What is MS PowerPoint in detail

What is Microsoft PowerPoint? The most important functions at a glance

While most users are familiar with the possibilities and areas of application of Word or Excel, there is a lot of confusion about Microsoft PowerPoint. In the following article we explain what Microsoft PowerPoint is and what possibilities and functions the presentation software offers.

What do you do with PowerPoint?

In PowerPoint you can create any content on slides, which you can then present to an audience slide by slide using a projector or large screen.

Is the software also available for free?

With PowerPoint Online, Microsoft offers a free version that does not offer all functions, but can be used directly in the browser.


1. What is PowerPoint?

PowerPoint is presentation software and part of Microsoft Office. In addition to Word, Outlook and Excel, PowerPoint is likely to be one of the most frequently used programs from the Office portfolio and has a similar market dominance as Word or Excel.

background knowledge: The original version appeared in 1984 under the name Presenter for the Apple Macintosh. The manufacturer was later taken over by Microsoft and published in 1990 as PowerPoint for Windows.

1.1. These file formats are used by PowerPoint

PowerPoint uses PPTX as the file format. POTX is used for templates. Older versions (97 to 2003) still use PPT for templates and PPS for files. In addition, PowerPoint offers numerous export options for a presentation, which we will describe in detail under point 7.

The presentation software is for both Windows as well as MacOS available, the files are compatible with each other. A presentation created on the Windows PC can therefore also be played back on a Mac with PowerPoint and vice versa.

Other presentation programs such as Impress from LibreOffice or Keynote from Applecan open PowerPoint files, but do not support all functions and options. If in doubt, you should avoid using very complex functions such as animations when creating a presentation.

2. Areas of application of PowerPoint

PowerPoint is in principle for everyone Areas of application used where an overhead projector used to throw transparencies on the wallwhich should be shown to an audience as a listener.

Presentations are part of everyday office life today.

Today the presentation tool takes on this task and presents electronic slides to the audience via a projector or large screen. The content of the slides should support the topic or facts and guide them through the presentation or additionally visualize details such as quarterly figures, photos of products, processes or structures.

Typical scenarios for the use of PowerPoint as a media tool are, for example, presentations on certain topics, presentation of work results or figures (sales, profit ...), introductions to a workshop, presentation of a new product or its introduction, etc. The extensive possibilities allow the You can also use presentation software for an interactive slide show for the parents' 60th birthday.

3. How to work with Microsoft PowerPoint

Microsoft PowerPoint also works in the same way as the old overhead projector with foils, which by the user with numerous elements such as text, tables, graphics, and even videos and audios can be filled.

After starting you will see an empty slide, which you can design as you like.

You start with a blank slide

In the You will find numerous elements for the design in the menu bar such as text functions, shapes, colors, diagrams and functions for inserting images, web links, videos or audio files.

Various design elements in PowerPoint

You can not only arrange the elements as you like, but also influence their behavior. For example it is Animations make it possible that not all points appear immediately for a list, but point by point. The presenter then has to press a key at a time for the new points to appear. Further animation options are, for example, “fly in”, “zoom” or “fade”.

Animations in PowerPoint

Less is more: There are always presentations that are overloaded with animations and effects. Many listeners are annoyed by too much animation. You should therefore be careful with the options. In our article Good Powerpoint Presentation: Tips and Tricks you will find numerous pieces of advice and design hints to make your presentation a successful one.

To make working with slides easier, PowerPoint already offers various slide layouts for the introduction, text and content, images, comparisons, etc.

Slide layouts for various design specifications of a slide

For a uniform appearance, PowerPoint also offers numerous templateswhich use the same fonts, colors and design elements.

You can choose from numerous templates with different designs.

You can You can also use a slide master to create your own templates that match your company's corporate design and uses recurring elements such as the company logo or the colors used on all foils.

Customize layouts of the slide master

You can find them on the Internet further templates, some of which are free of charge. For example, Microsoft offers Office 365 premium templates for PowerPoint free of charge to subscribers.

More templates from Microsoft

4. PowerPoint offers these possibilities

In addition to simple slides with text and images, PowerPoint offers many other design options. For example, you can create a timeline and use it to better visualize the sequence of processes or events.

For more structure - especially with extensive presentations - PowerPoint also offers the option of creating an agenda with a few tricks.

Example of a simple agenda

For The WordArt function is also available in PowerPoint for text effects of all kinds. It generates 3D text with fills, contours and drop shadows, and can also be individually adapted using various types of shapes.

WordArt is included with all Microsoft Office programs

4.1. Organization charts, lists, processes and diagrams

If you want to create organizational charts in PowerPoint, the SmartArt function will help you. With the help of this tool, which is available in all Office programs, you can easily create organizational charts with different hierarchy levels or pyramids.

