Basic PowerPoint Animation Basics

PowerPoint icon

A PowerPoint slide-deck is a speaker’s aid, used as a backdrop to the presenter, and as such should not often be the focus of audience attention. (After all, if you’re at a Broadway show and your focus is on the flats, I’d guess it is not a very compelling play.) But at times it is important to focus the eyes of your audience on the slide, or even on a particular portion of the slide. That’s when it is time for an Animation. Continue reading “Basic PowerPoint Animation Basics”

Getting Loopy with PowerPoint 2013


If your classes go anything like my workshops do, then you seldom start right on time. I always hate “wasting time” out of my scheduled class time, and wish I could do something to make that time more useful.

I’d really like to have something like the pre-previews content that movie theaters run; you know, the stuff with trivia games, ads, and the like that play before the house lights dim. There’s always an array of things to tell my learners about, and having that showing on the classroom projector while I do other things until class starts seems ideal.

PowerPoint to the rescue!

If you prepare a series of informational slides (when the next exam is, when the drop deadline is, what sort of cookies you prefer, etc.) it is possible to configure your slides to automatically advance, and when the end of the presentation hits, to loop around and play them all again. The two key elements are “Transitions” and “Loop Continuously.”

  1. First, make sure you don’t have any animations that are set to run “On Click.” If you do, those animations will not trigger.
  2. Next, for each slide, decide how long you want it to display on the screen.
  3. Move to the first slide, and click the Transitions tab.
    Transitions AdvanceSlide
  4. At the right side of the ribbon, in the “Advance Slide” area, uncheck “On Mouse Click”, check “After:” and set the time. That is minutes, seconds, and fractions of a second, so if you want the slide there for 15 seconds it must be set to 00:15.00.
  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 on each slide of your presentation. Each may have a completely different time set.
  6. Next, go to the Slideshow tab, and click the “Set Up Slide Show” button near the left of the ribbon.
    Set Up Slideshow
  7. On the “Set Up Show” dialog, check the box for “Loop continuously until ‘Esc'”, and be sure the “Advance slides” control is set to “Using timings, if present.” That way, all those times you set will actually be used.
    Set Up Show Dialog
  8. Now you can save your show, as you normally would, in the PPTX format.

Technically you’re all done now (although you’ll want to test things BEFORE going into the classroom). But to trigger your presentation, all you need to do is right-click the PPTX file, and choose “Show” on the context menu. That should cause your presentation to open immediately into the slideshow mode, so all you would need to do then is sit back, and watch your presentation run itself.

PPTX Menu ShowNow, if you’re the type who wants to use animations, even in these slides, that can be done. The trick is to make sure all your animations are set to “With previous” or “After previous,” and that none use “On Click.” Of course, the more complex your animations, the more you’ll want to test and be sure everything works as expected.

So there you have it: Self presenting slides. My plan is to start such a presentation Showing a few minutes prior to my next in-person session, and see if anyone pays attention. When you give it a try, let me know how your experience goes!


How to Embed YouTube Video in PowerPoint 2013


Regular users of PowerPoint have by now noticed that the tool adding YouTube embed code to a PowerPoint 2013 (and 2010) slide has disappeared.  It is no longer possible to simply grab the code, click Insert > Video > Online Video, and paste it in.  The why of it is a bit mysterious, but the trouble started when Google updated their YouTube API from ver. 2 to 3, and only became worse over time as Google and Microsoft have had public disagreements. Whatever the causes, the tool that stopped working in PowerPoint has now, with the latest Office updates, been removed.  Unfortunately, this is still the number one thing that most people, at least in an academic setting, want to do in PowerPoint.  So here is the fix:  There is an old fashioned way that still works to get the YouTube player embedded on a PowrPoint slide.  It’s a bit complex, but if you want to do it badly enough, here is the way.

First, modify the ribbon to add the Developer tab.  (I may have lost a good deal of my audience at the mention of “modify the ribbon” but if you are still with me…)  Open a presentation and click the File tab.  Click on Options, then Customize Ribbon.  Place a check next to Developer in the main tabs box, and then return to normal view.  You will now have a DEVELOPER tab on the ribbon.

Add Developer Tab

On the Developer tab click the More Controls command in the Controls group.

More Controls

Scroll down the More Controls dialog box and select Shockwave Flash Object, then click OK.

Shockwave Flash Object

The dominant way, to this day, of playing a YouTube video is as a Flash file so be sure the Flash player is installed on the computer you will be using to present, as it almost certainly will be.

Once you click OK in the dialog box illustrated above, your cursor will turn to a cross-hair.  Hold down the mouse button and draw a rectangle.  When you release the mouse button the rectangle will appear with an X in it.

Before we proceed, the question naturally arises, how large a rectangle should be drawn?  What dimensions will accomodate the video without distortion?

