Getting Started with PowerPoint 2010


New to PowerPoint 2010? This excerpt from Chapter 3 of Lesson 1 in my Introduction to Microsoft PowerPoint 2010 class covers starting the program, the PowerPoint window, the QuickAccess toolbar, the Ribbon, the new File tab, the Home tab, and PowerPoint Help. I hope you enjoy it!

Starting PowerPoint

Depending on your version of Windows and other installed components, you can start PowerPoint in a variety of ways. The most common way is from the All Programs menu in Windows XP, Windows Vista, or Windows 7. You can place a shortcut on your Windows Desktop or Taskbar to start PowerPoint directly from your Desktop or the Taskbar if you find that easier.

I’d like you to start PowerPoint 2010 now, using the steps below:

  1. Click Start on your Windows taskbar.
  2. Move your mouse to All Programs to open the All Programs menu.
  3. Next, click the Microsoft Office option on the All Programs menu, which will display the Microsoft Office submenu.

Microsoft Office 2007 submenu
Microsoft Office 2010 submenu

  1. Move your mouse to the Microsoft PowerPoint 2010 option, and click once to start the PowerPoint program.

The PowerPoint window displays in Normal view. Here’s an example of what my PowerPoint window looks like. Yours may look slightly different.

The PowerPoint window
The PowerPoint window

If you’ve used other versions of PowerPoint prior to PowerPoint 2007, you might be a little surprised at how different this window looks. Don’t worry—I’ll spend some time explaining this new PowerPoint interface. If you’re familiar with PowerPoint 2003, you might want to check out the Supplementary Material for a handy reference guide called Migrating to PowerPoint 2010 from PowerPoint 2003.

The PowerPoint Window

Looking at the array of buttons, tabs, and panes can be very intimidating. Even though we’re not going to tackle everything at once, I want to give you a solid foundation on which to build your understanding about this PowerPoint interface. To get started, you’ll delve into these features: the title bar, the new File tab, the Quick Access toolbar, the Ribbon with its Tabs and Groups, Normal view, the status bar, and the View buttons. Let’s jump right in and get acquainted with the title bar.

The Title Bar

Typically, when you start a program (such as PowerPoint), the program opens into a rectangular window with a colored title bar at the top. As shown in the example below, the PowerPoint window contains a colored title bar. The color of your title bar may vary depending on your version of Windows, the PowerPoint color scheme, and your monitor settings.

The PowerPoint 2010 title bar
The PowerPoint 2010 title bar

The title bar displays a set of buttons on the left. I’ll explain those in a moment. In the middle, you can see the document name (presentation name) along with the application name Microsoft PowerPoint. And on the right is a set of buttons that you can use to minimize, restore, maximize, or close PowerPoint.

Until you name your presentation, the name Presentation1 displays in the title bar. If you happen to create a second presentation before you close your PowerPoint session, the name Presentation2 displays in the title bar for that document. If you just opened PowerPoint, your title bar should display Presentation1 in the middle of the title bar, just like the above example.

Let’s talk about the buttons on the left side of the title bar now. The first button you see is the PowerPoint title bar icon. Clicking this icon opens a menu as shown below with options that let you move or change the size of the window or exit the program.

PowerPoint icon and its menu
PowerPoint icon and its menu

The Quick Access Toolbar

The Quick Access toolbar displays to the right of the PowerPoint icon on the title bar:

Quick Access toolbar
Quick Access toolbar

This toolbar contains the Save, Undo, and Redo command buttons. In addition, there’s a drop-down arrow option at the end of the toolbar called Customize Quick Access Toolbar, which I like because it allows you to customize the toolbar to add commonly used commands.

Click the Customize Quick Access Toolbar drop-down arrow to display its options.

Customize Quick Access Toolbar menu
Customize Quick Access Toolbar menu

Notice that the Save, Undo, and Redo commands have checks next to them. That means they’re already displayed on the Quick Access toolbar. To add one of the commands in the menu to the Quick Access toolbar, just select the command. For my personal copy of PowerPoint 2010, I’m going to customize the Quick Access toolbar by adding the New, Open, E-mail, Quick Print, Print Preview and Print, and Spelling commands. Feel free to customize your Quick Access Toolbar at any time throughout this course.

The More Commands option (it’s toward the bottom of the Customize Quick Access Toolbar menu) lets you add just about any other PowerPoint command to the toolbar.

Show Below the Ribbon allows you to display the Quick Access toolbar below the Ribbon rather than above it on the title bar. This option is handy if a long filename is cluttering your title bar.

Click the Customize Quick Access Toolbar drop-down arrow to close the toolbar’s drop-down menu if it’s open.

