# Using Morph

It’s October 18 – Persons Day. On this day in 1929, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in Great Britain made the decision to include women under the legal definition of persons in Canada. This landmark was thanks to the efforts of the Famous Five, a group of Albertan suffragettes whose names were Henrietta Muir Edwards, Emily Murphy, Nellie McClung, Louise McKinney, and Irene Parlby.

I figured this would be a great opportunity to test out PowerPoint 2019’s morph function in order to create a presentation honouring the Famous Five. I started with an image of these women in elliptical frames, all taken at roughly the same distance. I then made four duplicates, and used PowerPoint’s Remove Background feature so that I had one image of each individual woman. I lined these up at the top of the title slide, and then duplicated the slide four times. I used the morph function to blow up each woman’s photo in turn, with each previous photo receding back up to the top row once her individual profile was clicked through.

# Morph isn’t Perfect

My plan, however, wasn’t foolproof. I noticed that in several of the transitions, the large image and the small one that replaced it would not glide towards each other’s positions. Instead, invisible versions of the original uncropped image would glide around within the crop frame, each image refocusing on its new subject independently.

# Fixing the Problem

To solve this, we took five oval shapes and sized them to fit the women’s frames as closely as possible. We then grouped each image with its oval. Now, instead of sliding around the uncropped image, the transition applied to the shape, inflating it and shrinking it as we had hoped.

This, though, allowed us to discover a new problem: on several of the transitions, the image coming to the forefront would abruptly jump through the receding image; clearly, the z-order (position in the imaginary stack of all items on the slide) was not consistent between slides. Simply picking a consistent order and applying it to all slides solved this, but it left us with one more thing to think about.

When issuing forth from the top row, or rejoining it, some of the images would glide just underneath the edges of adjacent images on their way to their final position. I felt that this did not make aesthetic sense; shouldn’t the bigger, “closer” image glide in front of the smaller ones? The thing was, though, that tweaking the z-order to avoid this inevitably led back to the other problem of images jumping through one another.  We solved this by duplicating the problematic images and aligning the duplicate directly overtop of the original; we then animated the duplicate to appear after the last morph transition, with the original disappearing at the same time. This resulted, finally, in a seamless transition.

## PowerPoint – Organizing your colours

I find it useful when creating a presentation that has a custom colour palette to create a custom layout like the one below:

You’ll note that the RGB values for the colours are listed, and this is because prior to PowerPoint 2013, the eyedropper tool was not available. I also find it tremendously helpful to note what I use each colour for, so that when I open this file in a couple of years from now there will be a little less detective work.

This post is originally from 2018 If you want help with the newest and classic features in PowerPoint drop me a line at catharine@mytechgenie.ca

## PowerPoint: Like toppings on pizza

You may never have looked at Outline View in PowerPoint. But, if you have presentation that has text you should check it out. Working in Outline View is not only the fastest way to build the outline, it creates a more robust and easily edited presentation as well.

By default, when you add text in Outline view, the text is placed in a text placeholder. Placeholder text is easier to edit than text in text boxes.

Here is a little experiment you can do.

Start by adding some text in Outline view. The default Layout “Title and Content” is used.

Here is what the slide looks like in Slides View, again the text is the same in the Slides View panel and in the slide itself.

Now try changing the layout to one without a content placeholder. The text remains in Outline View and on the placeholder in the slide. Then, move the text placeholder around and resize it.

Now, change the layout back to “Title and Content” and you’ll find the placeholder snaps back to its original position and size. If you tried recolouring the text, press the Reset button (just underneath the Layout button) and it too will revert to the default appearance set by the placeholder.

Now, compare this with the behaviour of text in text boxes.

This text is not connected with the placeholder on the slide. It is “floating” on top of the slide “like toppings on a pizza” in the poetic words of one of my former coworkers.

This lack of connection can make it harder to manage in the long run.

Note what happens when I change the layout to “Title and Content“. The text box is actually floating underneath the placeholder. What a pain for editing! Resetting the slide has no impact on text in text boxes. Also, you’ll notice that the text is not visible in Outline View, so none of those tools are available for editing either.

Does that mean that I never use text boxes?

Of course not, I use text boxes when I want to create text that will remain independent of the general formatting rules for the presentation. But since consistency in formatting is a sign of a professional presentation, I use text boxes sparingly.

This post is originally from 2016. If you want help with the newest and classic features in PowerPoint drop me a line at catharine@mytechgenie.ca

# Duotone Photos

I’ve been showing you how to use PowerPoint to quickly create stencil and lace effects. Now, let’s look at creating duotone photos. In addition to making a photo look very modern, duotone is a useful technique for using less than stellar photos.

