Tuesday, March 20, 2012

PowerPoint Aspect Ratios and Custom Masters

Jeremy Williams, Sr. Director, Modern Workplace

For those of you who have seen a few PowerPoints in your day, you might know exactly what I’m about to complain talk about…  You know those black bars that you see on the side of some presentations, the ones that make it look something like:


If those really bother you, then you’re probably the kind of person that hates watching your favorite TV show like Modern Family, Happy Endings, Grey’s Anatomy, <insert your favorite show here> when the aspect ratio is wrong.  Who wants to see the actors all squished and squashed, or miss potentially amusing things happening on the fringes of the frame.  (Alas, I digress…)  If you’re still with me and don’t know what I’m talking about, I’m referring to the fact that some people will use the zoom/aspect feature on their TV to remove the black bars, but at the expense of the proper ratio (thereby cropping part of the picture off the screen and/or messing with the pixel ratios making everything wider, fuzzier, and just plain awful-err (yes, I just said awful-er). 

So when you see a PowerPoint presentation, and it has those black bars on it, don’t you wonder if there’s a way to fix that?  You guessed it, there is a way!  And it’s surprisingly easy.  Simply navigate to your PowerPoint presentation, click on the Design Tab, then press the ‘Page Setup’ button and then select your ‘Slides sized for:…” Value.  As a cheat-sheet, if you’re presenting on a full HD screen (1920x1080), you’ll want to select 16:9.


Now that’s all well and good since it’ll get rid of those dreaded black bars.


As you can see, it works stupendously if you’re using a design that has elements that ratio-scale well…What’s that mean?  Abstract and generic lines that don’t form recognizable shapes.  If, however, you have your company logo in your design, you’ll notice something alarming happens when you resize your presentation.

Before: image

After: image

Well now, that’s a bit annoying (not to mention it looks really bad during your presentation).  So, what’s the fix?  Easy, you’ll simply duplicate your slide design and name it 16x9.  Once you’ve created a new slide design, you’ll need to go in and edit the masters to correct the scaling rations.  After that, you’ll be all set!

riiiiiiiiggggghhhhhhhttttttttt…  So you want to know how to do that now eh?  Well, it’s actually pretty easy.

  1. Open up a new presentation and select your design of interest, in my case it’s the ‘Rightpoint v1.0’ theme.
  2. Change your page setup to the 16x9 ratio
  3. Go to the slide master view (On the View tab)
    • image
  4. You’ll see all of the possible slide layouts on the left hand side of the screen.  Systematically go through them and correct the scaling ratios. 
    • Before: image
    • After: image
  5. When you’re finished, click ‘Close Master View’
    • image
  6. Then click on the Design tab, click on the design-dropdown, and choose ‘Save the current theme’.  Give it a name and share it with whomever you need, and feel free to reuse this every time you’re doing a 16x9 persentation
    • image

As always, I hope this was helpful…  Now go forth and bring correct aspect-ratios upon the world.