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Tame your computer – cut to the chase

23 Jan

Earlier this month a course delegate asked me whether there was a way to move a bullet point up or down in PowerPoint. Obviously you can use cut and paste, but I remembered there was a nifty keyboard shortcut. But what was it?

So I used my own search page and typed in three words (PowerPoint bullet up) and hey presto … tip 308 came up in the preview of the shortcut archive.

Here’s how:

  1. Put your cursor anywhere in the bulleted text or paragraph you want to move.
  2. Click ALT + SHIFT + UP ARROW to move the bullet point or text up or ALT + SHIFT + DOWN ARROW to move it down.

And I just noticed it also works for pictures in Word.

Tame your computer – get smart with SmartArt

2 Sep

Hope you’ve all fallen in love with SmartArt, introduced in Microsoft Office 2007?! (I still encounter people who don’t know about this nifty feature, hence the question.)

My only bugbear about SmartArt is that it’s difficult to tweak individual bits. Perhaps you want to remove one of its arrows. Or animate a specific part of the graphic. Well, you can do so once you convert the SmartArt into individual shapes.

Here’s how:

  1. Consider duplicating the slide (CTRL + D) as this is a one-way process.
  2. Right-click on the border of the SmartArt graphic.
  3. Select Convert to Shapes.

If you struggle with or don’t like the right-click, the Convert button can be found on the SmartArt Tools Design tab. And if, like me, you love keyboard shortcuts you may want to check out ungrouping the SmartArt graphic by pressing CTRL + SHIFT + G twice.

Related tips:

Tip # 501: Change the emphasis of a SmartArt graphic by changing its direction

Tip # 355: Tweak your SmartArt graphics

Tip # 268: Convert an existing bulleted list to a SmartArt graphic

Tip # 230: Draw three concentric circles with text in each

Unless stated otherwise, these tips were written for Microsoft Office 2010.

Tame your computer – picture perfect

25 May

Not so long ago I was helping a client update her PowerPoint presentation. We had used one of the SmartArt Graphics that can contain pictures, but wanted to reposition the photo … more head, less body. The right-clickers among you might intuitively try Size and Position, but that applies to the placeholder, not the picture itself. But don’t despair – you can get access to the photo.

Here’s how:

  1. Click on the picture in the SmartArt.
  2. Click on the Picture Tools Format tab.
  3. Click on the Crop button.
  4. To resize the picture, drag any of the corner sizing handles, so that both the height and width change and you won’t end up with a distorted photo.
  5. To reposition the picture, make sure you have a 4-headed arrow cursor and drag the picture to the desired location. Hold down the SHIFT key to “snap” the picture to a perfect horizontal or vertical “grid”.
  6. Click anywhere outside the placeholder to “confirm” the change.

With thanks to Miranda for this week’s tip inspiration.

Related tips:
Tip 501: Change the emphasis of a SmartArt graphic by changing its direction (tip_501.php)
Tip 355: Tweak your SmartArt graphics (tip_355.php)
Tip 268: convert an existing bulleted list to a SmartArt graphic (tip_268.php)

Unless stated otherwise, these tips were written for Microsoft Office 2010.

Tame your computer – slick ways to add slides

14 Apr

When you open PowerPoint, a slide appears with two “placeholders” – one for a title and one for a subtitle. There are various ways to add additional slides and they might be faster than your current method.

Here’s how:

  • Click on the New Slide button in the Slides group on the Home tab.


  • In the slide pane on the left, click where you want to add a slide and press ENTER.


  • Press CTRL + M.

The new slide in your presentation contains “placeholders” that you can use to build your layout, such as a bulleted list, table, charts, SmartArt graphics, pictures, movies and sound. You can select a different layout that might better accommodate the content that you plan to add to the slide by clicking on the Layout button in the Slides group on the Home tab. If you use the first option described above you can also do this “on the fly”, making sure you click on the drop-down arrow, not the New Slide button itself. Any subsequent slides will automatically get the layout from the previous slide.

There are obviously other ways that you can add slides to your presentation, such as copy (CTRL + C) and paste (CTRL + V) or duplicate selected slides (CTRL + D). And you can also quickly import slides from other presentations, but let’s make that the content for a future tip.

