The University of Texas at Austin

Getting Started with Microsoft PowerPoint

20 February 2004
Copyright, Information Technology Services
The University of Texas at Austin

PowerPoint is a program to help create and present presentations. This handout introduces the basic features of Microsoft PowerPoint and covers the basics of creating simple presentations and editing and formatting the PowerPoint slides.

Starting A Presentation

Start PowerPoint by either of two methods:

  1. Go to the Start menu. Choose Programs and then click on Microsoft PowerPoint.
  2. Double-click the icon of any PowerPoint document. When you double-click a PowerPoint document, PowerPoint opens with the document already loaded.

A PowerPoint presentation consists of slides that can contain text, graphics, charts, and other data types. When you start PowerPoint, you can start with a blank presentation, or you can begin from a template or use the AutoContent Wizard.

The AutoContent Wizard is series of step-by-step instructions designed to assist you. The Template button accesses slide templates to help create a consistent, professional look for your slide presentation.

powerpoint content wizard graphic

Choose Blank Presentation if you want to start with a clean slate. This method is recommended because it provides the most flexibility and lets you focus on content first rather than appearance.

After you choose Blank Presentation, select the layout of your slides from the New Slide dialog box. Choose from slides with titles and bullets, titles only, titles and clip art, and other options. For example, choose the Title Slide and click OK.

powerpoint slide layout graphic

Save a PowerPoint Presentation

Changes you make to a document are not saved to disk until you issue a Save command. Saving is quick and easy, and you should save often to minimize the loss of your work. PowerPoint has two save commands, Save and Save As, that work similarly. Both commands are on the File menu.


When you save a new presentation for the first time, PowerPoint displays a dialog box similar to the Open dialog box. Select the disk in which to save the presentation and specify a name for the file. When you save an existing document that you have been editing, the newly saved version replaces the older version.

Save As

This command displays a dialog box where you can choose a document name and destination folder or disk. Use the Save As command whenever you want to save a copy of the current document with a different name or in a different folder or disk. The newly saved copy becomes the active document

A presentation is normally saved as ³name.ppt² file type. However, PowerPoint Show with the extension of ³name.pps² is also a useful file type so that your file is able to run regardless of OS. You can also create your own template and save it as ³pot² file.

Explore the PowerPoint Interface

Besides the usual window components, the PowerPoint window has several unique elements, identified in the figure below.

powerpoint interface graphic

Standard Toolbar

The Standard toolbar, located beneath the menu bar, has buttons for commonly performed tasks like printing, saving, inserting clip art, and other operations. You can customize the toolbar or even display multiple toolbars at the same time.

powerpoint standard toolbar graphic

Formatting toolbar

The Formatting toolbar, located beneath the Standard toolbar bar, or possible to the side of it, has buttons for various formatting operations like changing text size or style, changing alignment, formatting bullets, and animation.

powerpoint formatting toolbar graphic

Drawing Toolbar

The Drawing toolbar on the bottom of the PowerPoint window contains drawing and text tools for creating graphics.

powerpoint drawing toolbar graphic

PowerPoint Views

PowerPoint has three different views. Normal View provides a comprehensive view for each slide with notes and outline. Slide Sorter View displays multiple slides and lets you quickly change their order in the presentation. Finally, the Slide Show view is also called preview. It is used to run the whole presentation.

Use the three buttons at the bottom left of the window to change slide views. For example, you can switch from Normal view to Slide Sorter view by clicking one of these buttons.

Edit and Format a Slide

Enter and Edit Text in Outline View

PowerPoint's Outline Area lets you focus on the content of your presentation, by typing up the outline prior to laying the presentation out. After you type an outline, you can concentrate on how your presentation looks.

The boundary of the Outline Area can be resized by dragging the vertical seperation to the right. This will make it easier to enter your outline.

Entering Slide Titles and Bullets

Typing in PowerPoint's Outline view is similar to using a word processor. Type your slide title or bullet point and press Return to start a new slide or bullet. To force a line break within a slide title or bullet, press Shift-Enter (Shift-Return on the Mac). This starts a new line for the same title or bullet.

Promote and Demote Text

In Outline view, text is either a slide title, bullet point or sub bullet. To change a bullet to a slide title, select the text and click the Promote button (a green left-pointing arrow) on the Outlining toolbar. The Demote button (a green right-pointing arrow)will change a title to a bullet point or sub bullet under the previous item.

powerpoint promote and demote icons graphic

Copy and Move Data

Use the Copy and Paste commands to copy selected text and graphics from one slide to another. If you want to move data instead, use the Cut and Paste commands. To do this:

  • Select the text you want to cut or copy by highlighting it.

  • Go to the Standard Toolbar to choose the Cut or Copy short cut icon.

  • Move and click your mouse to the place where you want the text to go. Note the cursor is blinking.

  • Go to the Standard Toolbar to choose the Paste short cut icon.

Move Slides in the Outline Area

It's easy to change the order of your slides and bullets in the Outline Area. Press the mouse button on the item you want to move and drag it to the desired location. You can also select the item you want to move and click on the Move Up or Move Down buttons.

Delete Slides or Bullets

While working in the Outline Area, you can delete a slide by clicking on the slide icon next to the title and pressing the Delete key. Delete bullets and sub bullets similarly.

Undo Mistakes

If you make a terrible mistake (accidentally deleting a slide title or bullet point, for example), use the Undo command on the Edit menu or the Undo tool. You can undo multiple mistakes with the Undo tool. If you are unsure what action you will be undoing, the Edit menu will display the action it will undo.

