How to Make a PowerPoint Presentation

Create a basic PowerPoint presentation to share information

PowerPoint presentation on display

 gorodenkoff / Getty Images

From grade school to professional offices, presentations are often required to communicate information in a clear, illustrated format. There are several pieces of software out there to create presentations, but one of the most robust (and prevalent) is Microsoft PowerPoint. Here are the basic steps to get you started creating your very own PowerPoint presentation.

The instructions included in this article are valid for PowerPoint 2019, 2016, and Office 365.

Create a PowerPoint Presentation

  1. Open PowerPoint. The program may default to opening a blank presentation. If so, click File > New at the top left to see your options for creating a new presentation.

    You can have Microsoft walk you through some of the most popular PowerPoint features by selecting the Welcome to PowerPoint file from the New menu to take a tour of the features of PowerPoint.

    The New option in PowerPoint.
  2. Select either a Blank Presentation or choose one of the Microsoft-supplied design themes to create your presentation. These themes will come with a matching color palate and fonts to help you create a document with a cohesive look.

    If you choose a blank presentation, PowerPoint will create a one-slide presentation that starts with a title slide. You can then click into any of the text boxes on the Title Slide to add your own text.

    A blank PowerPoint presentation.
  3. Add more slides to your presentation by selecting New Slide in the Home Ribbon. You can also right-click in the Slide Sorter bar on the left-hand side and select New Slide from there.

    The New Slide option in PowerPoint.
  4. You can change the Layout of a slide by clicking on Layout in the Slides section of the Home Ribbon. This gives some default options for content layout in your slides, which you can always resize or delete if you want to do something different.

    The Layout option in PowerPoint.
  5. Repeat these steps until you have enough slides to finish your presentation.

Now that you've created the framework of your presentation, you can use some basic operations to make it a little more interesting.

Adding Text and Images to a PowerPoint Presentation

  1. If you selected a pre-determined Layout for your slide that includes text or image elements you can simply click on any element. Clicking on a text box will open it for editing, which allows you to type or paste your own content into the text box. General content boxes have icons to click to insert objects including:

    • Tables
    • Charts
    • SmartArt
    • Pictures
    • Video
    Adding text and objects to a PowerPoint presentation.
  2. You can add a text box to a slide by selecting Insert on the Ribbon and clicking Text Box. Click to place your box and begin typing. This will take you back to the Home section of the Ribbon which includes text formatting options like font, size, bold, italics, color, and alignment. The text editing buttons are only available when a text box is selected.

    You can also resize a text box by grabbing (click and hold with a mouse) one of the adjustment handles on the outside of the text box, then dragging that adjustment handle until the text box is the desired size.

    The text options in PowerPoint.
  3. You can add an image using the Insert option on the Ribbon and the Images toolbox. You have four options to choose from:

    • Pictures is the most straightforward option, opening a file browser to navigate to the photo on your computer you wish to use.
    • Online Pictures will open a browsing window to allow you to Search Bing for an image online, or to use OneDrive to access your personal photos.
    • Screenshot allows you to quickly capture part of your screen and add it to your presentation. This is especially handy for double monitor users.
    • Photo Album allows you to access a group of photos on your computer, however you may have to create the album first. The benefit of this feature is that photos can be saved in the album with captions, which will accompany the photo in your presentation.
  4. Adding other objects is also done through the Insert option on the Ribbon. You can drag and create Shapes, SmartArt, and Charts.

Saving and Sharing a PowerPoint Presentation

Don't leave that beautiful new presentation without saving it! And chances are you'll want to share it with someone, or put it out where you can access it easily. Here's how:

  1. Save your presentation by clicking File > Save As.

    You also have the option to select Save as Adobe PDF from this menu.

    The Save As option in PowerPoint.
  2. If you're a OneDrive user, you can select to save directly to OneDrive for easy access and sharing.

    How to save to OneDrive in PowerPoint.
  3. Select File > Share to see options to quickly share your presentation. Depending on your other software, PowerPoint will allow you to share via OneDrive, Email, and other options.

    The Sharing options in PowerPoint.

These basic PowerPoint functions are consistent across current versions of PowerPoint for both PC and Mac, as well as Office 365. Office 2010 and older versions may vary slightly in paths and naming conventions for these steps, but they are all capable of helping you create a basic presentation.