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Help With Microsoft® PowerPoint® Assignments

Introduction

Microsoft® PowerPoint® software is used widely in business and education to create visual presentations to accompany live speaking.

Table of Contents Using Microsoft® PowerPoint® 1 Creating Your Best Work in Microsoft® PowerPoint® 2 Details You Should Know 4 Submitting Your Microsoft® PowerPoint® File 5

Using Microsoft® PowerPoint

Microsoft® PowerPoint® software is widely used in business and education to create slides to accompany live presentations. Microsoft® PowerPoint® files contain slides that are presented sequentially, most often by means of a computer running the software connected to a projector. Microsoft® PowerPoint® is the software used to create slides, organize them into a slideshow, and present them.

* When used in a live presentation, the presenter uses the mouse button, the spacebar, or the arrow keys to advance to the next slide.

* To help make the slides more interesting, Microsoft® PowerPoint® provides a number of visual styles and themes so that all slides can have a similar look.

* Each theme or style accommodates a number of slide types in the form of empty slide templates, which may then be populated with content. Among the many templates are title slides, bullet-point slides, slides with spaces for images, and so on.

* In addition, the creator can control transitions between slides and other simple animations, such as having bullet points appear one at a time instead of all at once.

* Space is provided in the presentation file—not visible to viewers—where presentation or speaker notes can be stored for the presenter to refer to as he or she is presenting. Because Online Campus students cannot usually give their presentations to the class, speaker notes are often required as part of online students’ submissions in lieu of actually giving the presentation. (See Creating Your Best Work in Microsoft® PowerPoint® below.)

* Additional media, such as images, sounds, and video clips, may also be inserted into slides as part of the presentation.

* Audio files can be inserted with presentations, and slide transitions can be timed to the audio file to make it independent of a live presenter.

Microsoft® PowerPoint® Software Tips and Tricks

* As you work with Microsoft® PowerPoint® to build your slideshow, review your work regularly to make sure it looks and works like you intend it to. Become familiar with the Slide Show mode and use it to view your presentation file often to see what it will look like to viewers.

* Save your work often—every 5 minutes or so. If a file becomes corrupted, or if your computer crashes, you will only have the last 5 minutes of work to re-create.

* Take advantage of the built-in templates and styles provided by Microsoft to make your presentation look professional.

* Be consistent in the use of slide transitions and other animation features in Microsoft® PowerPoint®. Inconsistency in transitions and the display of information can distract from the content of your slides.

Help with Microsoft® PowerPoint®

For help in using Microsoft® PowerPoint®, click the Help tab in the University of Phoenix eCampus website and search for the keywords PowerPoint helps.

You may get additional help using Microsoft® PowerPoint® by clicking the Help or Question Mark button located in the upper left corner of the Microsoft® PowerPoint® window (Microsoft® Windows®) or pull down the Help menu and select PowerPoint Help (Apple® Macintosh®).

Creating Your Best Work in Microsoft® PowerPoint®

Simply placing content into a Microsoft® PowerPoint® presentation does not guarantee quality. Like any form of communication media, Microsoft® PowerPoint® presentations can be of high- or low-quality, depending on knowledgeable use of the software and its purpose. The tips and suggestions in this section will help you create a high-quality Microsoft® PowerPoint® presentation file. These are provided as a guide to help create your best work, rather than as an inflexible set of rules.

Before You Use Microsoft® PowerPoint®

To save time and to ensure the highest quality, organize your work in an outline before building your presentation. In your outline, decide in advance how you will divide your content into slides to convey your message, as well as what other text will appear on each slide.

The outline view in Microsoft® Word can be used for this purpose. Use level 1 of the outline for the slides, level 2 for bullet points and other content on the slides, and levels 3 and beyond for information that is subsidiary to the bullet points. This outline can then be saved and imported directly into Microsoft® PowerPoint®, giving you a head start on building your presentation.

Best Use of Microsoft® PowerPoint®

Microsoft® PowerPoint® users often forget that they, the presenters, are the most important part of their presentations, and that the slides are only there to support them as presenters. (This is true, even if you are submitting the Microsoft® PowerPoint® presentation file as an assignment without the benefit of actually presenting it to a live audience.)

With this in mind, here are some tips that will improve your Microsoft® PowerPoint® presentations:

* Be concise. Unless you are quoting someone, paragraphs and complete sentences that end in periods are NOT appropriate in slides, although they are appropriate in speaker notes (see below). Instead, your points should be stated as briefly and simply as possible, starting with a bullet (the round punctuation found at the beginning of this paragraph) and generally as incomplete sentences without periods at the end.

* Be bold. Use large font sizes. One thing that will help you keep your text concise is to never use a font size smaller than 36 points on a slide (30 points if space is constrained).

* Avoid long texts. A slide should not be used to display long texts. Generally speaking, if an on-screen text is so long that it requires you to impose on other screen elements—such as margins and titles—or to use a font size smaller than 30 points to get it to fit, it is too long. Cut it down or deliver it in a handout instead.

