screen in order to add components manually. You can then choose to add a combination of text and graphics to suit the needs of the presentation, and apply animation to either of these elements to create a dynamic effect. You can add as many slides and make them as content-rich as your system can handle; there are no limits imposed in the software itself.

    Once the slide show is complete, or nearing completion, you can preview it and rehearse your presentation to get a feel for the length of time the presentation will run. If the rehearsal goes over the allotted time, you can go back and do some editing to condense some of the information. Once finished, the slide show can be run from within PowerPoint or saved as a PowerPoint Viewer file for access on systems that don’t have the full version installed. This is useful if the slide show is intended to be downloaded from a website, and viewed on individual systems, as opposed to being part of a live presentation.

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    Features of Microsoft PowerPoint

    With PowerPoint, you can make charts, tables, and macros, and insert images, audio, video, and other multimedia files, either by embedding them into the file or, if your version doesn’t support the particular file, linking to it in a slide.

    PowerPoint 2003 introduced some additional features to make slide shows accessible to a much wider audience. The free PowerPoint Viewer application makes it possible for a slide show to be viewed on systems without the need to install the full PowerPoint application. Additionally, the PowerPoint Package for CD provides the option of transferring the presentation file, and all its associated contents, such as linked video files, to a CD along with the Viewer, allowing the presentation to be viewed on operating systems as early as Windows 98.

    PowerPoint 2007 added improved visual effects, such as shading and beveling, to give slide shows a more professionally designed look. A live preview option is also available in the 2007 version. To get a quick view of PowerPoint’s capabilities and how people are using it, visit http://www.slideshare.net. For more in-depth views on working with PowerPoint, some articles of interest include How to Add Music from a File to a Microsoft PowerPoint Presentation, How to Embed YouTube Videos into Microsoft PowerPoint 2007, and Gantt Charts: Creating Them in Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2007.

    With an abundance of features and possible applications, "versatility" would perhaps be a more succinct definition of Microsoft Powerpoint.





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