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Every year we publish the Top 5 productivity secrets for PowerPoint based on our work with management consultants and the Big 4. Here are our 5 favorites for 2015:

Secret 1:
Use Ctrl in combination with the mouse


2015-10-28 17_11_36-5 PowerPoint Producticty Secrets for Big 4 Consultants.pptx - PowerPoint

Secret 2:
Quick Access Toolbar

The Quick Access Toolbar entries:2015-10-28 17_12_48-5 PowerPoint Producticty Secrets for Big 4 Consultants.pptx - PowerPoint

  • can always be clicked, no matter which Ribbon menu is selected
  • can be triggered by keyboard shortcut: ALT+1, ALT+2 etc.

Add the most needed PowerPoint functions:

  1. Right click any button
  2. Click “Add to Quick Access Toolbar”2015-10-28 17_12_58-5 PowerPoint Producticty Secrets for Big 4 Consultants.pptx - PowerPoint





Secret 3:
Align to the slide

To quickly align a shape to the slide:

  1. Select the item
  2. Click “Align Center” (or any other)
2015-10-28 17_15_53-5 PowerPoint Producticty Secrets for Big 4 Consultants.pptx - PowerPoint

If only one shape or group is selected, the alignment buttons will move the shape relative to the slide (instead of relative to the other objects).

This is especially useful to center content on the slide.

Secret 4:
Reset Layout to restore formatting

Remember the pain when somebody changed the title font color or removed the subtitle Placeholder? Next time:

  1. Click “Reset”
2015-10-28 17_16_03-5 PowerPoint Producticty Secrets for Big 4 Consultants.pptx - PowerPoint

Resetting restores the formatting of your Placeholders to match the definition in the master.

Secret 5:
Use groups to fill the workspace

Grouping shapes is great for moving and scaling them together.

To make your slides look really nice:

  1. “Group” all elements per column
  2. Move the left- and right-most to the workspace border
  3. Select all groups
  4. Click “Distribute Horizontally”
2015-10-28 17_16_07-5 PowerPoint Producticty Secrets for Big 4 Consultants.pptx - PowerPoint

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SlideProof comes with a built-in slide library containing over 100 highly re-usable and exclusive slides and shapes to be instantly used in PowerPoint. The library is split into the categories boxes, flows, charts, tables, flags, maps and icons. The content fits tax, audit and advisory very well, especially management- and strategy-consulting.


SlideProof Library SlidesSlideProof_Library_Shapes


Just download and install Download SlideProof to start using the slides in your presentations.

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At the time of writting, following are the files and registry keys that get written during the installation and usage of SlideProof.


Files that are written during the per-machine installation:

Files that are written during the per-user installation:

Registrykeys that are written during the per-machine installation:

Registrykeys that are written during the per-user installation:

Directories and files that are created when using SlideProof and that are not uninstalled:

Registry key that gets written when using SlideProof:

When using SlideProof, templates are placed here:

Alternatively, templates may be placed at a directory read from registry:

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Custom Colors
The process of adding Custom Colors to your PowerPoint Masters unfortunately is not as simple as clicking a button and selecting a color. It includes many steps and requires some techniques you might not be familiar with. Therefore, we’ll give you a detailed step-by-step guide of how to achieve this only using the standard Windows tools.

Preparation – File extensions must be visible

If you open Windows Explorer and navigate to a folder containing a Presentation, the file name must end on .pptx (or .potx for a Template). By default, Windows hides file extension from the user, only denoting the file type PowerPoint Presentation in the column Item type. To unhide file extensions, follow these steps:

  • Click start (or press the Windows-Key) and enter “Control Panel” to open Windows Control Panel
  • If the control panel items are grouped by category names, open the category Appearance and Personalization, if they are displayed as a plain list, just continue.
  • Select Folder Options
  • In the tab View, section Advanced settings, make sure the option Hide extensions for known file types is unchecked
  • Click OK

Step 1 – Create a backup of your Presentation or Template

Before you start, create a copy of your Presentation or Template to have a backup, in case something goes wrong.

