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It’s a toss-up whether PowerPoint or Word benefits more from the introduction of the Ribbon and its associated interface changes. Microsoft’s presentation application has always offered a lot of pre-designed layouts, styles and colour-schemes and having each panel or menu drop down from the appropriate Ribbon makes flicking between choices very straightforward.
As an example of the increased ease of use, think about adding an AutoShape to a PowerPoint slide. In aPowerPoint 2003 you would click on the Insert menu and select Picture, AutoShape. This opens the AutoShape toolbar and each of the shape types have a drop-down menu from which you can select the particular shape you want.
In PowerPoint 2007, you click the Insert tab in the ribbon and then Shapes within the Illustrations group. All the available designs are visible immediately in one large pane, grouped by design. Click on the shape you want and it appears on your side, in keeping with the style selected for the presentation.
Added to the wonders of the Ribbon is Live Preview, which is well suited to show slide designs, transitions, fonts, colours and effects. Just hover your mouse cursor over the visual menu option you want to preview and the current slide shows the changes. Click to select and all slides in the current presentation take on the change.
As well as better control of shapes, both SmartArt and WordArt have been rewritten – and not before time. You can now produce well-structured and up-to-date organisational and list charts with all the fashionable bells and whistles in SmartArt. WordArt offers 30 pre-defined styles for text and none of them are as ugly as the ones it used to offer. You can separately control text outline, fill and effects, such as glow and embossing, making the tool much more versatile.
For those who have been subject to PowerPoint presentations at regular intervals, and journalists must be well up that list, the ability to run two screens in Presenter View should prevent the unseemly end of an otherwise slick presentation. Presenter View enables anyone using PowerPoint to display one thing on the presentation screen and quite another on a separate controlling screen. Not too hard to arrange, if you have a notebook connected to a projector and a good team presentation tool. This is a welcome addition as it always looks naff when a presenter has to revert to an unreconstructed PowerPoint editing screen to hand over to the next person.