* Limit the number of bullets. The number of bullet points on a screen should not generally exceed what can be taken in at a glance. One good rule of thumb is to follow the seven plus-or-minus two rule and keep the number of bullet points less than nine (though fewer than five is OK.)

* Avoid decorative images. Avoid using graphic images for merely decorative purposes. Instead, use graphics that support or enhance your message. The old adage “a picture is worth a thousand words” is only partly true. The right picture is worth a thousand words; the wrong picture may take you a thousand words to explain!

* Be consistent. Be consistent in the use of fonts, colors, and other screen elements. Use only one font (typeface) throughout your presentation, although it is okay to use one font type for titles and another for the body text. Use the same color scheme throughout your presentation. Place other screen elements (titles, margins, dividers, page numbers, footers, and so on) in the same places and in the same styles on every slide. Consistency of style helps the reader follow your message without distraction.

Speaker Notes

Because Online Campus students will not have opportunities to present using their Microsoft® PowerPoint® presentations, they are often asked to provide “extensive” or “detailed” speaker notes. (Some colleges require speaker notes of on-ground students, as well.)

Speaker notes should accompany each slide in your presentation and be written or pasted into the Speaker Notes section for that slide.

For university purposes, the speaker notes should be more than the brief notes you might jot down for yourself when presenting. Although they do not need contain your complete presentation as you would have delivered it, verbatim, they should be complete enough that any reasonable person could read your speaker notes, look at your slides, and understand your presentation completely.

Speaker notes should be written as complete sentences with proper punctuation and organized into paragraphs. The principal differences between extensive speaker notes and a regular paper are that, for speaker notes, the slides form the major organizational structure, and the tone in which they are written can be more conversational.

APA References and Sources

Two kinds of information go into Microsoft® PowerPoint® presentations. One is directly related to the content of the presentation itself; the other refers to incidentals used in the presentation file’s construction, such as pictures or sound effects. Unless you created them yourself, both kinds need to be cited in your presentation—on a slide dedicated to that purpose near the end of your presentation. Both should use APA formatting, although APA formatting is most vital for the content-oriented citation.

Example:

Incidentals should be cited on your citation slide by numbering them where they are used and on the citation page, or by briefly referencing them in the citation (“The picture of ducks on slide 12:”) followed by as much descriptive citation as you can find.

Please use the University Library as your preferred source for incidental materials and avoid the use of copyrighted materials.

Details You Should Know

Supported File Formats

Microsoft® PowerPoint® files end with “.ppt” (for the 2003 version and earlier) or “.pptx” (for the 2007 version and later). Unless stated otherwise, all submissions should be saved and submitted in the older 2003 “.ppt” version format. If you are using Microsoft® PowerPoint® 2007 or later, you may need to use the Save As… function to save your presentation in the older format.

For information about file size restrictions and ways to reduce the size of submissions, please click the Help tab in eCampus and search for the keywords submission limitations.

Reducing the Size of Microsoft® PowerPoint® Files

As with all files submitted in course forums, the file size should be smaller than 10 MB. If the file is too large, there may be several ways you can reduce the size, mostly in the media that has been added to the Microsoft® PowerPoint® file. As a general rule, video requires 100s of times the space needed for audio; audio require 100s of times the space needed for images, and images can require 100s of times the space needed for text. If you have an oversized Microsoft® PowerPoint® file, consider reducing the size of the video first, the audio second, and pictures third.

* Remove unnecessary media: Consider removing video, audio, or images that are not directly related to the content of your presentation, such as pictures that are only decorative in nature or transition sounds.

* Reduce the size of video clips: You can reduce the size of video by shortening its length or leaving it out altogether. If you have access to video editing software, you can also reduce the size of video by using higher compression, lower frame rates, and reduced resolution.

* Reduce the size of audio clips: First, consider whether you can shorten the audio’s length or leave it out altogether. If you have audio editing software, you can also reduce the size of an audio file by reducing its bit rate or by increasing compression. Highly compressed audio can sound tinny (like you are listening over a telephone), but that level of compression is often adequate for most purposes.

* Reduce image resolution: You can reduce the size of most images by making sure they have only as much resolution as they need to have. Most screens are capable of displaying 1440 × 900 pixels or less. That means that if you have images with a higher resolution than that, it is wasted resolution. Use a graphics program, such as Microsoft® Paint, to reduce the resolution of large images.

Submitting Your Microsoft® PowerPoint® File

Where to Upload Files to the Facilitator

Unless directed otherwise by your instructor, submit your Microsoft® PowerPoint® presentation file by attaching it to a comment in the Main forum, under the heading indicated in your syllabus for the course. If you submitting a Microsoft® PowerPoint® presentation on behalf of a team, include the names of all team members somewhere in your submission, as directed.

Resubmissions

Sometimes the wrong version of a file is accidentally submitted to the facilitator, or a mistake is discovered after you have already submitted the file. Check with facilitators to find out if they allow for resubmissions in some circumstances. If you need to resubmit a Microsoft® PowerPoint® presentation file, contact facilitators to find out their policies and to let them know which file is the final version to be graded.

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