Step 2 – Uncompress the Presentation or Template file

  • Open Windows Explorer and navigate to the folder containing the presentation or template file in concern
  • Rename the file extensions from .pptx or .potx file to .zip, and click Yes in the confirmation pop-up.
    Example: If your file is called Company_Master.potx, rename it to
  • Right click the file and select Extract all…
  • In the following dialog, the suggested folder name can be used as is. Confirm extraction by clicking Extract
  • Now a folder has opened containing several subfolders with names like _rels, docProps and ppt.
  • Navigate to folder ppt and its subfolder theme
  • Now for each file called theme?.xml (e.g. theme1.xml, theme2.xml etc.) in turn repeat Step 3 and Step 4

Step 3 – Add or find the custom color list in the Theme file

  • Right click the theme?.xml file and click Open with… and choose Notepad
  • In Notepad, make sure that in the Format menu the option Word Wrap is checked. It makes editing the file much easier.
  • If the presentation already contains any custom colors, select Edit / Find… from the menu bar, enter the following search term and click Find next
  • If you found the so called tag </a:custClrLst>, proceed to Step 4, if not, continue to create it
  • Use Edit / Find… to find this tag
  • Exactly before the opening bracket of <a:extLst>, copy/paste this text:
  • It should look like this now

Step 4 – Adding the colors

For each color you want to add, repeat the following steps. Note that colors definitions must be provided in the hexadecimal form, e.g. 7835A0.

  • Copy/paste the following text exactly before the opening bracket of </a:custClrLst>
    <a:custClr name="Custom Color ?">
        <a:srgbClr val="000000" />
  • Replace the text Custom Color ? with a name for the color that continues the indexing from the previous colors, i.e. Custom Color 1, Custom Color 2, Custom Color 3 etc.
    Note: The sequence should start from 1 and be consecutive
  • Replace the text 000000 with the hexadecimal color code, e.g. FF0000 for Red

After adding the last color, the result should look like this:

    <a:custClr name="Custom Color 1">
        <a:srgbClr val="FF0000" />
    <a:custClr name="Custom Color 2">
        <a:srgbClr val="00FF00" />

Select File / Save from the menu and close Notepad

Step 5 – Re-compressing the Presentation or Template

  • Switch back to Windows Explorer and navigate back up to the folder that contained the subfolders _rels, docProps and ppt
  • Press Ctrl+A to select all files and folders
  • Right-click the selection and in Send To select Compressed (zipped) folder
  • Finally rename the resulting ???.zip file back to the original Presentation or Template file name ending on .pptx or .potx and move it back to the original folder

When you open this Presentation or Template in PowerPoint now and use the PowerPoint color picker to assign a color to some text or shape fill, you will find your added colors in the section Custom Colors.

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We’ve busy to make PowerPoint less frustrating, SlideProof 3 will gives you 4 ways to do so:

  • Agenda – Automatic section dividers, page numbers and topic highlighting.
  • Library – Quickly insert slides, shapes or images from a shared library.
  • Check – Spot and fix inconsistencies in content, formatting and layout.
  • Productivity – Vital helpers from email as PDF to switching objects.

Here is what it looks like inside PowerPoint:

SlideProof 3 Ribbon


So bring your PowerPoint productivity to the next level with SlideProof 3.

Download SlideProof 3 Now

Existing user? Simply change Ribbon Style to Complete under SlideProof > Settings (screenshot).

SlideProof 3 is free for all current subscribers. Visit our webshop to buy now!

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Before your material leaves your company it should undergo proofreading. This ensures a clear message and leaving the best impression to the reader. We tried to collect ten PowerPoint errors occurring often and useful to check for. Those checks are also done by SlideProof, the PowerPoint Add-in to make proofreading easier. We hope it finally helps you creating better presentations:

Consistent bullet punctuation

All bullet items should have the same punctuation. This might also include no punctuation at all – But it should be consistent over all items of a bullet list. So if one has a period, the others should have one, too. We recommend using punctuation when your items are complete sentences.

Example of an inconsistent punctuation of bullet items

Punctuation spacing

Unfortunately wrong spacing around punctuation marks are not identified by PowerPoint’s spell check. This includes most punctuation marks like period, comma, exclamation and question mark. There should always be a space behind but no before. Often these are easy to spot by eye except when font size gets smaller.

Example of a wrong space before comma

Consistent hyphenation

All words that are separated by a hyphen should be separated consistently. An evergreen is definitely long-term vs. long term. Especially when working in a team, chances are high people will separate words differently.

