Echo Swinford is a Microsoft PowerPoint MVP (Most Valuable Professional). When she’s not adding tutorials and information to her Echo’s Voice site, she is busy creating PowerPoint templates or conducting training sessions for a variety of clients. Echo is also the author of Building PowerPoint Templates Step by Step with the Experts, published by Que.
In this conversation, Echo discusses this new book she co-authored with Julie Terberg.
Geetesh: Your book, Building PowerPoint Templates has so much information that has been rarely documented elsewhere, and certainly never explained in plain English. What motivated you to author a book on this topic?.
Echo: Well, we kept seeing very poorly built templates cross our desks, which was frustrating because a properly built template can actually save users a ton of time. There are millions of templates being used every day and we can’t build them all (although we’d sure like to!), so we did the next best thing — we wrote a book.
PowerPoint templates changed dramatically between PowerPoint 2003 and 2007. The intricacies (and bugs) aren’t really documented anywhere, which meant there was a steep learning curve. We hope that by putting the information together in one place, people will begin to understand the value of a well-constructed template. The ROI is huge, especially on a corporate level.
Geetesh: There’s so much confusion about how templates differ from themes — can you explain in a few words if these concepts are nearly similar or entirely different — and how will your book help readers understand the world of PowerPoint templates better.
Echo: Themes and templates are very similar, which is probably why they’re so confusing. An Office Theme (.THMX file) is a set of colors, fonts and effects which can be applied to any Office file. A template is for a specific program (Word, Excel or PowerPoint). A template is always based on a theme, so colors, fonts and effects are built right in. But a template can also have content – like sample slides or prepopulated footers – so you could actually think of a template as being a theme + sample content.
If you have no need for sample content, you could distribute just the theme file (*.THMX). Unfortunately, most users won’t know what to do with a theme, so you’re probably better off giving them a template!