While the cat might be photogenic, the background is not. I want to move from the photo above to the duotone below, which is suitable for adding a quote.

The first step is to crop the picture as closely as possible.

But unfortunately, once enlarged you see the photo is a little blurry. This won’t be a problem going forward and it shows how this technique can cope with less than perfect photos.

Going to Picture Corrections:
Brightness was set to 65%
Contrast to 100%

Picture Color: Saturation was set to zero.

There is a bit of guesswork here, as I had to bring up Brightness enough to wash out the dark corner of the chair the cat is on, yet leave as much detail as possible. You’ll note that this brings out a lot of light spots on the pupils as well.

Why not just Recolor the picture to Black and White? In this case, I felt that recoloring removed too much detail from the photo. In the case of a different photo, recoloring might be the quickest and easiest method. I’d definitely try it first and see if I liked the results.

I’ve drawn a rectangle and filled it with a bright colour for contrast, this has been placed under the photo.

Now I can make the white portion of the photo transparent, by selecting Picture Tools>Format>Color>Set Transparent Color and clicking on a white portion of the picture.

What’s also hard to see in the above picture is that the photo has a lot of small grey artifacts in the borders of the fur. This is exactly what we added in when making the lace picture earlier, but here it is unwanted. An additional step is required for this photo (again for some photos it might be unnecessary).

But before I do that – I’m going to use the Ink command and touch up the pupils to remove some of the glints. Ink is only available in Office 365.

After filling in the glints on the pupils, I grouped the ink layer with the photo. Then I copied and pasted the photo (and ink layer) as a picture. PowerPoint remembers all the photo editing done to a picture (which is why the Reset command works) and applies those steps cumulatively. I want to start fresh and apply the Recolor command to strip out the grey artifacts without losing a lot of detail. After recoloring the photo to 25% Black and White I set the White color to transparent

Again, I grouped the photo with bright background rectangle, pasted it as a picture and this time set the black portion as transparent. This is similar to the photo stencil.

In the final step, set a gradient fill in your chosen colour scheme to colour the duotone.

The main elements of this technique are applicable to a number of photo effects. Try them out and see what you get!

This post is originally from 2018 If you want help with the newest and classic features in PowerPoint drop me a line at catharine@mytechgenie.ca

# Ok, don’t eat the waffle chart

In a previous post, I discussed making a Button Bar Chart. That whole process really inspired me to think about simplified charts for presentations.

Which got me thinking about Waffle Charts.

Waffle charts are excellent for looking at data sets where the smallest numbers are the important ones. You can use colour (as I have above) to make those numbers stand out.

But oddly, I don’t see people using a lot of waffle charts in their presentations. And there is no template for a waffle chart in Excel.

You can find some interesting ideas about building Excel waffle charts for dashboard purposes and I recommend this article to you: Interactive Waffle Charts in Excel

However, I was looking for something different. Something that wouldn’t have me counting and colouring cells manually (shudder).

# Building the Waffle

I chose to build the waffle chart using a series of conditional formatting rules. The first step was creating the formula to count the cells of the waffle.

In case the picture is a bit small, the formula used here is:
=(MOD(ROW()+8,10)*10)+(COLUMN()-2)+1

This uses the row and column position of the cell to count from 1 to 100 in a 10 by 10 grid.

I then built on that base formula with this monster formula:

=IF((((MOD(ROW()+8,10))*10)+COLUMN()-1)<=’5 Category Waffle’!\$A\$2,’5 Category Waffle’!\$A\$2, IF((((MOD(ROW()+8,10))*10)+COLUMN()-1)<=(‘5 Category Waffle’!\$A\$2+’5 Category Waffle’!\$A\$3),’5 Category Waffle’!\$A\$3, IF((((MOD(ROW()+8,10))*10)+COLUMN()-1)<=SUM(‘5 Category Waffle’!\$A\$2:\$A\$4),’5 Category Waffle’!\$A\$4, IF((((MOD(ROW()+8,10))*10)+COLUMN()-1)<=SUM(‘5 Category Waffle’!\$A\$2:\$A\$5),’5 Category Waffle’!\$A\$5, IF((((MOD(ROW()+8,10))*10)+COLUMN()-1)<=SUM(‘5 Category Waffle’!\$A\$2:\$A\$6),’5 Category Waffle’!\$A\$6,0)))))

The sheet BTW is called 5 Category Waffle.

The formula checks the position number of the cell generated by the base formula and sees if it is less than or equal to the number of values in each category in column A. It then returns the value of the category in each cell.

Because I wanted to put symbols in the cell like these examples.

I took that monster formula and made it into a named formula.

