A Microsoft PowerPoint MVP since 2000, Echo Swinford began her PowerPoint career in 1997. She holds a master’s degree in new media from the Indiana University School of Informatics and is the owner of Echosvoice, a PowerPoint consulting firm specializing in custom template development, presentation creation, makeovers and cleanup, and training for large and small corporate clients. Echo has written and co-written five PowerPoint books, developed a number of video publications, and has a string of tech editing credits to her name. She is President Emerita of the Presentation Guild, a not-for-profit trade association for the presentation industry which she founded in 2015. She just completed her latest book, Building PowerPoint Templates, version 2, with co-author Julie Terberg.
In this conversation, Echo talks about her updated book, Building PowerPoint Templates v2.
Geetesh: Echo, the new version of your book, Building PowerPoint Templates, co-authored with Julie Terberg is a great resource for PowerPoint users. What are the main pain points that you help resolve for them in this book?
Echo: Honestly, I think the guidance around which fonts to use in your PowerPoint templates is the most complete information I’ve seen anywhere. I have to give a ton of props to Julie for doing that research and compiling all of the current information in a few easy-to-understand pages. PowerPoint is horrible about font substitution and it’s not intuitive at all for folks who use the software, whether they are building a template or simply using one that’s been provided. So we tried really really hard to help template builders consider the ramifications of using various fonts – and we included about a page worth of cautions to go along!
Also, because there are so many different uses and designs for templates, there’s often not one specific exact right way to do something – but there are plenty of wrong ones. So we tried to give better insight into how we think through some of those decisions: dealing with footers, when to add a custom layout vs using one of the defaults, when to set a dark background style, how to get the logo to appear on top of a picture, things like that.
See Also: Conversation with Co-Author, Julie Terberg
You may also want to check our similar feature with Julie Terberg , who is the co-author of this book.
Geetesh: You have a comprehensive section within the book that looks at editing template nuances using an XML editing environment. How doable is this part for everyday PowerPoint users, and does the book hand-hold them?
Echo: Well, I guess that depends on how much hand-holding you expect! Seriously, though, the chapter on editing XML gives plenty of guidance for getting started with editing PowerPoint’s XML as well as pointers to additional resources. We cover the things that Julie and I do most often, like stripping “most recent” colors, adding custom colors, and changing the default font size for tables. We also explain how to remove userdrawn settings to help prevent getting weird overlapping graphics when applying a theme. None of these are absolutely critical to do, but they do take your template to the next level. Anyone who’s interested in these things should be able to get started with a minimum of fuss after reading the chapter on XML.
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