Generally (especially if you are in a hurry) any approximately 16:9 aspect ratio box will work, and the video will scale to fit, unless it is just too small.  If it is drawn too small in one dimension, however, the video may be clipped.  Here is what I do to guarantee the proper dimensions.

Draw the rectangle then, with it selected click the Drawing Tools tab.  Using the Size command size the rectangle to an exact 16:9 aspect ratio.  Since I use a high resolution screen, my slide sizes are by default 13.33″ x 7.5″, also a 16:9 perspective (the new default in PowerPoint 2013).  I want the video to look inserted on the slide, rather than being full-slide size, so I make my size 10″ x 5.63 inches, another 16:9 perspective.  It is easy to go from pixels to inches by using a converter like Pixelyzer, and to make sure I am using 16:9 a  calculator like the 16:9 Aspect Ratio calculator.  Of course these numbers may vary depending on your own screen resolution, default slide sizes, and aspect ratio of the video, though the default YouTube player will always be a 16:9 rectangle, with controls, even when the video was originally recorded as an old 4:3 standard.  As I say, these technicalities are only for those who really care about rendering the video in exactly the correct aspect ratio.  A rough and ready rectangle will work fine as long as it is not too large or small.  To make this easy for future embeds, I have created a piece of artwork with a 16:9 target for drawing my Flash Objects, and insert it on the slide prior to the video.


Once you create a template like this, with the correct sized rectangle in its correct aspect ratio, all you need to do is draw your rectangle to match the one in the template.

In any event, the next step is to get the URL for the video you want to embed from the YouTube site.  Do not use the Share URL, but get the URL from the address bar.

Copy that URL, then right click the X in the rectangle you have drawn for the Shockwave Flash Object.  Select Property Sheet from the context menu.

Property Sheet

In the resulting Properties dialog, click in the blank field next to Movie, and paste in the URL from the YouTube address bar.  It will look something like this:

Pasted Address

Now, here is the trick to getting it to work.  Delete from this address the word “watch” followed by the question mark.  Leave the “v”.  Delete the “=” and replace it with a slash (/) so that the address looks like this:

Modified Address

Then close the Properties box.  That’s it.

To recap, change like this:


To see the video play you will have to go to slide show view (or the new reading view).  You may have to click the object, and go back and forth between reading and normal view a couple of times to see it size correctly, but it will.  Now you have an embedded YouTube video in the fully functional (except for the full screen control) YouTube player.

Why Not Just Download the Video?

I can hear it now.  That’s a lot of work.  Why not just download the video from YouTube, or capture it with a program like Camtasia, and then insert it the normal way as a file on your PowerPoint slide?

Because it is a violation of the YouTube terms of use to do so.  I suppose most people do not read the terms of use, but they explicitly say:

“By using or visiting the YouTube website or any YouTube products, software, data feeds, and services provided to you on, from, or through the YouTube website (collectively the “Service”) you signify your agreement to (1) these terms and conditions…” (Sec. 1A)


“You agree not to distribute in any medium any part of the Service or the Content without YouTube’s prior written authorization, unless YouTube makes available the means for such distribution through functionality offered by the Service (such as the Embeddable Player).” (Sec. 4A)

and finally,

“You may access Content for your information and personal use solely as intended through the provided functionality of the Service and as permitted under these Terms of Service. You shall not download any Content unless you see a “download” or similar link displayed by YouTube on the Service for that Content.” (Sec. 5B).

The Terms are at

Now, I know there a bunches of browser helper apps that make downloading YouTube videos easy, and simply capturing the video in Camtasia is just a bit more work, but since you have already agreed not to do so, I think you should stick with the agreement, or else write to Google to obtain permission, as the Terms suggest.

So even though Microsoft and Google are having their difficulties, and in effect disabling parts of their products that use the other company’s technologies, there is still a workaround that will work while remaining legal, since you are embedding the full YouTube player on your PowerPoint slide.  If this strikes you as just too much work to achieve the desired end, then you can always simply link out from the slide to the YouTube page by using the Insert > Hyperlink tool.

PowerPoint 2013: Basic Slide Management

In this post I will cover six basic operations essential for managing your PowerPoint presentation:

  1. How to delete slides;
  2. How to hide slides;
  3. How to rearrange slides;
  4. How to import slides from one presentation to another;
  5. How to duplicate slides;
  6. How to create sections within a presentation.


To delete a slide or slides, select the slide(s) either in the thumbnail pane or in slide sorter view and press the delete key on your keyboard, or right-click your selection and choose Delete Slide.

Delete Slide

To select a contiguous range of slides, click on the first and then hold down the Shift key and click on the last in the range.  To select a non-contiguous group of slides, hold down the Ctrl key as you click on them.  To undo an action, like the inadvertent deletion of slides, press Ctrl-Z (hold down the Ctrl key and press Z).