This made building the conditional formatting rules much easier to do(simply because the conditional formatting dialog is so cramped).

Lastly, I built a series of conditional formatting rules to change the background colour of the cell based on the value returned by the formula. For the waffles using symbols, the rule formats the colour of the font, instead of the background.

# A couple of additional pointers

• To create a perfect grid, switch the view in Excel to Page Layout View. Page Layout View uses the same measurement scale for both row height and column width. Set your measurements here.
• For the symbol waffles, use the File> Options>Advanced> Display Options for this worksheet and turn off the display of gridlines. That way when you copy the waffle, the gridlines will be invisible.

This post is originally from 2018. If you want help with the newest and classic features in Excel & PowerPoint drop me a line at catharine@mytechgenie.ca

# Simple or Complicated?

Simple or complicated? It’s been my observation that anyone can make a subject sound complicated – but it takes real understanding of a topic to simplify it in a way that is meaningful.

This is why, when I saw this sample slide below from designer Julie Terberg, I sat up and paid attention. Here is a wonderful example of a chart that is simple in a beautiful and useful way. Immediately, you can see that an audience would find this chart easy to read and understand

I paid even more attention when I saw the way that Neil Malek put together an Excel version of the chart. Neil introduces a clever technique using shapes in data labels.

Unfortunately, Neil’s clever technique was only available in Office 2016. I wanted to build the chart in Office 2010, for the benefit of my clients still using 2010.

I think that in the end, I succeeded. If you are interested in building this chart, and like me you are restricted to Office 2010, then I have a few pointers for you.

# Button Bar Chart Pointers

• Data Labels in 2010 can not use shapes. Instead, I tweaked the Shadow setting for the label, by setting the colour to match the fill on the label and the size to 150%. I left all other settings to zero. Shaping the label this way means that you can never achieve the circle that Julie used in her example. Instead, the best you can do is a lozenge shape. You can modify this when you change the font size in the label.
• But once you’ve used the Shadow to enlarge your button, you can’t use it to shadow the data label. I solved this problem with an old fashioned solution. I made two charts (a 2016 and a 2017 chart). The two charts are grouped together. Each chart has a data label for the year and a data label for the shadow. In the example below those labels are using the 1 values. The column labelled 2016 value is the length of the bar.
• The Shadow column must proceed the 2016 column or your shadow will wind up on top of the 2016 label. Also format your labels in that order as well, or the shadow will temporarily be on top of the 2016 label.
• The Chart Element selector on the Format Tab of the Chart Tools ribbon is your friend. Its’ really the only reasonable way to select the shadow data labels once they are under the visible label.
• Link the label text to the cell in in Excel by using the formula bar and typing in the linking formula to the cell. This allows you to update the chart, by changing the text in the cell. A bit finicky to set up; but it will save a ton of time in the long run.
• The best way to take this chart into PowerPoint is by copying/pasting the chart – as an image. Which means that you’ll need to presize the chart in Excel, so that text is not distorted by resizing once it is pasted into PowerPoint. Again, its a bit finicky – but worth it.
• In PowerPoint, I created a layout, with text placeholders on the left and bottom of the slide.

All in all, a pretty reasonable version of Julie’s stellar design.

If you want to follow Julie Terberg and Neil Malek on Twitter, you’ll find them here.

This post is originally from 2018. If you want help with the newest and classic features in PowerPoint drop me a line at catharine@mytechgenie.ca

## Pictures and Transparency

In my last post, I mentioned I was working on a Jeopardy game in PowerPoint. In this game I want to present a series of visual clues before the answer is revealed. The audience is presented with the foreign cover for a popular book and has to guess the name of the book.

I want to slowly reveal the English book cover, by gradually making the foreign cover more transparent. With this particular cover, I also wanted to crop the foreign cover image to reveal additional clues. Each clue will be revealed by a click of the mouse.

Hmm is this a problem? I can not control image transparency in PowerPoint, there is no option for this in the Picture Tools menu.

Nope, no problem at all. You can control image transparency by:

1. Create a shape the same dimensions as your picture.
2. Remove the outline for the shape.
3. Change the fill option to Picture or Texture Fill and insert the picture file.
4. Transparency will now be available

Its’ interesting that placing a picture inside a shape allows you to manipulate that picture as if it was a shape. This concept allows me to play with things like irregularly shaped (non-rectangular) images as well.

This post is originally from 2018, looking at PowerPoint 2016. Our options for pictures and transparency have improved since then.
If you want help with the newest and classic features in PowerPoint drop me a line at catharine@mytechgenie.ca

I’ve just been working on a PowerPoint template for a Jeopardy style game. I inherited this template, and as frequently happens a little cleanup is necessary to ensure the PowerPoint template works as desired.

