Microsoft's estimate of 500 million PowerPoint users worldwide explained the software's pervasiveness for the "Wall Street Journal" in 2009. Microsoft sustains this level of ubiquity partly by improving its products continually. In 2007, it introduced a "fluent user interface" on all its Microsoft Office Suite products, including PowerPoint, designed to improve finding and using enhanced program capabilities. The new PowerPoint screen maintains the five-part structure of the classic screen but changes the interface component.
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Menus and Tools
Depending on which version of PowerPoint you are using, the topmost portion of your screen will display bars (version 2003 and earlier) or a ribbon (version 2007 and later). The classic bar format shows a title bar, menu bar, standard toolbar and formatting toolbar by default. The new ribbon format replaces those bars with a more intuitive interface and makes a few other key changes. For one, a Microsoft Office button replaces the old file menu. A customizable quick access toolbar gathers utilitarian tasks like save, undo and spell check in one spot. A tab bar creates tabs for activities like design, animation and slide show, and places all related tasks and commands within them. In any case, whether you're working with a ribbon or bars format, this section of the PowerPoint screen gives you access to all the tools you need to create, modify and save your presentation.
Located on the left side of the PowerPoint screen, the navigation pane gives you the option to view your presentation in outline or slides mode. The outline tab, which can expand each slide's thumbnail to show its wording, makes text editing very easy. On the other hand, the slides tab comes in handy for navigating through and reorganizing your presentation. You can sort, reorder, add or delete slides by simply cutting and pasting, or dragging and dropping the slide thumbnails.
The slide pane is the most prominent section of the PowerPoint screen, located center right. This pane displays your slides one at a time. In the pane, you can create and modify content, add media, set transitions, apply animations and design each of your slides individually.
Directly beneath the slide pane is the notes pane, again in the center-right portion of the screen. As its name suggests, this is where you can jot down notes to elaborate on or substantiate the content of each slide. You could also key in a script, talking points or reminders to guide presenters in the actual presentation.
In versions 2003 and earlier, the PowerPoint screen's bottom bar offers three small buttons to the left that allow you to switch from normal to slide sorter to presentation view. The bar also indicates the slide number of the slide you are currently viewing and which presentation template you are using. In versions 2007 and later, PowerPoint's bottom bar provides the same information, but scoots the small view buttons to the right, next to a new zoom control slider.