PowerPoint for Teachers [10 Tips & Tricks]


If Microsoft Word was a favourite among teachers in the past, the new PowerPoint will be your next best friend.

PowerPoint in the classroom is a versatile and intuitive tool with powerful functions that are not limited to presentations only. From posters to flyers, to flashcards, and courses with YouTube videos, the list of things you can do with it is endless. So, here are some useful PowerPoint tips for teachers from a professional PowerPoint presentation writer:

1. Change slide size

When you first open PowerPoint, it is set as a default to the Standard (4:3) slide size. But all other sizes are available. If you end product is going to be a video for example, you’d better go for the Widescreen size, as most TV screens are that size.

  • Go to the Design tab.
  • Click on Slide Size. Choose Widescreen (16:9).


  • Click on Custom Slide Size.
  • Choose your custom settings from the pop-up window. 

2. Duplicate

Instead of copying objects (shapes, text boxes, pictures, anything) and then pasting them, you can use this much easier method.

  • Hold Control while you click and drag on an object: an exact object will be made. 

3. Capture screenshots

For all demo purposes, PowerPoint now has a tool that will take a snapshot of your screen and drop it directly into the slide you are editing.

  • Go to the Insert tab.
  • Click on the Screenshot icon. You’ll see thumbnails of all your open windows.
  • Click on a window thumbnail to capture the entire window.


  • Click on the Screen Clipping tool to select part of the window. 
PowerPoint for Teachers
PowerPoint for Teachers: capture screenshots

4. Make perfectly regular shapes

If you have tried to create a shape, you will have noticed that there are no regular shapes available. For example, there is a rectangle but there is no square. Here is how to create them.

  • Go to the Insert tab.
  • Click on Shapes and select your preferred one.
  • Hold down Shift while creating the shape and it will be perfectly regular. 
PowerPoint for Teachers
PowerPoint for Teachers: make perfectly regular shapes

5. Combine shapes

Not only can you create your favourite shapes, but you can mix and match them as well.

PowerPoint for Teachers
PowerPoint for Teachers: combine shapes
  • Select all the objects.
  • Click on the Drawing Tools Format tab.
  • Use the Merge Shapes dropdown menu to choose your preferred combination. The tool works with text and images as well. 

6. Align your graphics

PowerPoint for Teachers
PowerPoint for Teachers: align your graphics

PowerPoint has a whole menu for aligning your objects. Align them to the slide or to each other.

  • Select all the objects you want to align.
  • Go to the Drawing Tools Format tab.
  • From the Align dropdown menu select the alignment you want.

7. Add gridlines and guides

PowerPoint for Teachers
PowerPoint for Teachers: add gridlines and guides

Another way to align your graphics is to do it visually. Just turn on the available tools: rulers, gridlines, and guides.

  • Go to the View tab.
  • Tick the Gridlines box or the Guide boxes.
  • You can drag the guides around by clicking on them.
  • Right click on a gridline to open the Grid and Guides settings window. You can choose to snap objects to the grid, and also the spacing between the grids. 

8. Remove picture backgrounds

PowerPoint for Teachers
PowerPoint for Teachers: remove picture backgrounds

Isolate an image from its background to create a flashcard. PowerPoint does an excellent job with just one click. If you are not happy with the result, you can use the available tools to correct and refine.

  • Select the image.
  • Go to the Picture Tools Format tab.
  • Click Remove Background.
  • Use the Mark Areas to Keep and Mark Areas to Remove tools for stylistic corrections.

9. Create a video with PowerPoint

PowerPoint for Teachers
PowerPoint for Teachers: create video

The Mix tab is the most recent addition. It can help you output your slides to video with three very simple steps. A real time saver.

  • Go to the Mix tab.
  • Click on Export to Video.
  • Choose the video size. Sizes range from 240p for portable devices to 1080p for full HD.
  • Click Next to start the creation of your MP4 video. 

10. PowerPoint for Teachers: Output to a different format

PowerPoint for Teachers
PowerPoint for Teachers: output to a different format

Your PowerPoint presentation doesn’t have to be a presentation at all. You can save it in a number of other formats that fit all purposes.

