10 key enhancements in PowerPoint 2007

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Creating impressive slideshow presentations just got easier with Microsoft's latest version of PowerPoint. With a new interface, new templates, and new artwork and formatting options, PowerPoint 2007 makes it a no-brainer for you to give your presentations a polished, professional look and convey information in ways that grab and keep your audience's attention.

Let's take a look at some of the key enhancements and new ways of doing things in the new PowerPoint.

#1: The Ribbon interface

The new user interface that's common to the main Office 2007 programs has gotten all the attention -- and not all of it positive. It takes some getting used to, but many users who've given it a chance find it to be more intuitive and quicker to use than the old menu system.

The Ribbon uses tabs to group commands and features in logical, task-oriented categories. In PowerPoint 2007, in addition to the familiar Home, Insert, Review, View, and Add-ins tabs, which are common to other Office programs, you'll find tabs labeled Design, Animations, and Slideshow that are dedicated to those presentation elements, as shown in Figure A, Figure B, and Figure C.

Figure A: The Design tab allows you to choose page setup, themes and background.

Figure B: The Animations tab makes it easy to create animations and slide transitions.

Figure C: The Slide Show tab is used to set up and play the show and control monitor settings.

#2: The Quick Style gallery

The new Quick Style gallery, with new themes, helps you to put together professional-looking presentations much more quickly because you don't have to select colors and style options individually. Now you can be sure that your graphics elements, tables and charts all match. When you apply a new style or theme, all of these elements change so that they go together and use the same color set.

You can choose from many built-in color schemes, as shown in Figure D, or you can create your own custom themes.

Figure D: You can select from built-in color themes or create your own.
When creating a new custom theme, you can set colors for various components, as shown in Figure E.

Figure E: You can set colors for many elements when you create a custom theme.

The Quick Styles gallery changes to coordinate with whatever theme you've selected, too. That means that elements such as SmartArt graphics will be automatically color coordinated with the rest of the elements in the presentation.

#3: SmartArt

With PowerPoint 2003, you can insert WordArt or AutoShapes, but PowerPoint 2007 adds the concept of SmartArt. SmartArt graphics are visual representations of information and ideas that are color coordinated and preconstructed for common purposes, such as listing a number of components or subjects, showing hierarchical relationships, illustrating the steps of a process or procedure, creating a matrix, and so forth.

SmartArt graphics are easily added from the Insert tab, and as Figure F shows, you have dozens of graphics to pick from.

Figure F: SmartArt graphics help you dress up a presentation quickly and easily.

When you've inserted a SmartArt graphic, the Design tab opens and changes to provide options for editing the graphic you've selected. You can change colors or apply a 3D effect to the graphic by selecting from SmartArt Styles in a drop-down list, as shown in Figure G.

Figure G: SmartArt graphics can be edited to change colors or apply 3D effects.

#4: Better tables and charts

Tables and charts are important elements of many slide presentations, and PowerPoint 2007 makes it easier to create and edit them. It's simpler to cut and paste information from Excel spreadsheets, and adding a table or chart to a slide is a point-and-click operation that's done from the Insert tab.

There are also many more built-in chart styles, as shown in Figure H, and they're easier to select and work with.

Figure H: Selecting and working with charts is easier in PowerPoint 2007.

The new Table insertion tool makes it simple to highlight the columns and rows that you want your table to contain, as shown in Figure I.

Figure I: Columns and rows appear in your slide as you highlight boxes in the Table tool.

#5: Live preview

One of the coolest and most useful features of PowerPoint 2007 is the live preview feature. You can see how various color themes, fonts, and effects will look on the slide before selecting them.

For example, if you click the Colors down arrow in the Themes section of the Design tab, as you scroll through different themes, they are instantly displayed on the slide.

The same thing happens as you move your cursor over different fonts in the drop-down box shown in Figure J. The font instantly changes on the slide so you can see exactly what it will look like if you select that font.