To help you visualize the problem – a picture of the game board

Each square hyperlinks to a separate slide with the question (and answer).

I felt there were a number of improvements I could do to make the presentation easier to use and maintain. I won’t go into every change today, but a couple of changes involved hyperlinks
(shortcut key Ctrl + K, if you are editing 25 hyperlinks, then the reason for using a shortcut key becomes obvious).

The first maintenance problem I ran into was that the previous designer had applied the hyperlink to both the shape AND the text on the shape (now there are 50 hyperlinks – if you are counting).

They did this for a very good reason; that the text on a hyperlinked shape does not change state like normal hyperlink does (the state change shows if the link has been visited or not).

So if the slides the shapes are linked to are reordered or edited, the links have to be painstakingly tracked down and edited and since essentially the links are layered one on top of each other it is a real pain.

I had a better plan. Move the button shapes to the Slide Master (after creating a layout designed for the Game Board slide). Then insert text placeholders (yes, 25 of them) for the dollar values. Position the placeholders over each button. No hyperlinks here.

Now moving back to the Game Board slide in Normal View, I can hyperlink the text box. Text boxes behave differently from shapes, and do change state to show the link has been visited.

Another advantage of the text placeholder is that if the user inadvertently moves the text boxes, the Reset command will snap them back into position. (A definitely plus when editing 25 text boxes).

The other visual difficulty I had, was with the colours of the hyperlinks themselves. They didn’t have a strong contrast with my (new) button colour, and the visited colour was still (kinda) visible. I wanted a strong link colour and once visited I wanted the link to disappear. I could add animations, but why bother when I could solve both problems easily by changing the link colours in the Color Theme.

The colours in the theme were picked after playing with the free https://coolors.co/ app I also got some good advice from this article. The image at the top of the article is the colour palette created by the Coolors.co app – translated into RGB. I usually add this information as a layout in the slide master.

This post is originally from 2018 If you want help with the newest and classic features in PowerPoint drop me a line at catharine@mytechgenie.ca

## Making Powerful Image Quotes

For those of you who haven’t had one of my seminars on using PowerPoint to create powerful image quotes for your social media feed; now’s the time to get out into the garden with your camera phone and take a few photos.

You need to create a stockpile of good background photos that you can use for fresh quotes. And summertime in your garden is a great time and place to do this.

Closeups of plants and flowers make a great background for a variety of quotes – like this one I found on the Olds Municipal Library Facebook feed.

You can see how they use a transparent overlay over part of the picture to help the text stand out.

You may not have an immediate need for those pictures, but you can set them aside for later use, like this image of purple pink chrysanthemums (my chrysanthemums are looking particularly lovely this year, due to the fact I’ve just bought them).

You don’t need a fancy camera to get these pictures, the camera on your phone will do just fine. But do make sure you take your pictures in both horizontal and vertical orientations to make sure you have more layout options later on.

Don’t just focus on flowers (hehe, see what I did there), leaves and foliage are useful too.

Don’t forget that the same picture can be used multiple ways, once you start throwing colour filters and special effects at it.

Oh, and that image has been flipped, since I like the leaves appearing on the left side of the photo better.

A final tip, when saving your image quotes, use the PNG format, it creates fewer artifacts (small jiggly lines that make text harder to read) than JPEG.

This post is originally from 2018.  If you want help with the newest and classic features in PowerPoint drop me a line at catharine@mytechgenie.ca

## PowerPoint – Making a Mask

Creating a mask effect in PowerPoint is easy, once you’ve located the Shape Combine command. You can add this command to the Ribbon or the Quick Access Toolbar.

Below, you see it being added to my toolbar.

Adding the Shape Combine Command to the Toolbar, alternately look for the Combine Shapes command as more options are available.The command will not be active until there are two shapes selected. Below, I’ve created a blue rectangle and a red oval. The oval shape will be cut out from the rectangle.

Blue rectangle with red oval positioned for the cut out. You may prefer to add the Combine Shapes command instead. More options are available as you can see below.

The result of the Shape Combine command, a rectangle with an oval “hole: in the center.

The result of the Combine Shapes CommandOnce the mask is created, you can dress it up. Below, I’ve changed the fill to an image of a leafy forest floor.

The forest floor has a hole in it. Now I can layer whatever image I wish (in this case a frog) under the mask. You can animate the layer underneath the mask. Can you image a wheel of creatures rotating into the viewpoint in the center of the mask? That would be great for a talk about ecology!

This post is originally from 2016. If you want help with the newest and classic features in PowerPoint drop me a line at catharine@mytechgenie.ca
Frog image via Wikipedia