Features of MS PowerPoint

By David Weedmark

If you're new to PowerPoint 2013, take this walk-through to explore its most-used features, including Themes, formatting, animation and practicing a slideshow.

Microsoft's PowerPoint 2013 is a feature-rich presentation program with a vast array of options. Whole books have been written on PowerPoint, and there are entire tutorials dedicated to individual features. If you're new to PowerPoint, here's a walk-through on some of its most useful features to help get you started.

Creating a Presentation

Step 1

Launch PowerPoint. Its initial window lists all of your installed PowerPoint Themes, including a Blank Presentation. If you type a description in the Search field at the top of the window, PowerPoint searches Microsoft's online themes for additional options. In the left menu are PowerPoint files that you've created and saved in the past.

Step 2

A blank presentation.

Click the the Blank Presentation thumbnail to create a new, blank PowerPoint file. The Blank Presentation uses Office's default Calibri font on a plain white background. The first slide is already created, including a Title and Subtitle text box already in place. On the left are thumbnails of all of the slides, which you can click to view different slides.

At the top of the window is the PowerPoint ribbon and above that are the tabs. Clicking a tab changes which ribbon is displayed. Whenever you open or create a PowerPoint file, the Home tab is selected by default.

Step 3

Design ribbon options.

Click the Design tab. The Design ribbon displays the same themes you saw when you opened PowerPoint. Select a Theme and then click any Variant. From the Design ribbon, you can also change the Slide Size. If you click the Format Backgound icon, you can change the background to a color, pattern or even a photo.

Step 4

Home ribbon options.

Click the Home menu. Click the Title text box and type a title. To change the font, drag the cursor over the words and select any of the options in the Home ribbon, such as the Font, Font Size or Color. Repeat this process for the Subtitle text box.

Step 5

The Insert ribbon.

Click the Insert tab. Anything you want to insert into a presentation can be done from the Insert tab, including Shapes, Pictures, Excel-like Tables, Hyperlinks, Text Boxes and New Slides. The Audio icon gives you the option to add music to a PowerPoint slide. To delete anything from a slide, click it and press the Delete key.


PowerPoint includes options for making objects semi-transparent so you can add text or images as watermarks in a PowerPoint slide.


The Transitions ribbon.

Transitions, available in the Transitions tab, animate the change from one slide to another. Once you select a transition style, like a Fade, Wipe or Push, specify how long the transition should last in the Duration menu. To play the slides automatically, deselect the On Mouse-Click check box and enter the amount of time you want the current slide to be displayed in the After menu.


The Animations ribbon.

Animations, available in the Animations ribbon, can be applied to any object within a slide, like a text box, photo or shape. Once you select an object and choose an animation, specify when it should Start and its Duration. If you add a second animation to the same slide, use the Delay menu to define how long to wait after the last animation before the second begins.


For an advanced PowerPoint animation tips, check out this tutorial on making a picture spin on its axis.

Practicing and Perfecting a Presentation

The Slideshow ribbon.

Click the SlideShow tab to rehearse your presentation once it's finished. You can start the slideshow From Beginning or From Current Slide. To play the presentation on a second display or projector, click the Monitor menu.

When you're finished creating the presentation, click the File tab and select Save.


To collaborate with others and track changes on a PowerPoint presentation, click the Review tab.