How to Make a Slide Show with PowerPoint

10:02:00 PM |

In our series of articles on creating digital images, you learned how to capture and edit pictures from a variety of sources. But what about putting them to use? This week, you'll learn how to arrange your images into a slide show with PowerPointPowerPoint is one of the programs in the Microsoft Office package, so most people already have it on their computer, and it's easy to use, even for beginners. And because almost everybody has PowerPoint, you can send your slide show to them and they'll be able to watch it.

A slide show can present and illustrate an event in history, or explain a geometric proof in math. It can illuminate an oral book report, or report the results of a science experiment. Teachers use slide shows as backdrops to their lectures, students use them to deliver reports, and schools use them to show the community what they are doing. A slide show can be a valuable tool for teaching, sharing and learning.

The best way to use this article is to construct your own slide show as you read it. To do this, you'll need a collection of images that can be arranged to tell a story. If you need help getting those images ready, refer to the three articles in the Teaching with Technology series on Using Digital Images. Once you have the images you need, save them in a folder and get ready to construct your slide show. Make sure all of your images have been saved in the right size and resolution for the screen. This means that all images should be saved at 72 pixels per inch, and none should be larger than 800x600 pixels.

Open PowerPoint
When you launch the PowerPoint program, it may ask you what kind of document you want to create. Choose to create a blank presentation.

PowerPoint will then present you with a New Slide dialog box, where you can choose what kind of layout you want for your first slide. Choose the Blank slide layout, the one in the lower right corner.

Now you are in PowerPoint's editing mode. It's here that you build your slide show, creating new slides, inserting your images, and accessing all of the tools that PowerPoint provides. The viewers of your slide show will not see this editing display; they'll see only the slides themselves filling the screen.
In the editing display, you will see a white rectangle on the right. This represents your first slide. Onto this slide you can place images and text.

To put a title on a slide, 
select Text Box from the Insert menu. Click and drag a text box across the blank slide. Type the title. Use a large font size to ensure the audience can read it at a distance. You can change font and size by selecting the text, and then choosing Font from the Format menu.

To add a new slide,
choose New Slide from the Insert menu.

To bring in a picture, 
choose Picture from the Insert menu, then choose From File. Locate your image file, click the Insert button, and watch the picture appear in the document. (If your picture seems much too big or too small, do not stretch or shrink it to fit. Go back and change its size with a photo editing software title like one from the Adobe Photoshop series. Remember that excessive stretching and shrinking in PowerPoint reduces the quality of your image.)

To draw on a slide,
open the Drawing toolbar by choosing View -- Toolbars -- Drawing from the menubar. Then select a shape or a line from the Drawing toolbar at the left of the screen. Click and drag across the slide to draw the shape.

To view the slide show,
select View Show from the Slide Show menu. Click the mouse to go on to the next slide.
Press escape on the keyboard to exit the slide show.

To change the background color of the slide show,
choose Slide color scheme under the Format menu. Then choose the Custom tab, and click on the color you want.
To make a slide open with a dissolve or a wipe,
choose Slide Transition under the Slide Show menu. Squeeze the pop-up button under the picture to assign a transition to this slide.

To create forward and back arrows,
use the Slide Master under the View menu to view the master elements -- those elements that appear on every slide. Use AutoShapes from the Drawing toolbar to select a right-facing arrow. Click and drag to place it in the corner where you want it to appear. Select it, then use Action Settings from the Slide Show menu and assign this item to jump to the next slide. Repeat this process to create a left-facing arrow to jump to the previous slide.

To put a shadow under a picture,
use the drawing tools to make a box just a little bigger than the image. Select the color for this box. With the box selected, use Send Backward under the Order section of the Draw button at the bottom of the screen to place this box just under your picture but above the background.

To use PowerPoint clip art,
under the Insert menu, use Picture then Clip Art. There you will find lots of little pictures to choose from. They will appear on the slide, where they can be repositioned and resized to fit your purposes.

To make several images appear on a slide one after another,
first place all the images on the slide where you want them to appear. Choose Animations -- Custom from the Slide Show menu. Choose the Effects tab. Select the image you want to animate from the list (not from the picture). Then select an Entry Effect from the drop-down menu then the Animate button on the right. Click OK to close this window. When you run the slide show, the images will appear one after the other as they mouse is clicked.

Don't forget to save your slide show as you are building it.
Publishing Your Slide Show
Once built and saved, what's the best way to distribute your slide show to your audience? Here are some of the possibilities.

On the computer screen.
Simply gather your audience around the computer, and view the slide show. This works well for groups under ten, and calls for full-screen, close-up images as well as large plain text titles.

On a projector.
.Connect the computer to a projector, and present to the whole class, or to the whole school in the auditorium. This method of distribution demands the same big images and large text as the first one.

On a disk.
Save the PowerPoint file to a floppy disk, and distribute it to the audience. (It is cross platform so both Windows and Macintosh users can view it.) You will find this method adequate for short slide shows, of up to about twelve large images. Beyond this, the size of the file will be too big to fit on a floppy disk, so you may want to use a Zip disk or CD-ROM for longer shows.

On a CD-ROM.
If your computer has a CD-ROM burner, you can simply copy your PowerPoint slide show, no matter how large, to the CD-R and burn a CD. When members of your audience get the CD, and double-click your slide show file, it will open in PowerPoint.

On the Web.
You have two choices for publishing on the Web: you can copy the PowerPoint file to a Web server in its original format and link to it, or you can save the slide show in HTML format.
  • Linked to original file. Copy your PowerPoint file to a Web server (the school Webmaster/mistress can help you with this.) Then link to the file with a standard URL, such as When members of your audience link to this URL, their browsers will download the PowerPoint file and play it on their computers.

  • Converted to HTML. In PowerPoint, choose Save As Web Page from the File menu, then follow the instructions. This will convert your slide show to Web pages. It will create a folder full of HTML pages and JPEG images. Copy this entire folder to a Web server. When your audience links to this folder, they will see your slides play in a browser window.

On the LAN.
If your school has a Local Area Network, with file servers where people can store and share their work, you can copy your PowerPoint slide show file to a server on the LAN, whence the audience can view it on their own computers.