Figure J: Fonts, colors and effects change instantly as you highlight them so you get a preview of exactly how they will look on the slide.

#6: Presenter view

Another new feature in PowerPoint 2007 is the ability to run the presentation on one monitor while the audience views it on a second monitor. In Presenter view, what you see on your monitor (for example, your laptop) and what the audience sees on the second monitor (for example, the projector screen) are different.

The audience sees only the slide itself. But you see the current slide along with your speaker notes and previews of the next several slides in sequence. You can click any of those slides to go to it instantly, and you can darken or lighten the audience screen without affecting your own.

To turn on Presenter view, you select the Slide Show tab, click Set Up Slide Show from the Set Up group, and select the Show Presenter View check box in the Set Up Show dialog box, as shown in Figure K.

Figure K: You can select Presenter view in the Set Up Show dialog box.

Figure L shows the Presenter view that appears on your monitor on the left and the slide that displays on the audience's screen on the right.

Figure L: Presenter view displays speaker notes and slide previews on your monitor and only the slide on the audience's screen.

#7: Smaller file size, better file format

Elaborate slide presentations can result in very large file sizes, especially if you use many graphics, embed video, etc. This may make it difficult to e-mail PowerPoint presentations to others because of mailbox limitations.

The new XML-based file format used by default in PowerPoint 2007 (.PPTX) reduces file sizes because the files are compressed. This makes them significantly smaller, sometimes up to 75 percent. XML-based files are also easier to recover if some elements in the file are corrupt or damaged.

If necessary for compatibility with older versions of PowerPoint, you can also save files in the PowerPoint 2003 (.PPT) format.

#8: Save as PDF or XPS

Now you can save PowerPoint presentations as PDF or XPS files. This makes it easier to share them with people who don't have PowerPoint or who are using non-Microsoft operating systems, because these are standardized formats that can be opened across platforms.

Saving in one of these fixed-layout formats also ensures that your presentation will stay exactly as you created it, since they can't easily be edited. It's also easy to print files saved in PDF or XPS, since "what you see is what you get" in terms of the layout.

To save PowerPoint 2007 presentations in PDF or XPS, you first need to download the free add-in from Microsoft. Once you install the add-in, just click Save As on the Office menu and select PDF from the Save As Types drop-down list.

#9: Remove hidden information

Office 2007 programs, including PowerPoint, benefit from the new Document Inspector feature that makes it easy for you to check your presentation to ensure that no hidden personal information or other metadata is contained in the file before you share it with others. Especially if the presentation has been through a review process, there could be comments, annotations, and so forth, still contained in the file but not immediately visible. You might not want others to be able to see your presentation notes or off-slide content, either.

To use the Document Inspector, select Prepare from the Office menu and then select Inspect Document, as shown in Figure M.

Figure M: You can inspect your presentation for hidden data before distributing it.

#10: Secure your presentation

Sometimes, the information we include in our PowerPoint presentations may be confidential. For example, you might have a slideshow prepared for company executives that contains trade secrets or financial information about the company. There are more ways than ever built into PowerPoint 2007 to help you protect sensitive information in a slide show:

  • You can add digital signatures to the PowerPoint file to authenticate the identity of its creator and to verify that the content hasn't been changed since it was signed.
  • You can encrypt the presentation.
  • In the Windows Rights Management Services environment, you can restrict permission so that users with whom you share the presentation can't copy, print, or edit it.

All of these security mechanisms can be invoked from the Office | Prepare menu.

Additional Office 2007 "10 things" resources


Debra Littlejohn Shinder, MCSE, MVP is a technology consultant, trainer, and writer who has authored a number of books on computer operating systems, networking, and security. Deb is a tech editor, developmental editor, and contributor to over 20 add...


Looking for more in-depth tips than what I can read on the MS Office website. PPT 2007 has some wacky quirks as well - how about writing notes on those. For example, what it does to bulleted lists when you copy them in from a 2003 PPT file.


