Two PowerPoint 2013 user tips for working more efficiently

Improved smart guides and resume reading are two easy-to-use features in PowerPoint 2013.

PowerPoint 2013 has two new features that many users will love. The first lets you pick up where you left off in a presentation. (Word 2013 also has this feature.) The second displays guides, on the fly that make positioning objects easier. They first showed up in PowerPoint 2010, but they're even smarter in 2013. You've probably noticed both, but you might not be using them to your advantage!

Resume reading

Launching PowerPoint and then pulling up the slide where you last worked isn't a difficult task, but it can be tedious if your presentation has many slides. PowerPoint 2013's new Resume Reading feature eliminates this opening task by pointing to that slide for you. When you close a presentation, PowerPoint automatically bookmarks the current slide and points to that slide the next time you open the presentation.

When you open a 2013 presentation file, you'll see a callout at the right margin. You have to click it to truly appreciate it though. Doing so will access the bookmarked slide so you can go right back to work where you left off. If you don't want to start with that slide, just ignore the callout. Because PowerPoint uses a bookmark, this feature also works when saving to SkyDrive.


Also read: Add flexibility with PowerPoint 2013's improved Presenter View

Smart guides and more

PowerPoint has three types of visual guidelines for positioning and spacing objects: gridlines, static guides, and smart guides. To view static guides, right-click the slide's background and choose Grid and Guides from the resulting menu. Then, choose Guides. Smart guides are similar to static guides, but they appear on the fly. You can add guides to a Slide Master so they'll appear on all inherited slides.


Before we discuss smart guides, let's take a short detour to review alignment without guides. To align objects without smart guides, you select them as a group and then click the Align option in the Arrange group on the contextual Format tab. Displaying gridlines is helpful when spacing the objects. To shift a shape or object a pixel, you can use the arrow keys to nudge the object a bit.


The dotted lines are gridlines (shown below). The dashed line through the horizontal and vertical centers are guide lines. These two are in their default positions. (I changed the guide color to black, so they're easier to distinguish from the gridlines.) After displaying them by clicking Guides in the Show group on the View menu, you can move them by dragging them. Or, you can add more by holding [Ctrl] while dragging a new guide from one of the originals.


Smart guides are the next generation. PowerPoint displays them as you work to help you align, position, and resize shapes and objects. They appear automatically when two or more shapes are in alignment with one another. This behavior kicks in regardless of the shapes or sizes of each object. You can see with a quick glance when objects align - no guesswork or squinty eyes! The smart guide in the first figure denotes that the two objects are centered vertically. The next figure shows both the vertical and horizontal smart guides that appear when you align the two objects both ways.



PowerPoint 2013 enhances smart guides a bit. When positioning three or more shapes, PowerPoint 2013 displays arrows when the spacing between those objects is equal. Specifically, when moving an object into place, PowerPoint measures the distance between the other nearby objects and displays smart guides when the distance between the moving object and its nearest object equals the distance between the non-moving objects.



Smart guides are new in PowerPoint 2010. The resume reading and improved smart guides (equidistant) are available in PowerPoint 2013.

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