Manually Formatting Text Appearance

Manually Formatting Text Appearance

While PowerPoint's automatic formatting options help with the grunt work of formatting the text on your slides, you should do some of the formatting yourself. After all, the program has no way of knowing which words or phrases you want to emphasizewhich, when you get right down to it, is what formatting is all about. PowerPoint conveniently displays all of its text formatting options on the Home tab (Figure). A handful of the most commonly used formats also appear when you right-click text or when you select it, as shown in Figure.

Figure 3-6. The handiest way to deal with a ton of text is to wait until it overflows your text box and take one of PowerPoint's AutoFit suggestions. But if you're the impatient typeor if you know you're going to be adding a lot of text and want to resize the text box sooner rather than laterthen the Format Text Effects dialog box, shown here, offers some of the same AutoFit options.

Note: If you're the kind of person who simply can't stand pop-ups, you can turn off the Mini Toolbar. To do so, select Office button PowerPoint Options and then, in the PowerPoint Options window that appears, select Popular and turn off the "Show Mini Toolbar on selection" checkbox.

Figure. Most of PowerPoint's text formatting options appear on the Home tab.

Figure. As soon as you right-click or select text, PowerPoint pops up the semi-transparent, or ghosted, Mini Toolbar shown here. Mouse over the Mini Toolbar and it becomes active, giving you a quick way to apply the most common formatting options (bold, italics, and so on).

Using the options you find on the Home tab, you can format individual characters and words by changing their color, font size, font, underlining, shadowing, and so on. You can format paragraphs by indenting them, turning them into bulleted or numbered lists, and by applying effects to them, such as rotating them or turning them into diagrams. The following sections show you how.

Changing the Font

PowerPoint's fonts (what printers used to call typefaces) determine how text looks: spidery, staid, clunky, old-fashioned, funky, and so on. Arial, Helvetica, and Times Roman are three common fonts, although PowerPoint offers a lot more than that. (The actual number of fonts you can apply to your text in PowerPoint depends on how many fonts you have installed on your computer. For more information, see the box in Section 3.2.1.)

Troubleshooting Fonts

Can using exotic fonts cause problems in PowerPoint?

Yes. Say you create a presentation using the SuperFancy font you downloaded from the Web and installed on your computer. You copy your presentation to your laptop and hop on a plane. When you arrive at your client's office, ready to give your spiel, you discover that the text of your presentation appears totally different from the way you created it. The problem? You forgot to install SuperFancy on your laptop, so PowerPoint substituted a system font (one of the factory-installed fonts that come with all operating systems). To avoid this problem, you've got two choices:

  • Use a standard font such as Arial, Times New Roman, or Courier New.

    These fonts are pretty run-of-the-mill, it's true, but they're 99.9 percent likely to be installed on every computerand at least you're the one choosing them (and not PowerPoint).

  • Embed your special font directly into your PowerPoint presentation. This option lets your audience see exactly what you intended them to see. On the downside, embedding swells the size of your PowerPoint presentation, which becomes an issue if you intend to deliver it over the Web, and may cause problems in older versions of the program. Chapter 7 (Section 7.7.5) shows you how to embed a font.

To change the font:

  1. Click in a text box.

    The Drawing Tools | Format contextual tab appears, and PowerPoint activates the formatting options on the Home tab.

  2. Select the characters you want to format.

    The characters appear highlighted, and you see a ghosted Mini Toolbar.

  3. Choose Font, either in the Home Font group or from the Mini Toolbar.

    A list of fonts similar to the one you see in Figure appears.

  4. Select a font.

    PowerPoint automatically reformats the selected text.

Figure. PowerPoint doesn't raise a fuss if you choose a different font for every single character on your slide, but you should stick with one or two fonts per presentation (unless you like the ransom note look). Out of the box, the program assumes you want to use the Calibri font.

Note: Although they're common in the print world, serif fonts (fonts with fancy little feet on the letters) tend to be harder to read on computer screens than sans-serif (literally, "without serif") fonts. Sans-serif fontslike Calibrilook clearer onscreen.

