“Rounded” is the New Look

With the Microsoft new office look, there is a generous use of rounded corners, which Microsoft labels “Soft Corners.” But is this good for presentation design?

As example, all four corners of the Ribbon, and in my setup the top of the Ribbon and bottom of my QAT because it is positioned below the ribbon, have a subtle rounded corner styling.

In edit view, the left film strip slide sorter has been changed so all slides have a subtle rounded corner design. Very mobile app and social media inspired. The actual work slide area maintains the full rectangle shape.

New is not always better. Are rounded corners on the slide sorter better? While I appreciate the creativity the Dev team has implemented, I am voting that this update can impact visual reference of the slide design. As example, this presentation in the full slide sorter view – which also has the rounded corner styling applied.

The template, developed here by the TLC Creative design team, has a very linear styling. These newly introduced rounded corners to the slide preview add to, alter, and impact the viewer interpretation of that design. In addition to cutting out (small) portions of the content at each corner. For reference, here is the Title slide layout in full (rectangle) view. I feel the above slide sorter view of the slides and this full slide have very different design aesthetics, even though they are the same slides.

That’s it, just an observation. As an end user we cannot turn off this new view, it is what PowerPoint gives us. The Microsoft PowerPoint team has already received lots of feedback on this aspect of the new Office look and I am hopeful that this specific update revert to the more practical slide shape is what is represented everywhere.

Troy @ TLC

By |2021-07-21T16:21:24-07:00July 28th, 2021|PowerPoint|

My QAT is All Words! Give Me Back My Icons!

Part of the New Office look are some improvements to the QAT. But in the excitement to showcase what is new, Microsoft steps on our customized settings and alters the QAT for those users that rely on it. Aside from the initial shock of my QAT becoming virtually useless, there are good improvements.

So here is my standard QAT; 37 curated action icons set in specific groupings and order that enable the TLC design team to work faster and more efficient in PowerPoint. The QAT on all TLC design computers is positioned below the ribbon.

After the New Office Look update, my QAT looked like this. 12 icons + the word description of those action items. This rendering my QAT, and my workflow virtually useless.

It took some looking. Here is the action item you want to know and do. Find an open space on the QAT between the left most icon and the right most icon. Right click to bring up the QAT right-click options menu (it will most likely take several attempts). I am sure this menu is accessible in another location, but I have not found it yet.

The important new addition is the HIDE COMMAND LABELS option. Click it and your QAT will return to the efficient icon layout and presentation work can return to normal.

Troy @ TLC

By |2021-07-21T16:16:10-07:00July 26th, 2021|PowerPoint|

Microsoft Office Apps have a “New” Look

Microsoft has started rolling out the “new Office look”. On my test computer, running the Office Insider, Beta Channel build the “new” Office look was updated last week. So, all builds of Office 365 should see this in their updates within the next few weeks.

If you clicked the “not now” message to the mini info tour of what the new Office look is all about, here are the 4 information screens – when clicking “Show Me”.

Troy @ TLC

By |2021-07-21T16:13:43-07:00July 23rd, 2021|PowerPoint|

What is the Salary of a Presentation Designer?

This episode on The Presentation Podcast Troy, Nolan and Sandy to talk money. They are joined by Bethany Auck, President of the Presentation Guild, to talk about the “2021 State of the Industry and Salary Survey Report.” The report is full of great data collected specifically about compensation of presentation professionals and we will tell you how to get a copy of it for free!

Listen to episdode 130 through you favorite podcast app or on The Presentation Podcast website here.

By |2021-07-20T07:56:23-07:00July 20th, 2021|PowerPoint|

.TTF vs .TTC Fonts and PowerPoint for the Web

Our design team recently noted a problem with a template project we were developing. Having a problem with PowerPoint is unfortunately part of the design process, it is part of “working within the limitations of PowerPoint.” But this problem was not making sense. After lots of internal troubleshooting, I started an email conversation with Microsoft Dev and Product Managers about it. This led to discovering something new. Unfortunately, the discovery did not fix the problem, and it led to discovering what Microsoft shows as working, does not – ugh!

So, here’s the deal, PowerPoint is really, really bad at helping users with font management. One glimmer of positive news is Microsoft’s investment in Cloud Fonts. These are fonts that Microsoft owns (or owns usage rights to), that Microsoft applications recognize, and if a font is not installed on your computer, it is automatically downloaded, installed and the document updates to display the correct font. We call these “Microsoft Safe Fonts” and encourage clients to stay within this set of fonts so everyone knows everyone will see the same thing.

I am going to avoid going into all the ways MS Office fails to manage, help or inform users if a non-standard font is not available when a presentation is opened – or this will become a very long, very negative rant. I am going to stick to Microsoft Cloud Fonts, because these are the good thing, but also the bad. Microsoft has a webpage, Clouds Fonts in Office, with information about what Cloud Fonts are and a list of every cloud font available (go to the page here). It is also fairly up to date showing as of this post, it was last revised just a few months ago on April 27, 2021.

