The 10 Most Common PowerPoint Terms

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Whether you're new to PowerPoint or need a quick refresher, here's a list of the 10 most common PowerPoint terms. Knowing these can make using the program easier and help you create your very best presentations.

1. Slide, slideshow

Each page of a PowerPoint presentation is called a slide. The default orientation of the slide is landscape, which means that the printed slide is 11 inches wide by 8-1/2 inches tall. You can add text, graphics, and/or pictures to the slide to enhance its appeal and illustrate your point.

Think back to the days of the old-fashioned slideshow that used a slide projector. PowerPoint produces an updated version of sorts. Slideshows can comprise text and graphics or be completely covered by a single picture, as in a photo album.

2. Bullet or bulleted-list slide

Bullets are small dots, squares, dashes, or graphic objects that begin a short descriptive phrase. The bulleted list slide is used to enter key points or statements about your topic. When creating the list, hitting the Enter key adds a new bullet for the next point you want to add.

3. Design template

Think of a design template as a coordinated package deal. When you decorate a room, you use colors and patterns that all work together. A design template acts in much the same way. Even though different slide types can have different layouts and graphics, the design template ties the whole presentation together in an attractive package.

4. Slide layouts, slide types

The terms slide type and slide layout are used interchangeably. PowerPoint has a few types of slides/slide layouts. Depending on the type of presentation you are creating, you may use several different slide layouts or just keep repeating the same few.

Slide types/layouts include, for example:

  • title slides
  • bulleted-list slides
  • content slides (for adding charts, pictures, and tables)

5. Slide views

  • Normal view: Also commonly known as slide view. It is the main working window in the presentation. The slide is shown at its full size on the screen.
  • Outline view: Shows all the text of all slides, in a list on the left of the PowerPoint screen. No graphics display in this view. Outline view is useful for editing and can be exported as a Word document to use as a summary handout.
  • Slide sorter view: A window in PowerPoint that displays thumbnail versions of all your slides, arranged in horizontal rows. This view is useful for making global changes to several slides at one time. Rearranging or deleting slides is easy to do in slide sorter view.
  • Notes view: Shows a smaller version of a slide with an area underneath for notes. Each slide is created on its own notes page. The speaker can print these pages out to use as a reference while making the presentation. The notes do not show on the screen during the presentation.

6. Task Pane

Located on the right side of the screen, the task pane changes to show options that are available for the current task that you are working on. For example, when choosing a new slide, the slide layout task pane appears; when choosing a design template, you'll see the slide design task pane, and so on.

7. Transition

Slide transitions are the visual effects as one slide changes to another. PowerPoint offers several different transitions, such as fade and dissolve.

8. Animations and animation schemes

In Microsoft PowerPoint, animations are visual effects applied to individual items such as graphics, titles or bullet points, rather than to the slide itself.

You can apply preset visual effects to paragraphs, bulleted items, and titles from a variety of animation groupings — namely, Subtle, Moderate and Exciting. Using an animation scheme (PowerPoint 2003 only) keeps your project consistent in its look and is a quick way to enhance your presentation.

9. PowerPoint viewer

The PowerPoint Viewer is a small add-in program from Microsoft. It allows a PowerPoint presentation to be played on any computer, even one that doesn't have PowerPoint installed. It can run as a separate program and can be added to the list of files when you choose to package your presentation.

10. Slide master

The default design template when starting a PowerPoint presentation is a plain, white slide, called the slide master. You create all the slides in a presentation using the fonts, colors, and graphics in the slide master, with the exception of the title slide (which uses the title master). Each new slide that you create takes on these aspects.