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PowerPoint 2010: How to Create Presentation Outlines in Notepad

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Geetesh Bajaj shows you how creating the outline of your next PowerPoint presentation within another program such as Notepad will make it easy for you to concentrate on the message and story of your presentation.

Most PowerPoint users create presentations by inserting slides as they need them, and they often copy slides from older presentations to use them again.

This approach may help create presentations quickly, but such presentations have no thought or story. In addition, this is a sure shot way of creating a presentation with 50 slides when only 20 may have been sufficient!

The solution to this problem lies in creating the structure of your presentation outside PowerPoint. Begin by trying to create a message in your mind; see if you can sum up the reason or objective of creating your presentation in just one sentence. Narrowing the focus to one sentence would help you create a presentation that does not have too many confused messages; and of course that would result in fewer slides and happier audiences.

Next take a piece of paper and note what you want to add on each slide. In fact, you can probably do this task on your computer by creating an outline using Notepad, a small application that has been built into every version of Microsoft Windows.

Follow these steps to get started:

  1. Launch Notepad, which always launches with a new text file, as shown in Figure 1.
  2. At this point, type in all the text that you want to see within the titles, subtitles, and bulleted points within your slides. Type these on separate lines, as shown in Figure 2.
  3. As you can see in Figure 2, there’s nothing that sets a slide title apart from either the subtitle or the bullet points. For PowerPoint to understand the hierarchy of this content, you will have to format it so that there is a distinct difference within the structure of the types of content. Because Notepad allows minimal formatting with no option to apply styles or even make your text bold or bulleted, you’ll have to use tabs to organize all the text.
  4. Follow these guidelines to do so:

    • Leave all the text for the slide titles as they are.
    • For any subtitle on a slide (such as your first slide), place your cursor right in front of the line of text that you want to format and press the Tab key once on your keyboard.
    • For first-level bullets (on slides that have no subtitle), use the same approach: Place your cursor right in front of the line of text that you want to format and press the Tab key once on your keyboard.
    • For second-level bullets, place your cursor toward the front of the line of text and press the Tab key twice on your keyboard.
    • For subsequent bullet levels (third, fourth, and right up to level nine), place your cursor to the front of the relevant text content, and press the Tab key that many times (three times, four times, and up to nine times) on your keyboard.
  5. Once you finish adding the required tabs, your Notepad outline may appear similar to what you can see in Figure 3.
  6. You do realize that any outline you create in Notepad is limited to the text content of your presentation, and leaves out any pictures, tables, charts, diagrams, sound, or video elements that you may want to add to your slides later.
  7. This is actually a blessing in disguise because now you will not concentrate on all the supporting content and only work on your outline. Remember, your outline relates to your presentation in the same way as a script relates to a film or theater production. However, there is some concession you can make within the outline, especially if a table, chart, or video clip is an integral part of your message or story—in that case, add a note within parentheses to indicate that some extra content needs to be added on a particular slide, as shown highlighted in Figure 4.
  8. Save your presentation and accept that Notepad saves it as a text file with the TXT file extension.
  9. Now launch Microsoft PowerPoint 2010 (the following steps work identically in PowerPoint 2007 as well). You will notice that PowerPoint begins with a single slide, blank presentation, as shown in Figure 5.
  10. Access the Home tab of the Ribbon and click the lower part of the New Slide button to bring up the drop-down gallery that you can see in Figure 6.
  11. Select the option located toward the bottom of this gallery that says Slides from Outline.
  12. This brings up the Insert Outline dialog that can be seen in Figure 7.
  13. Browse to wherever you saved your Notepad outline, and select it (see Figure 7). Then click the Insert button.
  14. Now you’ll see new slides formed with all the text within your outline, as shown in Figure 8.
  15. To see how your outline was used, select the left pane in PowerPoint that shows slide thumbnails. Within this pane, select the Outline tab, as shown in Figure 9.
  16. You’ll find that this is the exact content that you created as an outline within Notepad. Also note that there’s a blank slide in the first position—that’s the single slide that PowerPoint launched with, as explained in Step 7. Feel free to delete that extra slide.
  17. At this point, save your presentation—from now on, you can apply a Theme to your presentation to change its look from the barebones white slide and black text. You can also add pictures, charts, tables, or media elements you need.
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