Expand the “Cloud Fonts List” and it is (now) important to note there are two file formats for the fonts. They are either .TTF or .TTC. On the technical side, .TTF is “true type font” which is a mainstay in the font file format options. .TTC is “True Type Collection” and less used. But it should be used more because it is on the technology side of things, a great option. The “collection” part of the True Type Collection format means it can have several variations of a font in a single file vs. needing to manage multiple files, one for each variation. On the image below, left is the font name, middle the file name with file type extension, and right is the version number of that file.

Expand the “Cloud Font Availability by Application” section and there is a nice, organized cross reference of what devices and versions of PowerPoint will work with what (note: it is wrong, we will get to that shortly).

For TLC Creative Services we have studied this information in detail, and I have had the opportunity to interact directly with the Microsoft developers asking clarifying questions. I feel I have a particularly good understanding of fonts on the technical side (hey, years of print design and production makes you obsess over fonts), and a very good understanding of how Microsoft applications, especially PowerPoint, are setup to work with fonts – including where they do not work (that list is much longer than what does work). So when one of our design team emails me saying there is a font display problem, I am prepared to address it and find a work around.

This is same PowerPoint template open in two different versions of PowerPoint. The slide title font is clearly not displaying the same. The immediate questions are; is this a custom font that is not installed on one device? Are we sure this is a Microsoft safe font (eg. font listed on the Microsoft Cloud Fonts in Office web page)? What are the devices? Are both connected to the internet (a cloud font cannot download and install if there is no internet available)? And many other questions to go down the list of potential problems.

This is the same presentation template file open on the same computer, each on a separate monitor, each in a different PowerPoint application. The left image is the file open in Microsoft Teams (aka PowerPoint for the Web). The right part of the image is the file open in the Windows Desktop version of PowerPoint. So, the availability of the cloud font is the same for both because they are the same file being viewed on the same computer – WHAT IS HAPPENING HERE $#@%!?

Here is where things went even further down, in regard to trust. We now know, because of this accidental discovery, there a HUGE MISSING COMMUNICATION piece from Microsoft. Before I rant any further, one of the internal Microsoft managers did promise that a fix for this is in process. No timeline given to this issue we have all been living with for the past 2-3 (?) years of using Microsoft Cloud Fonts, but I am hopeful this blog post will be outdated and just a timestamp of an old problem soon.

The .TTC file format for fonts is very cool. It allows a single file to hold all of variations of a font. As example, the font being used for slide title text is UD Digi Kyolasho. It has 6 styles, or variations, as it extended font family. With a .TTC, a single file is all that is needed, because it has all 6 variations within it.

Well, it turns out that the .TTC format is to cool for PowerPoint, specifically PowerPoint for the Web (without testing to confirm, I am expanding this to include PowerPoint for Android, IOS and any other version that is not a desktop version). PowerPoint for the Web is unfortunately not able to use those multiple versions of the font in the .TTC file. PowerPoint for the Web can only use the first version of the font family. We would all be okay with this limitation – if we knew about it. The cross reference compatibility chart above makes no mention of .TTC fonts not being supported by PowerPoint for the web and implies they are supported (big oops!).

From our template project, the UD Digi Kyolasho font is a Microsoft Cloud Font. Why the left image (PowerPoint through Microsoft Teams) displayed the N-B variation, which is the correct font family, but wrong version, and the right image (PowerPoint through Desktop PowerPoint) displayed the correct NK-B variation has been a painful journey. We had to explain to the client that the template design will not display the slide title text as expected when viewed in Microsoft Teams or anything other than the desktop PowerPoint app. This is a corporation that has adopted Microsoft Teams and file collaboration as a workflow (Microsoft should be ecstatic!). This is a large corporate client (I am guessing a Microsoft customer with 5000+ seats to Microsoft Office) that trusts us to provide guidance on how best to work with PowerPoint, and they are not excited about Microsoft right now…

I mentioned above that Microsoft said they have a fix in process. This is not a Microsoft only problem. PowerPoint for the Web and other web-based applications cannot fully use .TTC fonts. We can live with another limitation; I just wish Microsoft would have informed everyone of the limitation. The solution that is in process is converting all .TTC fonts to individual .TTF files. When rolled out, the above template will work on all PowerPoint end points, because there will be 6 separate font .TTF files, one for each variation of the UD Digi Kyolasho font. Until I see the font list updated to .TTF files, we are removing .TTC fonts from our “safe fonts” list… ugh!

Troy @ TLC

By |2021-07-11T23:17:22-07:00July 12th, 2021|PowerPoint, Resource/Misc|

A Better Way to Hide Slides

Quick, which is the hidden slide!?

PowerPoint does not make it easy. There are visual indicators; the page number has a (thin, small) line through it and the slide itself is (faintly) dimmer than the others. And this is if you are in PowerPoint slide sorter view. On a printout, if the hidden slides are included in the printout, there is NO indicator if a slide is included in the slideshow or skipped because it is hidden.