A favorite technique of many presenters is to prepare slides that might be useful in answering questions after a presentation, but that will not appear in the presentation, and then hide them.  To hide a slide or group of selected slides right-click the slide or selection and choose Hide in thumbnail or slide sorter view.  Hidden slides will appear greyed out, with a diagonal line through their slide number.  They will not appear as you proceed through your presentation, but can be accessed through the slide presenter view.

Hide Slide

To unhide a slide, repeat the procedure.  There is not an “Unhide” command on the context menu, just click Hide Slide again to unhide a hidden slide.


It is easiest to rearrange slides in slide sorter view.  Select the slides you want to move and then simply drag them to their new location.  Nothing could be easier.


To import slides from another presentation into the presentation you are working on, click the drop-down under New Slide on the Home tab and choose Reuse Slides…

Reuse Slides

A Reuse Slides pane will open, with options to Open a Slide Library or Open a PowerPoint File.  Slide Libraries are only relevant if you have a Sharepoint installation.  Clicking Open a PowerPoint File will allow you to navigate to the file you want.  When it is opened thumbnails for each slide in the presentation will appear in the Reuse Slide pane.  Place the insertion point in your presentation where you want to insert slides, and then click on these thumbnails one at a time to insert them.  If you want to retain the original formatting from the slides you are inserting, check the Keep source formatting box at the bottom of the Reuse Slides pane.


Often if is easier to duplicate an existing slide (or slides) and then modify it, rather than creating a slide from scratch.  Duplicate slides by selecting a slide(s) in the Normal View thumbnail pane, clicking the Neww Slide drop-down on the Home tab, and choosing Duplicate Selected Slides.

Duplicate Slide

The shorcut for this is to select the thumbnail and press Ctrl-D.


Dividing your presentations into sections can make it easier to work on them and to rearrange them, especially if the presentation contains a significant number of slides.  Sections can be created by using the Section command on the Home tab, or by right-clicking a slide in the Normal View thumbnail pane or in Slide Sorter View, and using the context menu to Add Section.

Add Section

Inexplicably, Microsoft makes this a two-step procedure.  The new section is inserted as an Untitled Section.  You must then use the Section Command on the Home tab, or right-click the “Untitled Section” label and Rename Section in order to give it a descriptive name.

Rename Section

Once sections have been created, they can be expanded or collapsed, thus making it easier to work on a large presentation.  The section titles can be rearranged, just like individual slides, making it easy to move large groups of slides with a single drag-and-drop.

Here is a video summarizing these techniques.

PowerPoint 2013: Text Alignment and Direction

Text Alignment Logo x 200

In PowerPoint 2013 it is easier than ever to find the controls for text alignment and direction.  The secret is thinking of the text as an attribute of the shape that contains them (the placeholder, textbox or drawn shape), and then formatting that shape.

For example, to control the text alignment and direction of a typical bulleted item slide, click on the border around the bulleted items (it is dashed before selecting it and solid when selected).  Right-click the selected border, and from the context menu choose Format Shape.

Format Shape Context Menu

The Format Shape pane will open on the right of the screen.  Select Text Options.

Text Options

You will have three options, the first which controls text color and outline, the second that controls text effects (like shadow, reflection, glow, etc.) and the final, called Text Box, which controls text alignment, direction, autofit settings, shape margins, text wrap, and can be used to create text columns within the shape.

TextBox Controls

To control vertical alignment, click the drop-down after “Top” (the default).  To control text direction, click the drop-down next to Horizontal.  You may choose from rotate all text 90°; rotate all text 270°; and “Stacked.”  Stacked text looks like this:

Stacked Text

These controls will affect text in placeholders, textboxes, and text entered on drawn shapes.  They can also be used on text in SmartArt, if the individual shape, and not the overall piece of SmartArt, is selected.

The direction and alignment commands can also be found in the Paragraph command group on the Home tab.

Direction and Alignment Commands

Here is a summary video.

PowerPoint 2013: Slide Layouts


Before moving on to consider adding pictures and other graphics to slides, I would like to touch on a couple of basic concepts that I have not posted on before.  In this post I will review slide layouts.

Slide layouts are slides that have positioning placeholders on them that you can use to add content.  They may also contain content placeholders.  The number of layouts in your presentation will vary depending on the design theme you have chosen.  Some have as few as 11 (The Office them, for example) and some have as many as 17 (the Main Event theme).  You can also create custom slide layouts of your own—but that is a topic for a later post.  For now, just know that the slide layouts from which you are able to choose are based on the layout masters that you can see through Slide Master view, and can be modified there.

Layout Masters

There are three simple ways to change a slide from one layout to another:

1.  Select the slide and use the layout command on the Home tab:

Layout Tool

2.  Right-click the slide in the edit pane (outside any placeholder), hover over Layout, and select a new layout:

Layout Context Menu Edit Slide

3.  Right-click the slide thumbnail, hover over Layout, and select a new layout:

Thumbnail Context Menu

Here is a quick demo video: