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Archive for the ‘PowerPoint’ Category

Office 2016 Public Preview

Yesterday Microsoft announced Office 2016 availability for public preview. Details and a link to the Office 2016 Preview site are in this blog article.

Over the last 12 months, we’ve transformed Office from a suite of desktop applications to a complete, cross-platform, cross-device solution for getting work done. We’ve expanded the Office footprint to iPad and Android tablets. We’ve upgraded Office experiences on the Mac, the iPhone and on the web. We’ve even added new apps to the Office family with Sway and Office Lens. All designed to keep your work moving, everywhere. But that doesn’t mean we’ve forgotten where we came from. While you’ve seen us focus on tuning Office for different platforms over the last year, make no mistake, Office on Windows desktop is central to our strategy.

Office Blogs

This version introduces some exciting new Office features:

  • Anywhere Document authoring
  • Real-time collaboration
  • Smart Applications
  • Faster and easier data analysis

All in all this looks like an exciting advance in Office technology.

Protecting Custom Templates


Between now and May 31st, check out these offers from Microsoft:

Azure 30-day Trial

MSDN Subscription

CANITPRO At The Movies (English)

CANITPRO At The Movies (French)



A crash can impact your computing life in ways that are mere inconveniences to major disasters. In this article I am going to discuss ways of limiting inconvenient data loss.

First a definition: an inconvenient data loss (as opposed to a catastrophic loss) is the loss of data which can be rebuilt relatively easily, requiring only a moderate amount of time and inconvenience to accomplish the re-build.

Catastrophic loss, on the other hand, refers to the loss of critical data that would be very difficult, perhaps even impossible, to rebuild. Some examples of critical data are business or personal financial records, family photos where a print doesn’t exist, original artistic creations, any non-trivial original work that you have created on the computer.


Data loss is a question of when, not
if it will happen; it will happen.

Catastrophic Data Loss

The only way to prevent catastrophic data loss is to regularly and frequently back the data up to a second location. How often should you back up? The more important the data, the more frequently you should back it up. A web search will turn up links to many backup applications that will assist you in backing up. Once you have decided on an application, you then need to decide what (individual files and folders) to backup, where to place the backup, and when the backup should happen.

  • Choose what to backup carefully
  • Choose a location that is not on the same
    disk or media as the actual data
  • Choose a backup frequency that will
    minimize the amount of critical data
    that will be lost when your computer crashes

Inconvenient Data Loss

The specific inconvenient data loss that prompted this article was a recent computer failure. In short, Windows crashed, making my computer unusable until I re-installed Windows. At the time, Office 2010 applications were my main tools. Roughly 75% of everything I do using my computer involves one or more Office applications (Word, Access, Excel, Publisher, PowerPoint.) I thought I had a reliable backup strategy in places with backup software copying my documents, spreadsheets, etc. to a backup folder that was in turned synced to a cloud location. That way, even if my computer experienced a total failure, I would still have all my files, with little or no loss.

Over the years, custom templates have become an essential part of my electronic tool box. For example I have Word templates that help me quickly create several different documents that are an essential part of my training practice. These include class lists, class evaluations, training quotations, and course outline formats. In short, whenever I recognized that I was creating documents that repeated standard information, I created a template that would include the information common to each of these types of documents.

Of course it takes time to create good templates but the invested time is quickly repaid because having a template eliminated re-inventing the wheel to create routine documents.

imageAnd so it seems, templates were the Achilles’ heel of my  backup strategy. I had overlooked that fact that custom templates and page parts in Office 2010 and earlier, were not stored in a location that is readily accessible to backup software. In other words, backing up document does not back up templates.

When windows went down for the count, the crash took out of circulation the folders where my custom templates were stored. Recovery, while not difficult, has been time consuming. Because I didn’t lose my data, I have been able to open files that I had originally created from each template and delete any of the content that was not part of the generic template. The difficult part has been remembering exactly what templates I had been using.

Avoiding the Problem in Office 2010 and Prior

Obviously this is an experience I would like to avoid in the future so I have modified my backup strategy. Ironically, the solution I came up with resembles the Office 2013 approach to custom template storage, something I became aware of only after I had worked out my new strategy.

First, I created a folder, MyTemplates,  in my Documents folder. Each time I create a new template, I save it to the the default templates folder and then save a new copy to MyTemplates. My backup strategy already included the Documents folder so MyTemplates is automatically backed up with every scheduled backup.