Changing Font Size

PowerPoint gives you two different ways to change the size of your font: You can increase or decrease your font by choosing from a list, or you can type a specific font size (such as 38). If you're like most folks, you'll want to increase or decrease your font size, eyeball the result, and repeat until you achieve the look you want. But when you need to match the font size on one slide to the size on another, the quickest approach is to specify the number directly using the drop-down menu shown in Figure.

Figure. If you don't see the particular font size you're looking for, no problem. Instead of clicking the arrow next to the Font box, click the displayed font (here, 18), type your own font size, and press Return. PowerPoint obediently applies any size you specify, from ridiculously small (1) to ridiculously large (999).

Tip: Have pity on the folks in the back row (or, if you'll be delivering your slideshow over the Web, the folks with small monitors) and keep your font size as large as possible. A quick way to tell if your font's big enough is to print out a slide and drop it face-up on the floor. If you're standing over it and can't read it easily, your font is too small.

To change font size:

  1. Click in a text box.

    The Drawing Tools | Format context tab pops up, and PowerPoint activates the formatting options on the Home tab.

  2. Select the characters you want to format.

    The characters appear highlighted, and the Mini Toolbar appears.

  3. In either the Home Font group or on the Mini Toolbar, choose a font size option.

    You have three choices:

    • Increase font size. Clicking this option (the one with the "A" followed by the up-arrow) bumps up the font size to the next-highest size on the list.

    • Decrease font size. Clicking this option (the "A" followed by the down-arrow) shrinks font size to the next-lowest size on the list.

    • Font size menu. Clicking this option (a drop-down box displaying a number) shows the list you see in Figure, from which you can choose the precise font size you want. Rolling your mouse over the list shows you immediately, right on the slide, what your text looks like in each font. When you find the size you want, click it to apply the previewed changes to your slide.

The New Font Dialog Box

The Font dialog box offers a one-stop shop for all font-related settings described in this chapter: font and size, bolding and underlining, coloring and shadowing, superscripting and subscripting, and more.

Using the Font dialog box saves you time if you're used to using it in older versions of PowerPoint, or if you want to make a bunch of font changes all at once.

To display the Font dialog box, either click the Font dialog launcher (the little down-arrow in the bottom right corner of the Home tab's Font section, as shown in Figure) or right-click in a text box and then, from the context menu that appears, choose Font.

To use the Font dialog box to change an underline from a solid to a dashed one, click the Font tab, and then choose the dashed style you want from the "Underline style" drop-down box. To change the color of an underline, from the Font tab, head to the "Underline color" drop-down box and choose a color.

Bolding, Italicizing, and Underlining Text

Three of the easiest and most common ways to draw attention to text are to bold, italicize, or underline the text (Figure). These effects look and behave pretty much the same in PowerPoint as they do in most word-processing programs, including Microsoft Word.

Figure. Whether you choose them from the Home tab or the Mini Toolbar, Bold and Italicize are toggle options. Click once to apply them, and click the same option again to remove them. Although these basic formatting effects are among the oldest known to humankind, they're also the most effectiveas long as you use them sparingly.

To bold, italicize, or underline text:

  1. Click in a text box.

    The Drawing Tools | Format contextual tab pops up, and PowerPoint activates the formatting options on the Home tab.

  2. Select the characters you want to format.

    The characters appear highlighted, and the Mini Toolbar appears.

  3. Choose one or more of the formatting options in the Home Font group or from the Mini Toolbar: Bold, Italicize, or Underline. (The Underline option isn't available on the Mini Toolbar.)

Tip: If you prefer keyboard shortcuts, after you've selected the text you want to format, you can press Ctrl+B (to make it bold), Ctrl+I (to italicize it), or Ctrl+U (to underline it). Pressing the same two keys again removes the effect.

Changing Text Color and Background Color

PowerPoint lets you change the color of your text (and its background) from basic black to puce, chartreuse, chocolate mousse, or any other hue you come up with. You can color all of it, just a word or two for emphasis, or change the background color of the text box. You can also apply a gradient effect that makes your text look as though a light's shining on it (the following section shows you how).