Finally, the right side of the title bar holds the Minimize, Maximize/Restore Down, and Close buttons. These are very common buttons on a title bar. You’ve probably used the Close button to close an application such as PowerPoint. Minimize temporarily hides the window from your view. The button between Minimize and Close actually has two functions: Restore Down and Maximize. Use Maximize to resize the window so it fills all the screen space. Use Restore Down to restore the window to a smaller size so you can view multiple programs at the same time, or to move or resize the window. Another way to restore or maximize a window is to double-click the title bar. Try it! Then double-click again to see what happens. And yet another way to minimize, maximize, restore, resize, or move a window is with the PowerPoint icon on the leftmost side of the title bar.

Next, let’s take a look at the Ribbon. It displays below the title bar.

The Ribbon

If you’ve used previous versions of PowerPoint prior to PowerPoint 2007, or any other program written for the Windows operating system, you might be asking yourself why Microsoft decided to change the Microsoft Office interface by replacing the menu and toolbars with the Ribbon. Microsoft believes that this interface is more intuitive. The company introduced the Ribbon with the release of Office 2007, and the PowerPoint 2010 Ribbon looks like PowerPoint 2007 with some enhancements.

The Ribbon
The Ribbon

I’ll introduce the Ribbon in this lesson. We’ll explore parts of the Ribbon in more detail throughout the rest of the course.

The Ribbon has the following tabs: File, Home, Insert, Design, Transitions, Animations, Slide Show, Review, and View.

The File Tab

The File tab (the Office button in PowerPoint 2007) gives you options to manage and organize your files. When you click the tab, a list displays with these commands: Save, Save As, Open, Close, Info, Recent, New, Print, Save & Send, Help, Add-Ins, Options, and Exit. (Add-Ins may not appear on your file tab.) You’ll get a chance to work with some of these options in this class. Microsoft calls the list of options in this menu the Backstage View.

Click the File tab to view the File menu. Most likely, the Info option is highlighted in this Backstage View.

The File tab menu or list
The File tab menu or list

Click the File tab again to close the File menu.

You may have used some of these options in the File menu for other programs. Here’s a brief explanation of the commands on the File tab. Please feel free to post a question for me in the Lesson 1 Discussion Area if any of these commands are confusing.

Save: Save changes to a presentation.

Save As: Use this command to save a presentation for the first time, save to another folder or drive, or save with a different format (such as an older version of PowerPoint or as a Web page).

Open: Open a saved presentation.

Close: Close the presentation, but not PowerPoint.

Info: This is the Backstage View you may see when you click the File tab. Here you see information about the open presentation. Some useful information includes the author of the document—which in many cases would be you—as well as the last modified date and the creation date of the presentation, among other things.

Recent: This option displays Recent Presentations and Recent Places, making it easy to find presentations you’ve recently worked on.

New: Create a new presentation.

Print: Choose a printer or change the print options.

Save & Send: There are lots of goodies with this option, including sending your presentation as an e-mail attachment, saving your presentation as a PDF file, creating a video, and more.

Help: This command presents ways to contact Microsoft Help.

Add-Ins: Clicking this shows you a list of software programs that extend the capabilities of PowerPoint. For instance, some add-ins make it easier to embed video or tweak narration timings. Some of these programs cost money; others are free. If you already have one or more add-ins installed, you’ll see this command on the File tab or on the Ribbon.

Options: Change some of the PowerPoint settings.

Exit: Close PowerPoint when you’re done working with the program.

The Home Tab

The Home tab, which contains commonly used commands, displays when you start PowerPoint. To make sure your Home tab is the active tab, click the Home tab on the Ribbon.

All tabs except for the File tab have multiple groups. For example, the groups on the Home tab are Clipboard, Slides, Font, Paragraph, Drawing, and Editing. If you look closely at the groups on the Home tab, you’ll see that some of them have an arrow in the lower-right corner of the group. This arrow is a dialog box launcher. This launcher opens a dialog box for a group. For example, if I want to edit some selected text on a slide, I could click the Font dialog box launcher to open the Font dialog box. Then I could use the commands in that dialog box.

Font dialog box
Font dialog box

Click each one of the tabs on the Ribbon to see the groups that display. How many of the groups have a dialog box launcher? Don’t be concerned if a dialog box doesn’t display when you click one of these launchers. PowerPoint will display the dialog box if it’s a valid time to do so. For example, when you first start PowerPoint, the Font, Paragraph, and Drawing dialog box launchers are inactive because you haven’t typed anything onto a PowerPoint slide. Once you click a slide, some of the dialog box launchers become active.

