PowerPoint is all about presenting to audiences – more often than not, people
tend to use words rather than visuals. Using visual content such as photographs
can convey so much more. In this article, we’ll look at ways to optimize
your photo content before and after inserting them into PowerPoint. Among
other things, we’ll also look at some photo effects you can create within
Photographs are usually sourced from digital cameras and scanners – although
many people also use photographs sourced from the Internet and CD stock-photo
collections. Whatever photograph you use, do respect copyrights – you don’t
want to create something from content that is stolen.
Most photographs, especially those obtained from digital cameras and scanners
tend to be large in size, often taking up to a megabyte each. Inserting these
photographs into a presentation can balloon up PowerPoint file sizes dramatically – thus
making them difficult to share, re-purpose and distribute. Ideally, one should
crop and compress all photographs in an image editor like Photoshop or Paint
Shop Pro before taking them to PowerPoint. Most versions of PowerPoint (and
Microsoft Office) are bundled with a basic image editor called Microsoft
Photo Editor. This program is very rudimentary – but that’s probably all
you need to optimize photographs. To resize photographs in
Photo Editor, choose Image | Resize and enter the sizes you want in pixels.
Photo Editor can also crop images to remove unwanted detail – in addition,
the program includes a few basic effect procedures like ‘sharpen’ and ‘smooth’.
You’ll also find a few special effects like emboss, water color and texturizer
within the Effects menu. For more effective control and creativity, you’ll
have to look at something more capable like Photoshop or Paint Shop Pro.
Also, most scanners and digital cameras include a software bundle that contains
a fairly capable image editor like Photoshop Elements, MGI Photo Suite or
PowerPoint accepts images in various formats including JPG, GIF, PNG, BMP
and TIF. More often than not, you might want to use the JPG format since
it’s ideally suited for photographs – JPG files are also traditionally smaller
in size terms than comparable images in other formats.
Inserting pictures into a slide is simple – choose Insert | Picture | From
File… and choose your picture – by default, PowerPoint’s Insert Picture dialog
box has a small preview window that shows you a likeness of the image before
you actually insert it within the application.
Once you have inserted a photograph, you can add some effects within PowerPoint
itself. While a photograph is selected, PowerPoint’s Photo toolbar gets activated.
On the toolbar, you’ll find various icons that allow you to increase and
reduce brightness and contrast. In addition, you can change the photograph
to grayscale or a watermark. You can also crop a picture and add a border.
Experiment with borders – you can create lined, dashed and dotted borders
in various thickness increments and colors – some of these combinations can
create unique frames for your photographs. On the cover CD, you’ll find a
sample presentation with various effects and borders applied to photographs.
Some photographs, especially those that have less detail or are blurred
can be used as presentation backgrounds. To apply a photograph as a background,
choose Format | Background. In the drop down list next to a 'down arrow',
select the 'Fill Effects' option. This will open the 'Fill Effects' dialog
box. Within the 'Picture' tab in the dialog box, click the ‘Select Picture’ button – now
you can browse and choose a graphic image from your disk. Press 'OK' and ‘Apply/Apply
to All’ in successive dialog boxes.
Like other elements, photographs (not backgrounds) can be animated in PowerPoint.
PowerPoint 2002 and above offer a far greater degree of control in animation
with the new entry, motion path and exit animations than earlier versions.
In PowerPoint 97 and 2000, right click the photograph and choose ‘Custom
Animation’ – you can choose from a variety of animation styles including
wipes, dissolves, swivels and zooms.
PowerPoint 2002 allows you to apply an entry animation, a motion path and
an exit animation to any photograph – you can fine-tune the timings and appearance
of the actual animation through a basic timeline.
PowerPoint 2002 also provides another new feature – picture compression.
You can compress one or all photographs in a presentation to reduce the final
size of the PowerPoint file. Follow these steps:
any picture and choose Format | Picture.
the Picture tab in the resultant tabbed dialog box and click the ‘Compress’ button.
the resolution to Web/Screen and choose to apply to all pictures
in the document (presentation). Click ‘OK’ and then ‘Apply’ to the next
dialog box. Click OK again.
Although photographs can add character to a presentation, one needs to be
aware of a few guidelines. Never use a photograph that is not relevant to
the content of the presentation. Sometimes, you might want to show a process,
a detail or an event through a photograph – it is a good idea to include
a caption for such photographs, especially if the presentation is intended
for distribution to audiences who are going to view
the presentation without a presenter.