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PowerPoint 2007: Free Templates

Another striking similarity between the two applications is in their use of predefined templates. PowerPoint offers a wide range of ‘looks', from the informally jaunty to the determinedly serious. If one of these will do for your own presentation, adopting the appropriate theme speeds the design up dramatically. Even if you only use a provided Theme as a basis and adapt it to your own needs, it's still a lot quicker than designing from scratch.

If you don't like any of the standard themes supplied with the package, don't forget many more are available free from Microsoft. There are over 40 business templates alone on offer there. Each template is not a single slide, but usually a set of slide masters, covering all the topics the presentation is likely to require. The sets may also include slides with space for other media and for multiple columns of text.
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In the centre of each new general-purpose slide you create (click on New Slide from the Slide section of the Home tab to see one) there are six, faded icons which look like a watermark to the slide. In fact, this is an icon-based, six-option menu for inserting media. There are options for table, chart, SmartArt, picture, clipart and media (actually movies). Click on any of the icons to call up the corresponding insert dialogue.

Although it's not a new feature, you can of course create a live link to, for example, an Excel spreadsheet, so that when changes are made to the data in the sheet, they are automatically reflected in the copy of it in your PowerPoint slide. This means that, as long as you can maintain the link to the source worksheet, your slide will always show current data.

In the same way that Word and Excel have new XML versions of their file formats, so PowerPoint creates .PPTX files, which are smaller and better structured than earlier .PPT files, due to their built-in ZIP compression. You may have to stick to .PPT files for compatibility, though, if you're working with people using PowerPoint 2003 or earlier. There are converters available from Microsoft for earlier versions of the application though.
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This video shows how to create House Style slides to make all your presentations instantly recognisable
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If you've ever been at a presentation where the presenter has to break into PowerPoint's editing screen to miss out slides or branch to an off-topic one, it nearly always looks unprofessional, but PowerPoint 2007 can handle dual screens, so it can show the editing screen, for example, on a laptop, while leaving a projector showing the main presentation. It's arguable that this should have been done long ago, but at least now the presenter can play around with the presentation without showing this to his/her audience.

You can download a free presentation viewer which will playback a PowerPoint 2007 presentation on a machine without PowerPoint installed. Run a Google search on ‘PowerPoint 2007 Viewer' to find the Microsoft download page.

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