Note: Color's a moot point if you intend to fax or print your presentation on a black-and-white printer. In that case, you want to make sure your slides look good in grayscale, which you do by choosing View Color/Grayscale Grayscale. Because grayscale adds shades of gray to plain black-and-white, it's the best way to print a non-colored version of a color presentation.

To change text and text background color:

  1. Click in a text box.

    The Drawing Tools | Format context tab pops up, and PowerPoint activates the formatting options on the Home tab.

  2. Select the characters you want to format.

    The characters appear highlighted, and the Mini Toolbar appears.

  3. Click the drop-down arrow next to the Font Color icon that appears in the Mini Toolbar or in the Home Font group.

    The color picker you see in Figure appears.

    Figure. Here, you see the basic color picker that appears when you choose Font Color from the Mini Toolbar, or when you select Font from the Font section of the Home tab. Most of the time, these basic options are all you need. But if you like, you can apply a special text effect, as described below.

  4. Choose a color from either the Theme or Standard sections of the color picker.

    Choosing a color from the Theme section makes sure the color of your text coordinates attractively with the other colors in your theme, like the background color of your slide. If you choose a color from the Standard section, there's no guarantee it will look good with the other elements on your slide.

Adding Special Text Effects

In addition to basic bolding, italicizing, and underlining, you can add all kinds of special effects to your text, as you can see in Figure. You find the special effects options on the Font and WordArt Styles sections of the Home tab.

To add a special effect to your text, simply select the text, and then click the effect on the ribbon.

  • Add a superscript or subscript. If your presentation covers chemistry or some other scientific field, you'll need to subscript and superscript characters (think H2O). On the Home tab, click the Font dialog launcher and then, in the Font dialog box that appears, make sure the Font tab is selected and then turn on the checkbox next to Superscript or Subscript.

  • Add a shadow. Select Home Font Text Shadow. When you do, PowerPoint automatically adds a shadow to your text. For a more sophisticated shadow effect, right-click your selection, choose Format Text Effects, and then, in the Format Text Effects dialog box that appears, click Shadow (see Figure). Click Presets to choose from a handful of standard shadows; then, if you want, you can use the other options to tweak the standard shadow.

    Figure. Special text effects like these can add zing to your presentationas long as you use them sparingly and remember not to sacrifice readability for coolness.

  • Change text case. You can tell PowerPoint to format the case of your text automatically, which is useful for fixing capitalization goofs. Click Home Font Change Case (the "AAa" button). From the menu that appears, choose one of the following: "Sentence case" (uppercases the first word of each line and adds a period after last word); "lowercase" (changes all characters to lowercase), UPPERCASE (changes all characters to uppercase); Capitalize Each Word (uppercases first letter of each word); or "tOGGLE cASE" (reverses the existing capitalization). This last option is rarely useful unless you just typed in a bunch of text with the caps lock key on by mistake).

  • Apply a pre-crafted effect (Quick Style). The Quick Styles section of the Home tab offers a gallery of text effects including outlined fonts, glows, and reflections. To see them all, click the down arrow next to the Quick Styles option. The result is the full gallery of effects shown in Figure 3-15. Clicking an effect applies it directly to your text.

  • Add a beveled (3-D) effect. To get the most out of applying a 3-D effect, make sure your text is large and blocky. 3-D doesn't do much for skinny, light-colored characters. Then go to Home Drawing Quick Styles Text Effects Bevel and, from the gallery that appears, click to choose a bevel option.

    Figure. Shadows tend to make skinny fonts unreadable, but they can effectively draw attention to short headings displayed in plump, bold fonts. Click Presets to choose from a gallery of attractive, predesigned shadow options; then click Size, Angle, Distance, or any of the other options shown here to customize the predesigned look.

  • Add a 3-D rotation effect. Another effect that looks better applied to shapes than to text, the 3-D rotation effect reformats your text in 3-D form and then slants it based on the perspective you choose. On the Drawing section of the Home tab, select Shape Effects 3-D Rotation and then, from the gallery that appears, click to choose the option you want.

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