You can save it as a PDF if you want to make a flyer, leaflet or simple document. Alternatively, you can save it as a JPEG if you are making a classroom poster.

If your project is going online, save it as a PNG for better quality or even as a GIF. Finally, if your project is going to the printers, you may want to consider the TIFF option with the highest resolution available.

  • First save your presentation.
  • Click on File and then Save As.
  • Click on the Save as Type menu to open the available options.

If you want to get more creative and create a more natural presentation, consider the following PowerPoint tips and tricks from HubSpot:

  1. Don’t let PowerPoint decide how you use PowerPoint. Microsoft wanted to provide PowerPoint users with a lot of tools. But this does not mean you should use them all.
  2. Create custom slide sizes. While you usually can get away with the default slide size for most presentations, you may need to adjust it for larger presentations on weirdly sized displays.
  3. Edit your slide template design. Often, it’s much easier to edit your PowerPoint template before you start – this way, you don’t have design each slide by hand.
  4. Write text with your audience in mind. Great copy can make or break your presentation, so evaluating your written work from a few different angles could make you seem more persuasive. Thinking about how your text is received differentiates good presenters from the best.
powerpoint for teachers: two teachers working on a powerpoint.
  1. Use “Format Menus” to better control your objects’ designs. Format menus allow you to do fine adjustments that otherwise seem impossible. To do this, right click on an object and select the “Format” option. 
  2. Take advantage of PowerPoint’s shapes. PowerPoint provides the user with a bunch of great shape options beyond the traditional rectangle, oval, and rounded rectangle patterns, unlike even professional design programs like Adobe Creative Suite or Quark.
  3. Crop images into custom shapes. Besides creating custom shapes in your presentation, you can also use PowerPoint to crop existing images into new shapes.
  4. Present websites within PowerPoint. Third party software that integrates fully into PowerPoint’s developer tab can be used to embed a website directly into your PowerPoint using a normal HTML iframe. One of the best tools is LiveWeb, a third-party software developed independently. By using LiveWeb, you don’t have to interrupt your PowerPoint, and your presentation will remain fluid and natural.
  5. Try Using GIFs. GIFs are looped animated images used to communicate a mood, idea, information, and much more. Users add GIFs to PowerPoint to be funny or quickly demo a process.
  6. Keep it simple. PowerPoint is an excellent tool to support your presentation with visual information, graphics, and supplemental points. This means that your PowerPoint should not be your entire presentation. Keep your text and images clear and concise, using them only to supplement your message and authority. If your slides have dense and cluttered information, it will both distract your audience and make it much more likely that you will lose their attention. Keep your presentation persuasive by keeping it clean. 
  7. Embed your font files. One constant problem presenters have with PowerPoint is that fonts seem to change when presenters move from one computer to another. In reality, the fonts are not changing – the presentation computer just doesn’t have the same font files installed. When you save your PowerPoint file, you should click Save Options in the “Save As …” dialog window. Then, select the “Embed TrueType fonts” check box and press “OK.” Now, your presentation will keep the font file and your fonts will not change when you move computers.
  8. Embed multimedia. PowerPoint allows you to either link to video/audio files externally or to embed the media directly in your presentation. Embedding allows you to play media directly in your presentation. It will look much more professional than switching between windows. Embedding also means that the file stays within the PowerPoint presentation, so it should play normally without extra work.
  9. Bring your own hardware. Between operating systems, PowerPoint is still a bit jumpy. Even between differing PPT versions, things can change. One way to fix these problems is to make sure that you have the right hardware – so just bring along your own laptop when you’re presenting.
  10. Use “Presenter View.” In most presentation situations, there will be both a presenter’s screen and the main projected display for your presentation. PowerPoint has a great tool called Presenter View, which can be found in the “Slide Show” tab of PowerPoint 2010. Included in the Presenter View is an area for notes, a timer/clock, and a presentation display. Use the Presenter View option to help create a more natural presentation.

What are your favourite PowerPoint tricks?

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Education born and bred. I have worked as a teacher for many private language schools, as a test centre administrator, as a teacher trainer, as an educational consultant, and as a publisher. I am an advocate for literacy and a huge proponent of using technology in the classroom. I mostly write about English Language Teaching. I live in Oxford.



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