Edit and Format a Presentation

Apply a Template to a Presentation

A template is a PowerPoint presentation that defines how your text and slide background will look. A plain presentation is simply black text on a white background.

A template might include a blue background with bold yellow letters and a particular graphic.

To apply a template to your presentation, choose Slide Design from the Format menu. The available templates will appear in the Task Pane, and once you select one, PowerPoint will apply it to all the slides.

Define Slide Transition and Animation

Transition effects help define how a presentation move from one slide to the next. Animation defines how you want your listed information to come in and out of the presentation.

Apply transition effects in Slide Sorter View or by selecting the Slide Transition command on the Slide Show menu. Keep in mind that the Transition command only sets the desired transition for the selected slides. We will explore in more depth custom transitions and animations in the advanced-level class. Now let us just do the following to quickly apply the transition as well as animation effects to our project here:

  • Switch to the Slide Sorter View.

  • Move your mouse over the slide you want to apply transition effects.

  • Click once to select the slide.

  • Go to the Slide transition drop down menu on the toolbar. Choose Box Out.

  • Note that preview is immediately applied on the selected slide.

  • Apply some effects to other slides if you like.

Edit the Slide Master or Individual Slides

The Slide Master in a template is a slide that controls the formatting, text, and objects that appear on every slide in your presentation. For example, if you want a small picture of the world to appear on every slide, place that picture on the Slide Master. To display the Slide Master, choose Master/Slide Master from the View menu. You can then edit this slide. Changes you make to the Slide Master also appear on each slide in your presentation.

It is easiest to edit the text of a slide in the Outline Area. However, to modify a slide's appearance, switch to Slide View. If you want your changes to apply to every slide in the presentation, choose Master/Slide Master from the View menu.

In Slide View just click on an object to select it. Then use the Format menu to apply the change you want. For example, to change the font or color of the slide title, select the slide title and choose Font from the Format menu. The Format menu also has commands for centering or left aligning text (Alignment), and changing colors (Colors and Lines). You can even change the format of slide bullets using the Bullets command on the Format menu. PowerPoint also has a Formatting toolbar to simplify basic formatting tasks.

Slide Background

Choose Background from the Format menu to change a slide's background color or gradient. Click on the color rectangle near the bottom of the dialog box,

powerpoint background dialog graphic

and select either More Colors or Fill Effects. As shown in the Colors and Fill Effects dialog boxes below, you can change the color, gradient, texture, or pattern, or you can use a picture file.

powerpoint color dialog graphic powerpoint fill effects dialog graphic

Again, if you want this background to apply to all slides, make sure you select Mater/Slide Master from the View menu before making the change. Click on the Apply button when you are done.

Insert the Clip Arts and Objects

Creating Charts

PowerPoint's Chart tool is located on the Standard toolbar. Click the Chart tool to create a graph in your presentation. PowerPoint activates a data worksheet with labels and numbers. Change these labels and numbers to reflect your data. If you do not want to graph a certain row or column, double-click it and PowerPoint will remove that data from the chart. When you are through entering data in the worksheet, close it.

powerpoint chart tool icon graphic
powerpoint inserting a chart graphic

Tip: It is efficient to choose a "Chart" layout for a new slide of chart. To do this:

  • Click on the Insert menu and choose New Slide.

  • In the layout dialogue box, choose the "Chart" layout. Click OK.

  • In the PowerPoint working window, double click the chart place holder to activate the edit mode.

  • Enter the data from the table below into the data sheet on the screen and watch the change of the chart.

smaple excel table with data graphic

The chart border will change and the chart toolbar will appear at the top of the screen. The chart toolbar includes buttons for changing chart type., inserting gridlines and legends, and additional chart features. For example, if you want to change a column chart to a horizontal bar chart, choose that chart type from the Chart Type tool.

Drawing Tools

PowerPoint has a set of drawing tools used to place lines, shapes, figures, WordArt, and text on a slide. PowerPoint's drawing tools are similar to drawing tools in other graphics programs. To use these tools, make sure you are in Slide View.

Use the Auto Shapes tool (shown below) to create regular shapes like stars, polygons, triangles, and other shapes.

powerpoint autoshapes drawing tool graphic

If you draw something on a slide and want to delete it, click on the object and press the Delete key.

PowerPoint has a collection of clip art that you can use in your presentation. Select the slide you want the clip art on, and choose Picture/Clip Art from the Insert menu. Choose the category you want and select a clip art image. You can also use the Copy and Paste procedures described earlier to paste clip art into PowerPoint from other programs. For example, if you have created your own logo in Adobe Illustrator, you can copy the image and paste it into a PowerPoint presentation.

PowerPoint also lets you insert Microsoft Excel charts, Microsoft Word tables, pictures in separate files and other objects.

Slide Setup and Printing

Before you print your slide presentation, make sure the slide size and orientation is correct. Also, decide whether you want to print in color or black and white.

Change these settings using the Page Setup and Print commands on the File menu.

Slide Setup

The Slide Setup dialog box has controls for slide size and orientation. Choose the appropriate slide size and orientation before you do significant formatting in your presentation. Changing slide orientation from portrait to landscape or vice versa may require editing and reformatting slides.


To print your slide presentation, choose Print from the File menu, or click the Print button on the toolbar. In the Print dialog box you can choose how many copies you want to print. Use the Print What: drop-down list to select whether you want to print just the slides, notes, or handouts with multiple slides per page.

Note on color printing: To print your presentation in color:

  • Mac: click the Color/Grayscale radio button in PowerPoint's print dialog box, and choose a color printer using Print Services from the Apple menu.

  • PC: select a color printer from the print box.

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