Getting Started With PowerPoint

This PowerPoint 2016 lesson includes everything you need to know to create dynamic Microsoft PowerPoint presentations.

Introduction

PowerPoint is a presentation program that allows you to create dynamic slide presentations. These presentations can include animation, narration, images, videos, and much more. In this lesson, you'll learn your way around the PowerPoint environment, including the Ribbon, Quick Access Toolbar, and Backstage view.

Watch the video below to learn more about getting started with PowerPoint.

Getting to know PowerPoint

PowerPoint 2016 is similar to PowerPoint 2013 and PowerPoint 2010. If you've previously used these versions, PowerPoint 2016 should feel familiar. But if you are new to PowerPoint or have more experience with older versions, you should first take some time to become familiar with the PowerPoint 2016 interface.

The PowerPoint interface

When you open PowerPoint for the first time, the Start Screen will appear. From here, you'll be able to create a new presentation, choose a template, and access your recently edited presentations. From the Start Screen, locate and select Blank Presentation to access the PowerPoint interface.

Creating a blank presentation

Click the buttons in the interactive below to become familiar with the PowerPoint interface.

edit hotspots

Working with the PowerPoint environment

The Ribbon and Quick Access Toolbar are where you will find the commands to perform common tasks in PowerPoint. Backstage view gives you various options for saving, opening a file, printing, and sharing your document.

The Ribbon

PowerPoint uses a tabbed Ribbon system instead of traditional menus. The Ribbon contains multiple tabs, each with several groups of commands. For example, the Font group on the Home tab contains commands for formatting text in your document.

Groups on the Ribbon

Some groups also have a small arrow in the bottom-right corner that you can click for even more options.

More options in groups

Showing and hiding the Ribbon

The Ribbon is designed to respond to your current task, but you can choose to minimize it if you find that it takes up too much screen space. Click the Ribbon Display Options arrow in the upper-right corner of the Ribbon to display the drop-down menu.

Ribbon Display Options

Using the Tell me feature

If you're having trouble finding command you want, the Tell Me feature can help. It works just like a regular search bar: Type what you're looking for, and a list of options will appear. You can then use the command directly from the menu without having to find it on the Ribbon.

Using the Tell me feature

The Quick Access Toolbar

Located just above the Ribbon, the Quick Access Toolbar lets you access common commands no matter which tab is selected. By default, it includes the Save, Undo, Redo, and Start From Beginning commands. You can add other commands depending on your preference.

To add commands to the Quick Access Toolbar:

  1. Click the drop-down arrow to the right of the Quick Access Toolbar.
    Locating the Customize Quick Access Toolbar dropdown arrow
  2. Select the command you want to add from the drop-down menu. To choose from more commands, select More Commands.
    Adding a command to the Quick Access toolbar
  3. The command will be added to the Quick Access Toolbar.
    The command added to the Quick Access toolbar

The Ruler, guides, and gridlines

PowerPoint includes several tools to help organize and arrange content on your slides, including the Ruler, guides, and gridlines. These tools make it easier to align objects on your slides. Simply click the check boxes in the Show group on the View tab to show and hide these tools.

The Ruler, Guidelines, and Grids

Zoom and other view options

PowerPoint has a variety of viewing options that change how your presentation is displayed. You can choose to view your presentation in Normal view, Slide Sorter view, Reading view, or Slide Show view. You can also zoom in and out to make your presentation easier to read.

Switching slide views

Switching between different slide views is easy. Just locate and select the desired slide view command in the bottom-right corner of the PowerPoint window.

Slide View commands

To learn more about slide views, see our Managing Slides lesson.

Zooming in and out

To zoom in or out, click and drag the zoom control slider in the bottom-right corner of the PowerPoint window. You can also select the + or - commands to zoom in or out by smaller increments. The number next to the slider displays the current zoom percentage, also called the zoom level.

The Zoom control slider

Backstage view

Backstage view gives you various options for saving, opening, printing, and sharing your presentations. To access Backstage view, click the File tab on the Ribbon.

Clicking the File tab

Click the buttons in the interactive below to learn more about using Backstage view.

edit hotspots

Options

Here, you can change various PowerPoint options, settings, and language preferences.

You can review our lesson on Understanding OneDrive to learn more about using OneDrive.

Challenge!

  1. Open PowerPoint 2016, and create a blank presentation.
  2. Change the Ribbon Display Options to Show Tabs.
  3. Click the drop-down arrow next to the Quick Access Toolbar and add New, Quick Print, and Spelling.
  4. In the Tell me bar, type Shape and press Enter.
  5. Choose a shape from the menu, and double-click somewhere on your slide.
  6. Show the Ruler if it is not already visible.
  7. Zoom the presentation to 120%.
  8. When you're finished, your presentation should look something like this:
    Getting Started Challenge
  9. Change the Ribbon Display Options back to Show Tabs and Commands.