Back in September 2016 I shared my solution, a .png image overlay to visually show when a slide is hidden (if you need a 4×3 version of the hidden overlay, find it on the Sept. 2016 blog post here).

Jump to present day 2021 and 4×3 is not the size presentations we create any longer. So here is an update with a 16×9 version of our Hidden Overlay image.

With the Hidden Overlay .png it is much easier to know which slides are hidden (hint: the slide on the left is the hidden one 😊).

One issue that comes up with adding the Hidden Overlay, if you manually go to this slide, everyone sees a giant “Hidden” across the slide. This is overcome with a preset animation that makes the hidden image not show up to the audience. Download the sample slide and try it.

Download the 16×9 Hidden Overlay .png here.

Download a slide with the Hidden Overlay and disappear animation preset here.

Troy @ TLC

By |2021-06-12T13:28:58-07:00June 28th, 2021|PowerPoint, Resource/Misc|

What is PowerPoint Autofix?

Auto Fix is a new native PowerPoint feature that is designed to help align content on slides more quickly.

Auto Fix can help automatically align, uniformly resize, and distribute elements and straighten the connectors between them. It is pretty magical (okay, really good coding). But it is only currently available if using PowerPoint for the web


Select the objects (images, shapes, text boxes) > go to the HOME tab > SHAPE > ARRANGE > AUTOFIX

Or, find Auto Fix button with a right click. Select the shapes > right click one of the shapes > AUTO FIX is half way down the options available.

As example, here are 3 randomly placed shapes on a slide.

After selecting all three shapes and running Auto Fix, this is what PowerPoint provided – vertically aligned, equal spacing between objects and centered on the slide:

One note, Auto Fix currently does not work with SmartArt, group shapes and elements that overlap.

Another recommendation is to use Auto Fix on smaller groups of elements to get their positioning and alignment updated, then adjust any additional elements either with another Auto Fix run, or manually position for the final layout.

One more Before & After example of something a bit more complex.  The bottom aligned layout was created by Auto Fix in a single click:

Christie @ TLC

By |2021-06-01T10:56:03-07:00June 25th, 2021|PowerPoint|

PowerPoint Recommends What File You Want to Open

Microsoft 365 has a new AI integration. When you go to File > Home, there is a list of presentation files that PowerPoint has determined you want to open now.

This feature should be available on all 365 versions (Windows, Mac, mobile and web). Go to FILE > HOME > RECOMMENDED FOR YOU section. Based on your workflow, Office’s AI algorithm lists the presentation files it feels you are most likely to want to open now!

The Recommended for You list is only presentations that are stored on Teams/OneDrive/SharePoint. So any files you have on your local computer or local company network are not included. And it is not a list of just the 6 most recent files you have opened. I open dozens of presentations files each day (okay, I open 50+ presentation files each day, but currently about a dozen+ are hosted on Teams and show up in the Recommended for You area). The far right file in the list is dated May 21, which was over a month ago vs the other presentations in the list, but it was a similar topic and was amazingly similar to the topic I was working on…

The only confusing thing about this feature is that it is not a part of the File > Open information.

Troy @ TLC

By |2021-06-11T10:27:58-07:00June 23rd, 2021|PowerPoint|

How Big is This Image?

Looking at an image on a slide, it is not easy to know what the original image size is. Is it HUGE, adding unnecessary file size? Or is it tiny and not going to display well? There is a quick and easy way to figure out original image sizes within in PowerPoint:

On this example slide, the image is on the slide relatively small. But is this its real size?

To visually see the true size of the image, go to the top menu and click the Picture Format tab, then select the “Reset Picture” dropdown, and choose Reset Picture and Size

Once the picture has been reset, it will size to its real size. With this example, the image was MUCH larger than its displayed size (which depending on animation needs, could be okay to keep as is)

If you are “numbers” person, click on any image. Go to the “Size and Properties” tab in the Format Picture settings. Look at the Scale Height and Scale Width percentage. For our example image it shows the small image is displayed at only 40% of its original size. That tells us the image is much bigger, could easily fill the slide at its native 100% size – or it is bigger than needed for the slide and adding to the file size of the presentation.

Just a few tricks of where to look, or what to do, to know if the image on a slide is what you need as far as its file size.

Jake @ TLC

By |2021-06-14T11:38:09-07:00June 14th, 2021|PowerPoint|

PowerPoint Custom Color Schemes and “Indian Jones”

Our final custom PowerPoint color scheme is inspired by the classic trilogy of Indian Jones. The PowerPoint slide shows the reference image, the color chips, and you will need to download the PowerPoint file to enjoy the creative color naming.

Indiana: Warm yellow tones, set as a monochromatic scheme. Colors taken from the main character clothing and the objects in the surrounding background.

Download the PowerPoint deck with preset color scheme here.

By |2021-05-08T12:35:12-07:00June 11th, 2021|PowerPoint|
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