1. A Tour of the User Interface

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Our quick tour will show you how to access commands in the ribbon, change view options and select the correct slide dimensions for your presentation.


User interface

The PowerPoint user interface is divided into three main areas:
- The ribbon, normally set to home
- The navigation pane, which shows what slides are in our presentation
- The view pane, where we design slides

Footer commands

- The slider allows you to adjust the zoom of the view pane.
- Minimise the notes section to increase the size of the view pane
- The slide-sorter view is great for changing the order of slides
- The slideshow view should be used when giving a presentation

Changing the dimensions of your page

- To avoid the black columns in slideshow view, change the page dimensions
- Go to Page Setup in the Design tab and change on-screen show

Keyboard shortcuts

ALT: Access keyboard shortcuts from the ribbon
F5: Start slideshow from first slide
SHIFT + F5: Start slideshow from current slide
Escape: Exit slideshow view


The PowerPoint user interface is quite complex, so before we start creating slides, let's spend this lesson exploring the various parts of the PowerPoint screen. When you first open PowerPoint, you'll be greeted with the blank document, such as this one. At the top of the page, you'll see a series of tabs, called the ribbon. The ribbon can be intimidating at the start because there are just so many commands to understand. But normally, when we're designing slides, we'll have the tab set to Home.

Many of the commands in the PowerPoint ribbon can be accessed using keyboard shortcuts. For example, Alt + H brings up all of the shortcuts available in the Home tab. And Alt + R brings up all of the shortcuts available in the Review tab. To complete the keyboard shortcut, simply press the key next to the desired command. I'll press C to insert a new comment.

In both Word and Excel, it's much faster to use keyboard shortcuts, because both of your hands stay on the keyboard at all times, and repeatedly reaching for the mouse can slow you down a lot. In PowerPoint, however, you tend to have one hand on the mouse most of the time, so keyboard shortcuts are not nearly as efficient. As a result, I tend to use the mouse when accessing commands in the ribbon. Below the ribbon, on the left-hand side of the page, is the navigation pane. The navigation pane tells us what slides are currently in our presentation, and in what order. If I was to add a new slide to the presentation, by going to the Home tab and clicking on this button, you'll now see it appear in the navigation pane. Next to the navigation pane, we have the view pane, which is where we get our work done. If you would like to change the view pane, we can use this slider in the footer. Slide it to the right to increase the zoom, and slide it to the left to decrease the zoom.

I like to see the whole slide when I'm designing pages, so I'm going to set the pane to fit to window, here on the right-hand side.

Below the view pane, is the notes section. If you'd like to add speaking notes for a slide or record some additional information such as appendices, the notes section can be useful. However, notes take up valuable space away from the view pane, so when I'm designing slides, I tend to minimize it.

To the left of the slider in the footer, we have a number of additional view options. To see these in action, let's first add some text to our two slides. Click in the placeholder, and start typing.

And we'll move the second slide, and add some text here as well.

Let's first look at the slide sorter view, by clicking on the icon with the four squares. This view is a great option when you have to rearrange slides in a large presentation. To change the order of slides and move their position, simply click and drag.

This obviously becomes more useful the more slides you have. Let's add a couple of blank slides, and you can see how easy it is to quickly change the order in which they appear.

Next, we'll look at the slideshow view, which maximizes the view pane on the screen. The slideshow view is used when you're presenting to an audience.

Let's press Escape to leave the slideshow view, and click on the far left icon to return to the normal view.

There are a number of other views available on PowerPoint, outside of the two just shown, but I find the slide sorter view and the slideshow view are by far the most useful. The slideshow view wraps up our tour of the PowerPoint user interface. We are now ready to customize the user interface, with the quick access toolbar, in the next lesson.