While I am suspicious of it and admit I have not tried it, I may eventually end up liking the ribbon. What I think causes the most problems in accepting new features like this is the same problem we have when a new release comes out and capabilities we want are moved from one part of the menu to another. We are confused and there is no map that explains not simply where everything is, but why it is there. The features of a product can be organized in many different ways and one way is no better than another. But if there are logical relationships in how the features are grouped it makes it much easier for us to find them. With every new release the features are moved from one spot to another and we are never told what was in the designer's mind. What is the map of how things should be related? A developer, even a committee of developers has this map in their mind(s), why don't they share it with the customer? If I understood why the developer put things where they were, I could find things easier because I would have a hint about where they belonged. Without a design map the choices appear to be arbitrary and meaningless. I am sure there were good reasons for why the designers did it a particular way. Why don't they share these reasons with us? If they did, I could accept the new organization method much quicker, easier and I might even like it and praise the designer for a job well done instead of muttering "Where did they hide it this time."


I have been using the presenter view for some time in older versions of Powerpoint. It is thus not new for 2007.


Can I convert my presentation to a movie format with PowerPoint 2007?


Microsoft PowerPoint 2007 Key


Worked months with beta version and never did get used to the mapping logic. However, my biggest complaint is that the ribbon takes up so much vertical space. It becomes overpowering after a while. Problem is how am I going to try to train everyone so that they won't become fustrated. Learning curve is extremely high and that costs loss of time/money.


Can you tell me how to open up presenter view in older versions since I have never seen it or figured out how to do it?


I will keep these in mind when I get Vista. They should be very useful. But I would still like a description of the concept the designer had in mind. Some of the structure seems obvious, but my experience with previous releases says that the location of some of the features will not be so obvious.


Yes, this has been available since Office XP and it's fantastic. XP and 2003 were indentical. 2007 looks identical in setup although the presenter's screen has a different layout. It makes lecturing so much easier; you know which slide is next and can even adjust things on the fly (skip slides, etc.). You have to have a secondary screen connected for it to activate. Any modern laptop has the dual screen capacity. You plug in a secondary screen (data projector, large LCD panel, etc.) in the VGA socket on the laptop. Most laptops now have plug and play, so boot up the laptop first, then plug in the external monitor. If no plug and play, plug in the external monitor and turn it on before booting up the laptop. It should put the laptop screen as primary monitor and the other as a secondary monitor. If it's all modern gear, it should set the correct resolution etc. Right click desktop and select properties, settings. You should see two screens. Click on the secondary monitor and then check (I think that's what it says). Then start Powerpoint and it should run presenter's mode when you start a show. If not, select and then select . That's it. Run the show in presenter view. BTW, it is possible to make a 'VGA' dummy that makes the laptop think there is an external monitor connected. Use a VGA male plug (15 pins) with solder connections. Solder three 75 ohm resistors: 1. red (pin 1) --> 75 ohm resistor --> red return (pin 6) 2. green (pin 2) --> 75 ohm resistor --> green return (pin 7) 3. blue (pin 3) --> 75 ohm resistor --> blue return (pin 8) Add a couple of earth jumpers to pins 4 and 11 (this defines the dummy device as SVGA). I use this to set up my laptop without access to the lecture theatre data projector. Just uplug the dummy and plug in the projector's connection straight away. Hope this helps.


Almost anything you want to do in a specific situation is almost always one or two clicks away, so it's not so much an issue of changing where things are, it's an issue of making them immediately avilable and visible when you want to use them.


PPT2007 presenters view took one step forward and three big steps back. You can actually read the notes now. There is no "next up" window to let you see the next animation. Scrolling through animations and notes is much more difficult. Before pageup/page down ran the notes and arrows ran the annimations. Now you have to have the pointer on the pane, a real pain. You have never been able to printe notes that are substantial. They are shrunk to unreadable size and truncated. Also note enhancements are not displayed in Presenter View. You need these if you have a complicated presentation. This feature could be great but it needs lots of help. Thanks for the tip for the dummy monitor. Can you buy them?

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