Related tips:
Tip 228: Convert your Word documents to PowerPoint presentations

Tip 268: Convert an existing bulleted list to a SmartArt graphic

Tame your computer – save your work as a PDF

3 Apr

The Portable Document Format (PDF) is a file format used to present documents in a manner independent of application software, hardware, and operating systems. One of the purposes of saving your documents as a PDF is to keep the format and text of your files from being modified. It is very easy to save MS Office files as PDFs, without the need for any other software or add-ins.

Here’s how:

  1. Click the File tab and select Save As. (Or press F12.)
  2. If necessary, type a File name.
  3. Press TAB and type P (or select PDF *.pdf from the drop-down list).
  4. Press ENTER or click Save.

(I’ll add F12, TAB, P, ENTER as the shortcut of the week on our home page and will update the shortcut archive accordingly.)

After you’ve saved a file as a PDF, you cannot convert it back to an MS Office file format without specialised software or a third-party add-in. (After all – and as mentioned before – one of the purposes of the PDF format is to keep the format and text of your files from being modified.) To change the PDF file, open the original file in your Office program, make your changes, and save the file in PDF format once more.

By the way, if you want to email your document, presentation or workbook as a PDF attachment, you can do that without first having to convert it to PDF and/or opening Outlook. See for details.

See Tip 232 and Tip 250 for additional information related to hiding and unhiding rows and columns.

Tame your computer – keep it on the straight and arrow

15 Dec

Have you ever had the need to draw a perfectly straight horizontal or vertical line or arrow?

Here’s how:

  1. On the Insert tab, in the Illustrations group, click Shapes and select the appropriate Line or Arrow tool. (In PowerPoint Shapes can also be found on the Home tab, in the Drawing group.)
  2. Press and hold down the SHIFT key and drag the mouse pointer until the line or arrow is the desired size at the preferred angle.
  3. Release the mouse button.
  4. Release the SHIFT key.

The line or arrow will “snap” to a perfect 45-degree angle, either horizontally or vertically. And remember, you can also use this trick to draw a perfect square or circle; see Tip 144.

As a matter of fact, if you hold down the SHIFT key while inserting any of the ready-made shapes, it will be added with equal proportions.

Tame your computer – pace your presentation

6 Nov

The other day I ran one of my half day PowerPoint training sessions. Going through ideas on how to prevent death by PowerPoint, the delegate told me about Pecha Kucha, a presentation-style in which 20 slides are shown for 20 seconds each, ensuring you keep the presentation short (6 minutes and 40 seconds, if you do the maths) and fast-paced. So what if you like the idea of using the same timing for  – and automatically advancing – each slide?

Here’s how:

  1. Create your (20) slides, as normal. (Click underneath the first title slide in the Slides tab on the left hand side and press ENTER 19 times.)
  2. Select the slides that you want to set the timing for. (Press CTRL + A to select all slides.)
  3. On the Transitions tab, in the Timing group, under Advance Slide, untick the On Mouse Click check box. (In version 2007 this check box can be found on the Animations tab.)
  4. Double-click on the two zeros in the middle of the After box, type 20 (so that it reads 00:20.00) and press ENTER. (The check box will be automatically ticked, so you can save yourself some time.)
  5. Click on the Apply To All button.

With a simple change of settings, the slide show will run continuously … on the Slide Show tab, in the Set Up group, click on Set Up Slide Show and tick the Loop continuously until ‘Esc’ check box. This can be particularly useful if you have to man an information booth or kiosk in an exhibition area where it often isn’t enough to have a well-put-together stand with glossy posters and cute freebies. As you’re competing for the attention of the visitors, you might want to put together a self-running slide show, explaining your products and services. Personally, I use it to show my favourite tips to those who arrive early at a seminar, allowing them time to scribble down the ones that strike a chord.

By the way, if you’re interested in the half day Boost PowerPoint beyond bullet points training session (97 pounds only) but cannot make the day (Tuesday 10 November) … this course can also be held on-site at a time that suits you/your colleagues. An on-site course can even work out to be more cost effective! Although based in Cambridge, training can be delivered at any location. Please contact me to discuss your particular requirements.