This approach isn’t ideal because it does require manual intervention whenever I create or modify a template but this minor inconvenience is well worth the bit of time it takes because it minimizes the risk of having to recreate templates in the event of a catastrophe.

How Office 2013 Handles Custom Templates

Office 2010 and prior Office versions buried custom templates in subfolders managed by Windows. The exact folder location depended on the particular Office version. In Office 2013, custom templates can become more accessible to the user. The default is a folder, Custom Office Template in the user’s Documents folders.

Given the experience I outlined above, I strongly recommend going with the default and then ensuring that the Custom Office Templates folder is included in the list of locations that you regularly backup.


Related articles:

The article Finding Template From Previous Office Versions suggests pointing your custom templates link to the templates folder that Office 2010 used. This approach is not a solution to the lost templates issue discussed above.

This article: Office 2013 Custom Templates Location the Custom Office Templates folder in Office 2013.

Office 2010 Ribbon from the User’s Perspective

Introduced in some Office 2007 applications, the Fluent User Interface is Microsoft’s attempt to ‘expose’ (make more readily available) the commands used to work with an Office application. With Office 2010, all Office applications use this style of user interface. For the average user, the most visible aspect of the Fluent User Interface is the Ribbon, which replaced the menus and toolbar interface style of Office applications from ‘97 through to 2003.

On the positive side the Fluent User Interface does a creditable job of displaying, and making more easily available, the commands that serve the needs of the vast majority of users. In the menu/toolbar style that preceded the Fluent User Interface, some commands necessarily had to be buried in the menu structure. Only the most adventurous user stood any chance of accidentally discovering some of these commands.

The Ribbon, on the other hand makes it possible for the user to easily discover many more commands simply by exploring the contents of each tab. What users will encounter however, are differences in the appearance of the Ribbon depending on the current width of the Application window and the monitor’s resolution.

Notice the detail on the Home tab of the Excel 2010 Ribbon for example:


This is a screenshot of the Ribbon as it is displayed in a very wide window. For display purposes here, the image had to be somewhat resized. Compare that image with this one, using a narrower window:


In the first image, the Styles group has a rich assortment of buttons. In the second, the styles group has only three buttons. In to see the cell styles gallery, you have to click the Cell Styles button dropdown.


With progressively narrower windows more and more groups are collapsed to a few essential buttons which you must click in order to see all the possibilities a group offers:


Here the Styles group has been reduced to a single button:


Here, the Number and Cells groups are also reduced to single buttons:


When the window is extremely narrow, most groups are barely recognizable. Notice that none of the tabs can display their full name:


It is even possible to reach a point where there is no longer enough screen with to display the full Ribbon:


When that happens, ‘expander’ buttons appear, allowing you to navigate to hidden portions of the Ribbon.

Practically speaking, it is unlikely that you would ever use such an extremely narrow window as in the last graphic but keep in mind that screen resolution also affects how the Ribbon will display. The lower the resolution setting, the more likely it is that you will see a truncated view of the Ribbon.

3D Graphs Fool the Viewer’s Eye

Recently, a colleague distributed some rather important health and well-being statistics, illustrating the data with an exploded 3D Graph. Unfortunately, while 3D graphs are more pleasing to the eye than their flat cousins; the perspective necessary to create the 3D illusion, distorts the values being plotted.

Here’s an example using simple arbitrary data. First the exploded version:


Pie 3D

Pie Flat






Notice how, in the 3D version, the Cons wedge appears smaller than the Pros wedge, even though the two wedges represent exactly the same value (46%). In the flat version, on the other hand, the Pros and Cons wedges appear to have exactly the same size.

Is it the Exploded view that creates this illusion? Consider the following unexploded views. The illusion persists.


Pie 3D UnexpPie Flat Unexp








An unscrupulous presenter could easily use this illusion to distort the facts and unfairly influence his/her audience. (Remember the adage: “Figures don’t lie; liars figure”?) Think about a political race, for example. Depending on which position the presenter wants to improve the apparent advantage of, all he or she has to do is rotate the 3D chart accordingly to immediately improve the apparent advantage of the favoured position:

Pie 3D Unexp

Pie 3D Cons Ahead




The Pros Have It!

The Cons Have It!

Of course, these examples include data labels to help the viewer’s interpretation. Omitting the labels can only make the dishonest presenter’s self-appointed task of deception easier.

So the next time you have to create a graph, think carefully about purpose of graphs and avoid the inevitable optical illusions inherent in 3D charts.

Have You Pinned Lately

Excel, PowerPoint, and Word 2007 all have Recent Documents lists on the Office Menu. You can set an option for the number (up to 50) OddGiftof document titles to be displayed on this list. It’s a handy way of getting back to documents that you have recently worked on. You don’t need to remember where the document is. Just click the name  in the Recent Documents list.

Quote of the Day

Ultimately, the only power to which man should aspire is that which he exercises over himself.

– Elie Wiesel

Even with the option set to retain 50 documents on the list, however, a document that you use only occasionally may be forced off the list if you work with a large number of different documents. Tracking down files that you use Office Menuonly once in a while can be challenging, to say the least.  Did you know that you can mark a document name so that it always stays on the list?

To the right of each document name, there is a grey pushpin icon. If you click that icon, the icon will change so that it looks like it is pushed into a corkboard and the colour will change to green. A document name with the green pushpin will always stay on the Recent Documents list, regardless of how many other documents you open and close or how long since you have opened the document.

The name will not always be on the top but it will be in the Recent Documents list. So, if you only open that Greeting Card list once a year and want to find it easily next year, click its pushpin icon on the Office Menu. The next time you go to open it, that once a year document will probably be at the bottom of the list but it will still be there waiting for you to click its name so you can get ready to send next years cards.

Quick Reference Guides for Office

I recently came across a site that offers free reference guides for Office and each of the Office applications. The guides are packed with shortcuts and other quick reference information. They are available for download in pdf format from FREE Quick References

Undo Custom Font Formatting in PowerPoint

Presentation design experts suggest that simplicity is a must if a PowerPoint presentation is to be effective. The risk when you ignore presentation style guidelines is that your message will be lost in a sea of visual changes. PowerPoint uses design masters to control slide layouts and font sizes, colours, and typefaces.

You may have a presentation (or perhaps several) where the person creating the presentation has decided to apply individual font settings to some of the slides (perhaps most of them.) Now you want to reset all text back to the standard settings of a presentation template.

Here is a particularly bad example of the problem:
bad slides

Notice how the presentation has a mixture of font sizes and colours as you go from slide to slide. Some of the text is almost unreadable and the size of title text changes from slide to slide. It wouldn’t take an audience long to write off the presentation as extremely amateurish and to question whether anything the presenter had anything worthwhile to say.


Fixing the background is fairly easily handled by simply applying a design template to the presentation and resetting slide  backgrounds to automatic for any that have a customized background. When you select Slide Design from the Format menu, the task pane will open on the right side of the screen, displaying the available design  templates. ApplySlideMaster

If you move your mouse over one of the design thumbnails, a dropdown arrow will appear on the right side of the thumbnail. Click the apply to All Slides option. In the example presentation, some slides have custom backgrounds.

At this stage, only slides that do not have custom backgrounds will be have their backgrounds reset to match that of the design master you selected. At this point you should also apply the design template to the presentation master so that PowerPoint will automatically apply it to any slides you add to the presentation.

Reset slide backgrounds by selecting all slides and then right-clicking one of them. Select “Automatic” from the Background dialogue and click Apply to All.

  setslidebackground automatic


  resetstage1   bgfixed

Design Template Applied


Automatic Background Applied

So far so good but the fonts in the presentation are still quite inconsistent. Fixing that problem requires switching the Task Pane to Slide Layout. You can do that by clicking on the title bar of the Task Pane or selecting Slide Layout from the Format menu. The is a two step process. First you apply the layout to all selected slides. Then, with all slides still selected, you click “Reapply Layout.”

  FormatSlideLayout   ApplySlideLayout

Here are before and after views of one of the slides from the sample presentation:

  SlideB4change   SlideAfter

Slide With Custom Background Colour and Formatted Text


Slide With Theme and Slide Layout Re-Applied

Note: Resetting a presentation’s appearance in this way will affect only placeholder text fonts. If the presentation includes additional textboxes, you will need to deal with these individually. You may also need to set individual slide layouts for some slides. I have applied the Title and Text layout to make the general change to all slides. To correct the first slide of the presentation, I had to select it and then apply and re-apply the Title and 2-Column Text layout.

Thanks to Noreen for raising the question and to Cynthia, Katherine, and Echo for helping with the solution.