Let’s talk a bit more about the tabs and groups on the Home tab of the Ribbon, starting with the Clipboard group. This is the first group on the Home tab. It’s where you’ll find the Cut, Copy, Paste and Format Painter commands and the Clipboard dialog box launcher. Notice the down arrow below the Paste command. Clicking this arrow gives you available Paste options.

The Clipboard dialog box launcher opens the Clipboard task pane. In this task pane, you’ll see things that have been copied to the Clipboard with the Cut or Copy commands. With a list of cut and copied items, you can easily paste items onto your slides or into other Microsoft programs, since the Clipboard is a shared feature. Here’s what the Clipboard task pane looks like before you cut or copy any items.

Empty Clipboard task pane
Empty Clipboard task pane

note Note A task pane is a special pane that displays on the left or right side of the PowerPoint window. You will work with task panes in this class.



The next group on the Home tab is the Slides group, which you can use to add a new slide to your presentation, choose or change a slide layout, reset slide formatting, and create slide sections (a new feature in PowerPoint 2010). The arrow on the New Slide button allows you to choose a slide layout when you create a new slide. The button also displays these menu options: Duplicate Selected Slides, Slides from Outline, and Reuse Slides.

note Note If you open one of these lists or dialog boxes, you may use the ESC key on your keyboard to close the list or dialog box.



Next, we see the Font group, which allows you to change or choose the formatting of your text on the slides. By clicking the launcher and launching the Font dialog box, you’ll find more formatting choices. If you’re curious about what the commands are, simply point to a command with your mouse. Let’s give it a try.

Point to the B icon within the Font group. You’ll see that a tip displays below your mouse informing you that you’re pointing at the Bold button. The tip also tells you that CTRL + B is the keyboard shortcut for Bold. In addition, there’s a more descriptive explanation, stating that the purpose of this command is Make the selected text bold. This tip is an example of an Enhanced ScreenTip.

note Note To change or check the ScreenTip options, click the File tab, and then click the Options button. Click the General link, and look for the ScreenTip style options—there are three of them. Play around with the options and choose the one you would like to use.



To the right of the Font group is the Paragraph group, which holds useful commands to help you format your paragraphs. If you can’t find what you want in this group, try the Paragraph dialog box launcher for more options.

The Drawing group follows the Paragraph group on the Home tab. Here you’ll find all kinds of fun commands to draw and format shapes on your slides. PowerPoint used to call these shapes AutoShapes.

The last group on the Home tab is the Editing group, which has the Find, Replace, and Select commands.

I have just one more thing to say about the Ribbon before we take a break from it and discuss something else. Double-clicking one of the tabs on the Ribbon hides or minimizes the groups. To redisplay the groups, simply click one of the tabs. Give it a try. Another way to minimize the Ribbon is to click the Minimize the Ribbon icon to the right of the View tab. This icon is a single upward pointing arrow. When the Ribbon is minimized, the arrow is a single downward pointing arrow. You can expand the Ribbon by clicking that arrow.

PowerPoint Help

A PowerPoint Help button Help button displays next to the Minimize the Ribbon icon on the right side of the Ribbon. Click the Help button, or press the F1 function key on your keyboard, to open the PowerPoint online help page, as shown below. If you’re working offline, you’ll get a different window. As you can see, the Help window includes a toolbar, a Search box, and many links for PowerPoint help.

PowerPoint Help
PowerPoint Help

You’ve learned so much already! In Chapter 4, you’ll find out how to navigate through the views, tabs, bars, and buttons that PowerPoint 2010 has to offer.

Enroll today to learn more!


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About Kathy

I love being involved in education because I am always learning something new and exciting. I have been teaching and helping students for over 25 years with computer applications and keyboarding classes. Before computers, I helped students learn how to use dedicated word processors. It was a long time ago! Currently, I work at MiraCosta College, a community college in California, where I teach computer applications for the Computer Applications Department and keyboarding classes for the Business Office Technology Department. I teach one- and two-day computer courses through Community Services, and work as an Instructional Assistant II for the Academic Information Services Department. I’ve been enjoying my jobs at MiraCosta for over 20 years! Prior to MiraCosta, I worked at Eldorado Business College teaching word processing and business courses. And, for about 15 years I’ve been teaching online courses (PowerPoint 2010, 2007, & 2003, and Keyboarding) through Education to Go, a division of Cengage Learning. I find teaching and learning online an awarding experience. I enjoy reading, learning, traveling, and spending time with my family. Kathy

One Response to Getting Started with PowerPoint 2010

  1. air diffuser December 3, 2011 at 9:20 pm #

    Very informative and trustworthy blog. Please keep updating with great posts like this one.

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