Designing Self-Guided PowerPoint Presentations


Using PowerPoint Action Tools


Any object or text within PowerPoint can have a variety of actions associated with it. Typical actions include:

¥ Playing an animation, movie, or sound

¥ Moving to a specific slide in the presentation

¥ Opening another PowerPoint presentation

¥ Opening a document in another application

¥ Linking to a site on the internet.


Designing Presentations

! Make sure that the movement away from a given slide is obvious and possible. If the user doesnÕt know intuitively what to do when he or she is viewing a slide then it is bad design.

! People who do this a lot ALWAYS sketch out the slide sequence before they start. Often all or most of the slides are developed first then actions are attached to them later.


Making Action Buttons

With the slide on the screen to which you wish to add an action button:

1. From the Slide Show menu select Action Button.

               If you wish to use a pre-made button select the button of choice.

               If you wish to make a custom button select Custom (button with no graphic).

2. Click and drag to place the Action Button on the slide (you can resize and move it later).

3. When the Action Button dialog box appears select the appropriate action.

4. The usual action is Hyperlink. Click on the Hyperlink button and then use the down arrow at the end of the Hyperlink bar to show possible actions and to select one.

5. If you select Slide a dialog box will appear that lists all of the slides in the presentation.

6. Although the pre-made Action Buttons may solve your problem you can attach actions to ANY object which is placed on a PowerPoint slide.


Using Action Settings

Highlight text or object to which you wish to attach an action.

1. From the Slide Show menu select Action Settings.

2. This is the same dialog box that comes up when you are making an Action Button. Follow the above instructions.


Note: When text has a Hyperlink attached to it the text is automatically underlined. This underlining cannot be removed though the Text Format dialog box. To avoid this problem attach the action to the text box and not the text. Click once on the text to highlight it. Then click once more on the bounding box around the text. It will change shade. Now follow the Action settings rules above. Unfortunately, this currently doesnÕt work in the Mac version of PP so you have to solve the problem using transparent buttons. See the next section below.


Making areas of the screen active

Sometimes the easiest solution to making an area of the screen active is to place a transparent button over that area of the screen, do the following:

1. If the Drawing pallet is not showing on the screen select ViewÞToolbarsÞDrawing.

2. Click on the rectangle on the Drawing tool bar.

3. Position the cursor on the screen and click and drag to position the rectangle on the screen over the text. You can resize and reposition the rectangle after it has been drawn.

4. Make sure that the rectangle is highlighted and select Action Settings from the Slide Show menu. Apply the appropriate setting and close the dialog box.

5. Make sure the rectangle is highlighted and click on the down arrow on the Pencil tool on the Drawing palette. Select No Line.

6. Make sure the rectangle is highlighted and click on the down arrow on the Paint Bucket tool on the Drawing palette. Select No Fill.

7. The links are not active in the Normal View setting. You must switch to Slide Show.

8. BE SURE the transparent button is on top of all other objects. To check, highlight the transparent button, then on the Drawing Tools tool bar select the top (most left) icon and then Arrange and then Bring to Front.

Animating Objects in PowerPoint


Although it is possible to construct animations in PowerPoint that look like what we normally consider animation to be (giving life-like movement to inanimate objects) what is meant by animation in PowerPoint is making objects appear and disappear on the screen and controlling the manner in which the objects do this. Having a line of text float in from the right side of the screen is an example of animating text.


To control how an object enters the slide

1. Make an object and place it on the screen where you wish it to be after the entry animation is completed.

2. Select the object and from the Slide Show menu select Custom Animation (Animations and then Custom on a Mac).

3. Be sure the object you wish to animate is highlighted and then select Add Effect from the Custom Animation dialog box.

3a. On a Mac, on the right side of the dialog select the type of entry animation you wish to apply. You may also wish to attach sounds to the animation. For kids this is great but remember that adults easily tire of cute sounds attached to the animations.


To control how an object exits the slide.

4. In the same dialog box on the right side select the exit animation you wish to use.

5. Again you may attach a sound to the exit animation if you wish.


Note: The Windows version of PowerPoint currently allows for custom animation paths. This feature is not available on the current version of PP on the Mac.


To control order and timing of animations.

6. Inside of the Custom Animations dialog box (the same one in which you have been working) after you have assigned an animation to an object click on the down arrow on the right hand end of the animation listing (Effect Options button on a Mac). Notice that for each object each entry animation (green star-Windows; red arrow-Mac) and each exit animation (red star-Windows; blue arrow-Mac) is listed separately.

7. Change the order in which the animations occur by selecting the animation you wish to move and use the up and down arrows in the Animations dialog box.

8. To change how animations are triggered to appear select On Mouse Click (the animation will not begin until you click the mouse during the presentation), Start with Previous (both animations will begin at the same time or select Start After Previous (animations will appear sequentially).


Turning off Advance slide on Mouse click

PowerPoint is automatically set to advance to the next slide if you click the mouse button anywhere on the screen. You will probably want to turn this off if you are adding Action Buttons to your presentation. Go to the Slide Show menu and select Slide Transition. At the bottom of the window make sure that Advance Slide On Mouse Click does NOT have a check in front of it. Then click on Apply to All. If for some reason you do want the Advance on Mouse Click to be active for a few of the slides you will have to go to each slide and bring up the Slide Transition dialog box, change the setting to which ever preference you want and click on Apply instead of Apply to All.


Issues Related to Moving Presentations from One Computer to Another
(if you donÕt read this it is your own fault).


Always check your presentation on the computer on which it will be used BEFORE you show or have others use the presentation!



The only fonts that will almost always be on both a Windows machine and a Mac are Arial, Times New Roman, Courier and Symbol. If a computer does not recognize the font with which the original presentation was created the computer will choose a font it thinks is close, usually with disastrous results. Even if the computer does recognize the font it may display the text at a somewhat different size than on the computer used to construct the presentation. There are ways to embed a font into a presentation but they are complicated and donÕt always work quite like you would expect.


Moving from one PP version to another

Older presentations being used with newer versions of PP almost always work fine. Newer presentations shown with older versions of PP (older than 1997 on either platform) may not even open.  Even if they do open you are likely to have problems. If you know you must move to an older version of PowerPoint design the presentation in the simplest form possible (avoid transitions, actions and animations in the presentation).


Moving presentations across platforms

If you produce your presentation on a Mac in all likelihood it will work fine on a Windows based computer (assuming you were careful in font selection). In the other direction this is less likely to be true.  Each platform version of PP contains some features which are not on the other. For instance the Windows version of PP allows for animating object paths—the current Mac version does not. Although Microsoft swears that animated paths will display fine if you are using the newer versions of PP on the Mac my experience is that this is not always true.  An excellent web site where you can review cross-platform issues is:


!!!! The most important thing to do if you are moving presentations across platforms is to use the PP file extension (.ppt) in the file name even if you are saving this on a Mac which does not require file extensions.


More information

If you are having trouble or just want to show off some new effect you developed contact me at: