Let’s say you’re creating icons for some eLearning and you’d like some letter icons. You might approach this by drawing a circle and layering a text box over the top of it or by typing the letters directly onto the shapes. For some applications, this approach might be perfectly fine, but there are a few instances where you may find this approach has shortcomings.
Shortcoming 1: You want the letter to be cut out of the icon’s shape so that you can see the background through the icon. (For example, maybe you have a gradient background and you want to see that through the icon.)
Shortcoming 2: You want to resize the icon, without saving it as a picture, and have the letter resize proportionately. Here’s what it looks like if you resize this icon with standard text on it:
Shortcoming 3: You want to fine-tune edit how the letters look, perhaps down to the point level. Maybe you like your font but you wish the characters were a bit shorter and wider. Maybe, like in this example, you also want to edit one of the characters to have a long “tail” to match the diagonal design element elsewhere on the slide.
The best way to accomplish any of the above is to convert your text to shapes using PowerPoint's Fragment tool. Here’s how.
First, insert your shape.
Insert your text box with text. For this task, you’ll want to use a text box vs typing directly onto the shape.
Select your first icon’s shape, hold down the control key, and then also select the text box. From the Format Shape tab of the ribbon, find the Insert Shapes area and choose Merge Shapes > Fragment.
Each item will become its own separate shape. In the case of this example, you’ll have three pieces.
Now you can resize the icon as one shape and even edit the points of your letter to customize to your heart’s content.
AJ Walther, COTP, is IconLogic's Chief Creative Officer (CCO), a seasoned online trainer, eLearning graphic designer, and author of both "PowerPoint 2007: The Essentials" and "PowerPoint 2008 for the Macintosh: The Essentials." AJ made her own interdisciplinary studies major, focusing on writing and art.
Do you work for an organization that uses many charts? Do all of those charts need to be formatted to match specific corporate branding? Does this take you ages? Utilizing PowerPoint's custom Chart Templates might just save you a lot of time.
Create a Chart Template
Insert a chart in PowerPoint
Format the chart to reflect your company's branding guidelines.
Ensure the chart is selected (it will have a gray border) and choose Chart Tools Design > Save As Template.
Give the chart template a name. (PowerPoint will automatically save the chart template where it needs to go.)
Repeat this process for all charts that need a template. (You won't be able to apply a chart template to a different kind of chart, so you'll need to do this for every type of chart you plan to use.)
Apply a Saved Chart Template
Select a chart that requires your corporate formatting.
From the Ribbon, choose Chart Tools Design > Change Chart Type.
From the Change Chart Type dialog box, select theTemplates folder from the categories at the left.
From the My Templates area, hover over each chart to view its chart name.
Choose your desired chart template and click the OK button.
You might have to do some additional formatting based upon the amount of information in your chart, but overall this process should save you a lot of design time.
Share a Chart Template With Your Team
There are a few ways that you could distribute your chart template to others on your team. Here is one of the easiest ways:
Send a presentation to everyone on your team that would need to utilize the chart template. (Keep in mind that the template needs to includes one properly formatted chart of every type your company may need to use.)
Instruct your team to follow the instructions above to save the Chart Templates to their systems.
And that's it... everyone should now have readily available chart templates on their systems.
What came first, the chicken or the egg? Wait... before answering that, let's rework that classic question with this: what comes first, the eLearning or the PowerPoint presentation?
When developing eLearning, the content is often created in Microsoft PowerPoint first. I'm not going to get into what it takes to create visually compelling PowerPoint presentations (we have a mini course for that). Instead, I'm going to show you how to take existing PowerPoint content and quickly re-purpose it for eLearning.
You can import PowerPoint slides into an existing Captivate project or create a new project that uses the PowerPoint slides. During the import process, Captivate includes the ability to create a link between a Captivate project and PowerPoint presentation. Using this workflow, any changes made to the original PowerPoint presentation can be reflected in the Captivate project.
Note: Microsoft PowerPoint must be installed on your computer before you can import PowerPoint presentations into Captivate. Also, the ability to import PowerPoint presentations isn't new. In fact, Captivate has supported PowerPoint imports for years. If you're using a legacy version of Captivate (even version 4 and 5), the steps below will work for you just fine.
To create a new project from a PowerPoint presentation, choose File > New Project > Project From MS PowerPoint and open the PowerPoint presentation.
The Convert PowerPoint Presentations dialog box opens, offering a few controls over how the presentation is imported.
The On mouse click option adds a click box to each Captivate slide. The other available option, Automatically, results in Captivate slides that, when viewed by a learner, automatically move from slide to slide every three seconds. At the lower right of the dialog box, there are options for High Fidelity and Linked.
During a standard import process, PowerPoint pptx presentations are first converted to the ppt format and then converted to SWF. If you select High Fidelity, the import process takes native pptx files directly to Captivate SWF (the ppt conversion is skipped). This option, which is available only in Captivate for Windows, results in the best-looking content in Captivate, but it takes much longer to complete the import process.
The Linked option creates a link between the PowerPoint presentation and the new Captivate project. The link allows you to open the PowerPoint presentation from within Captivate. Additionally, any changes made externally to the PowerPoint presentation can be reflected in the Captivate project with a few mouse clicks.
After the PowerPoint slides are imported into Captivate, you can add Captivate objects such as captions, highlight boxes, or animations.
If you need to edit the PowerPoint slides, choose Edit > Edit with Microsoft PowerPoint > Edit Presentation. The Presentation will open in a window that can best be described as a union between Captivate and PowerPoint. If you've used PowerPoint before, you will recognize the familiar PowerPoint interface.
There are two buttons you wouldn't normally see if you opened the presentation directly in PowerPoint: the Save and Cancel buttons at the upper left of the window. Once you have edited the PowerPoint slides, click the Save button and the changes will appear in the Captivate project.
If the PowerPoint presentation has been edited outside of Captivate, (perhaps your subject matter expert is adding or removing content from the presentation) you can still get the changes. Choose Window > Library. On the Library, notice that there is a Status column.
A red button will indicate that the PowerPoint slides within the Captivate project are no longer synchronized with the PowerPoint presentation. A simple click on the red button will update the Captivate slides.
Next week: Articulate Storyline and PowerPoint.
Looking for instructor-led training on Adobe Captivate? Check out our live, online, instructor-led Captivate classes.
Previously I shared some tips for creating your own great looking flat design eLearning. A recurring trend in flat design is the use of simplified icons in lieu of detailed drawings, images, or photos. Many icons can be found by inserting symbols or certain Clip Art images from within PowerPoint. Creating your own icons from scratch is also not terribly difficult. As an alternative, I'd like to share a fun (and free!) tool for quickly creating and customizing icons for use in eLearning.
Iconion is a free download that is still currently in Beta. After you've downloaded Iconion, you can choose from a large array of icons from four different icon font sets: Typeicons, Linecons, Font Awesome, and Entypo.
To create an icon, simply select an icon from the left of the Iconion window, preview it in the center panel, and then add a style from the right panel. The styles are many and varied and, in addition to looking great in your eLearning, would blend seamlessly with Windows and iOS. After you've chosen a style, you can make stylistic tweaks to fills, background colors, gradients, blurs, etc. From there you can save your icon to your desktop in a number of fully scalable sizes. Fast, easy, and great looking!
Here's an example of how I incorporated some icons from Iconion into the slide deck for an online training course here at IconLogic:
There are many reasons you may want to globally change every instance of a font in a PowerPoint presentation. Maybe you inherited a presentation from someone else and it needs a little work. Maybe you've had a change of heart about your own design choice. Maybe a client would prefer a different font. Whatever the case, manually changing every occurrence of a font could become a time-consuming task. Luckily, PowerPoint comes with a quick and easy tool to handle the heavy lifting for you. Here's how to use the Replace Fonts tool:
From PowerPoint's ribbon, choose Home > Editing and click the down arrow next to Replace to view more options.
From the Replace drop-down menu, choose Replace Fonts to open the Replace Font dialog box.
From the Replace drop-down menu, choose the font you'd like to find and replace.
From the With drop-down menu, choose your new font.
Click the Replace button.
Just like that, you've replaced every instance of the original font!
If you are sending your PowerPoint presentation off to be viewed on another system that is not yours, you may be concerned that this other system won't have the same fonts. No need to lose any sleep over what your final design will look like. If you've used TrueType fonts, you can embed them into your presentation and send them along with it.
TrueType fonts can be identified by a TT next to the font name in the font drop-down menu of PowerPoint. The fonts outlined in red below are all TrueType fonts.
Here's how to embed TrueType fonts in a PowerPoint presentation:
From the PowerPoint ribbon, choose File > Options.
Select the Save category at the left.
From the Preserve fidelity when sharing this presentation: area, select (check) Embed fonts in the file.
Choose the option under Embed fonts in the file that applies best to your situation. The first option will help keep the file size small; but if the person you are sending the presentation to will be making edits, you may need to select the second option.
Click the OK button to close the PowerPoint Options dialog box.
Now you can rest assured that your fonts will survive the trip to another computer system.
Want more free images for your eLearning or PowerPoint presentations? How about over a MILLION more? In December of last year, the British Library released into the public domain a huge collection of scanned images from more than 65,000 books spanning the 16th to 19th centuries. Yes, that's right, I said public domain. That means these images are free to use, share, and modify in any way that you see fit. The library asks only that you help to populate the metadata for the images to help make them more easily searchable--and to help spread the knowledge.
The project is called the Mechanical Curator and is housed on a tumblr page that purports to post a randomly selected small illustration or ornamentation from these antiquated books. All of the images can be found on the British Library's flickr feed.
Think these images are a little too old school for anything you'll be designing? Think again. Just for funsies I threw together a little eLearning layout by using the British Library's free images. Here's what I came up with:
The great thing about these images is that most all of them go together cohesively. And that "B" I used? I was able to find every letter I searched for, in a variety of styles. That could lead to endless designs... for free! Design on, friends.
Last week I shared a method for creating a table with rounded corners in PowerPoint. While that method did have its benefits, it could be a bit time consuming and there was no easy way to uniformly adjust the slope of the curved edges. Here's an alternate method for creating tables with rounded corners using PowerPoint for Windows. It's a bit faster and allows for easy corner editing.
Insert the Table as an Image Fill
In PowerPoint, select a table (the thick gray table border should be visible).
Right-click the thick border of the table, choose Save as Picture, give the image a name, and save it to your computer.
On a new slide, from the ribbon, choose Insert > Illustrations > Shapes > Rounded Rectangle to insert a rounded rectangle shape that is roughly the same size as your original table.
Right-click the rounded rectangle and choose Format Shape.
From the Line Color category at the left, choose No Line.
From the Fill category at the left, choose Picture or texture fill.
From the Insert from area, click the File button.
Navigate to where you have saved your table image and Insert it. (Ensure Tile picture as texture is not selected.)
Your table is inserted and has easily adjustable rounded corners thanks to the yellow handle on the top left corner.
To make edits to the table, you'll need to return to the original table, make edits, and then re-save and re-insert as a shape image fill.
Do you prefer the Paste Special method or the Shape Image Fill method? Do you have another method you like to use? Feel free to post comments below.
You've created a PowerPoint slide with a table showing quarterly service subscriptions for your three regional divisions.
You feel good about it, but when you show the higher ups they say, "That's great pal, but we want to take the company look in a more rounded direction. Go ahead and round out those corners." You of course say "No problem!" but when you get back into PowerPoint you realize that there is no option to round out the corners of a table.
There may not be a direct way to insert a table with rounded edges, but there are two easy ways to get the job done. I'll cover one method this week and the second next week.
The first option is to edit the pieces of the table.
In PowerPoint, select your table so the thick gray table border is visible.
On your keyboard, press [ctrl] [x] to cut the table to the clipboard.
From the Ribbon, choose Home > Paste > Paste Special to open the Paste Special dialog box.
From the Paste As: area, select Picture (Windows Metafile) and click the OK button.
With the pasted table selected, press [ctrl] [shift] [g] on your keyboard twice to convert the picture to a drawing object and ungroup it.
Click outside of the table to de-select all of its pieces.
On your keyboard, hold down the [shift] key as you click the shapes making up each of the four corners of the table (and then release the [shift] key).
From the ribbon, choose Drawing Tools Format > Insert Shapes > Edit Shape > Change Shape and select the Round Single Corner Rectangle. (Hovering over each shape will reveal the tooltip with the shape's name.)
The top right cell is now nice and rounded, but the other three cells' shapes are facing the wrong direction. You'll fix that next.
Click the top left cell of your table and, from the ribbon, choose Home > Drawing > Arrange > Rotate > Flip Horizontal.
Click the bottom left cell of your table and, from the ribbon, choose Home > Drawing > Arrange > Rotate > Flip Vertical and then, with the same cell still selected, choose Home > Drawing > Arrange > Rotate > Flip Horizontal.
Click the bottom right cell of your table, and from the ribbon, choose Home > Drawing > Arrange > Rotate > Flip Vertical.
Drag over all of the table's pieces, and then, on your keyboard, press [ctrl] [g] to group the table back into one piece.
The benefit of going this route is that you can easily edit the text and colors on the table. The downsides are: 1) this method is a bit time consuming and 2) if you want those corners rounded more, it will take even more time to ensure that all of the corners are rounded the same. I'll cover a second method to get the job done next week, so check back then!