SmartArt for diagrams, organizational charts and more

Also for The SmartArt tool offers suitable templates for processes, lists, cycles or relationships.

SmartArt cycle

The counterpart to SmartArt is that Diagram function. With their help, you can visualize all kinds of numberswithout first having to create the diagram in Excel.

PowerPoint offers its own diagram function

Once you select a chart type, PowerPoint displays a table for the categories and number serieswhich you can fill out. You can change the form of the display using various quick templates in the function bar, change the colors using color combinations that have already been coordinated, and also change the data and column values ​​directly.

Table of values ​​for diagrams

4.2. Animations and Effects

Animations allow you to move any object such as text, shapes, or other elements on a slideto appear or hide. PowerPoint distinguishes between animation for the entry and exit of an object and the emphasis on an object.

There is a wide range of different animations.

The application is very simple. You mark the object in question and then select one of the desired animations. For each animation, you can still set the duration, delay and start of the animation.

Detailed settings for animations

Often "on click" is used here. Chain animations with “with previous” or “after previous” are also possible. You can also Define trigger events, for example when clicking on a certain word or graphic. An example of the possibilities would be a graphic in a presentation. If you click on this, the graphic will be zoomed or a larger image will appear in the presentation, which will fade again with the next click.

Another feature of animation are Animation pathsin which objects move on predetermined paths or according to patterns on the presentation. PowerPoint knows many ways to do this.

Animation paths for moving objects

Also the Transitions between individual slides can be customized. PowerPoint offers a large selection of transitions here, as is also known from video editing programs or software for slide shows.

A great choice for transitions between the slides

For experienced users, PowerPoint also offers one Macro function. You can use it to record processes and simply repeat them. You have to show the macro functions first. To do this, switch to Options under File. In the section “Customize the ribbon” you have to activate the tab “Developer”.

Show developer tools in PowerPoint

In the following video you will find a summary of the most important functions of PowerPoint.

5. Presentation of created PowerPoint files

Using the keyboard, a mouse or a special presenter then control the course of the presentation and switch from slide to slide. If animations such as “appearing” or other events are defined on a slide, these are only activated after pressing a key or on the presenter.

You can use a presenter to control the presentation in PowerPoint.

Benefits of a presenter: There are presenters on the market especially for presentations, which replace the keyboard and mouse with a radio receiver via USB. The handy devices, which also contain a color pointer, usually offer functions for “forward”, “back” as well as fade out and fade in slide. Prices start from 10 euros. Better models even have a card reader in the receiver, so they can also be used as a USB stick for presentations.

During the presentation you can either see copies of the slides on the notebook or use a special presenter view. You can see the current slide, the next slide, your comments on each slide and a timer. The viewers, on the other hand, only get the current slide displayed on the projector.

Presenter view in PowerPoint

6. Free usage options and alternatives

Microsoft PowerPoint can be used for 30 days with the free trial version of Microsoft Office in German. You can also use PowerPoint Online with a Microsoft account at https://office.live.com/. This is a stripped-down online version of the software, which is used directly in the browser, but for many tasks should already be sufficient.

PowerPoint Online is used in the browser.

A free alternative is, for example, Impress as part of OpenOffice and LibreOffice. The operation of this presentation software is based on PowerPoint, but does not offer all functions and options.

Impress as a free alternative

For Mac systems, Keynote is the first choice, which is even offered free of charge and is particularly easy to use.

Keynote on Mac and iPad

7. View Microsoft PowerPoint files without PowerPoint

If you have a Want to view the PowerPoint file without owning the program itself, there used to be a PowerPoint viewer directly from Microsoft. However, this is no longer maintained and is still up to date with Office 2010 and is only suitable for 32-bit systems. You can therefore only fall back on one of the variants mentioned under point 6.

In addition to Word Mobile and Excel Mobile, PowerPoint Mobile is also available in the store for Windows 10. This is a stripped-down version, which can be used as a viewer. However, to edit PowerPoint files in PowerPoint Mobile you need a valid subscription to Office 365.

tip: We recommend access to PowerPoint Online directly from Microsoft, as the web solution does not require installation and displays existing presentations very nicely.

Alternatively, you can also export a PowerPoint file and save it as a Target format PDF choose. The slides are then converted into a PDF page and can be viewed with any PDF viewer or even in a browser. Output as Individual images such as PNG or JPG for each slide are also possible.

Save presentations as PDF

PowerPoint is also able to export a Save the presentation as a video file. You can choose from various formats and resolutions. Like PDF, such files can be played on any device.

You can also save presentations as a video

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What is Microsoft PowerPoint? The most important functions at a glance
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