I sometimes help out clients to clean up a very large presentation. Incorrect PowerPoint use, copying and pasting of different slide masters, and a less trained eye for design/proportions create slide decks that look inconsistent and "not right".

I created the presentation design app SlideMagic in such a way, that these mistakes are hard to make. Here is the list of actions I typically go through when cleaning up big PowerPoint files. (And this is also the list of PowerPoint annoyances [well, most of them] you do not have to worry about anymore when using SlideMagic).

  • Locate the client's super clean template file and use it as a start for the presentation
  • Go in the slide master view and delete all master slides you do not need (I am usually just left with a title page and a regular slide)
  • Create slide templates with the correct title positioning for 1) empty page, 2) picture in frame page, full page picture page, and separator slide
  • Create drawing guides (left, right, top, bottom, not centre and middle)
  • Set the the default text boxes, shapes, and lines (font, colours)
  • Copy the monster presentation into this new master file
  • Select all slides in the presentation and apply the standard template slide (title, not text) to it.
  • Font replace all the incorrect fonts to the right font with one command
  • For each slide:
    • Adjust the title text, so it fits in its frame, 2 lines maximum
    • Resize shapes that should have the same height and width
    • Make sure squares and circles have a 1:1 aspect ratio
    • Reset the aspect ratio of distorted images (if possible), otherwise do it by eye
    • Re-crop images
    • Increase/decrease font sizes, adjust text if necessary
    • Tone down the colours, make sure that things that need an accent colour, have one
    • Make sure everything fits in the slide frame
    • Realign and distribute the whole slide, centre/mid-align objects that need it
    • Take out gradients
    • Take out drop shadows
    • Take out outline lines around boxes/shapes
    • Round up numbers
    • Make sure numbers line up correctly vertically
    • Apply correct colours to data charts
    • Reformat tables (colours, text alignment, uniform row heights, column widths, font sizes, make sure they fit in the slide frame)

All this work is:

  • Time consuming
  • Not the result of an original presentation designer's fault, it is just hard to get the details right
  • Probably obsolete as soon as more changes are made to the presentation

People should be spending time crafting their story, and not making basic typographical adjustments. Give SlideMagic a try!

Image: Banksy, Street Cleaner, by Dan Brady on Flickr.