Example of inconsistent hyphenated words.

Missing bracket

Brackets only come in pairs. When there is an opening parenthesis, there also should be a closing one. Except for smileys. The same goes for quotation marks which also always appear in pairs. A proofreader has to find single brackets.

Example of a paragraph missing the closing bracket.

Wrong footnotes

A footnote consists of the footnote at the bottom of a slide and the reference in the text. The reference in text is often just a superscripted number. This leaves room for many possible errors: Missing footnotes, un-referenced footnotes, gaps in numbering or numbering not starting with one.

Example of a missing footnote that is used in text.

Overlapping text

Obviously overlapping text is never wanted. A classic example is a forgotten sticker or post-it which is often used by third-party reviewers over existing text.

Example of two overlapping texts

Accidently moved placeholder

A title, body and any other placeholder can easily be moved which often happens accidentally. Finding such errors is tedious work as one has to quickly go through the slides of a presentation and search for jumping placeholders during transitions.

Example of a accidentally moved title placeholder

Accidently moved shapes

Certain shapes like stickers or trackers are no placeholder but appear at the same position on several slides. Sometimes such a shape gets accidentally moved without notice. These are hard-to-spot errors as they only noticeable during the transition from one slide to another.

Example of an on-page tracker slightly misaligned to the one on other slides.

Slightly misaligned shapes

When arranging shapes on a slide, one of them can easily get out of line. PowerPoint’s alignment tools are not always perfect and spotting such an error requires much trained eyes.

Example of three shapes where one is slightly misaligned.

Font formats

If you worked in a team and copied from different sources, chances are high the presentation has different fonts for the same elements. In the end, all titles, body and placeholders should have the same font name and size. This also helps reducing the number of used fonts and sizes.

Example of two font sizes used in a single line of text.

Font line spacing

What is true for font formats goes also for font line spacing. Using consistent Line Spacing greatly supports readability and visual clarity. This one is often hard to spot but easy to find by software.

Inconsistent line spacings used in a single paragraph of text.

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Many heavily used Excel features do not have shortcut keys assigned. But with KeyRocket you can assign your own shortcuts in Excel. In this text I show you how to set up a shortcut. This works for all Office products.

There are two ways to create a shortcut in Excel: Either while working via the shortcut notification or from within the shortcut browser.

On demand, while you work

When you use a function in Excel several times with the mouse, a missed shortcut notification pops up on the screen. If the feature has no shortcut assigned yet, the notification should show the ribbon access key combination and a shortcut field below to assign your own shortcut keys. The shortcut field already contains a suggestion. By pressing save you can assign the feature to the suggested shortcut. You can also override the suggestion by clicking inside the field and pressing the desired keys:

Excel with a custom shortcut notification

From within the shortcut browser

Just open the KeyRocket shortcut browser by pressing Win+Shift+K. Set the currently shown application to Excel (1.). Search for the feature in the search bar (2.). Press the small wrench icon to assign a custom shortcut (3.):
KeyRocket shortcut browser

Then a shortcut field appears where you can enter the desired keys (4.). Finish by pressing Enter key:

Shortcut field in shortcut browser

And finally there it is: You now have assigned your own shortcut to a function in Excel:

The shortcut field in shortcut browser


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Checking very large presentations for inconsistencies using SlideProof can become quite time consuming:


To improve waiting for the whole check when only a single slide is of interest, SlideProof now allows to check only selected slides. This might be useful when a presentation was already checked before and a slide got only minor changes. Also there’s the new shortcut Shift+F11 to do complementary to F11 which checks the whole presentation:


Note that when checking only the selected slide, certain errors spanning several slides might not be detected!

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Alignment of shapes on slide

SlideProof comes with the handy rule “Alignment of Shapes on Slide” that tries to find shapes that are not properly aligned or slightly misaligned. As this contains a little bit of black magic we were asked to expose the parameters so that you as a user can adjust it. Finally we thought it would again be better to hide the complexity behind a sensitivity slider. Low sensitivity means less errors are found whereas high sensitivity means many errors. Unfortunately a high sensitivity comes with more false-positives hits.

Adjusting sensitivity

The sensitivity slider can be accessed in SlideProof’s settings and looks like this:


What it actually does

It actually adjusts two internal parameters: The maximum allowed distance for shapes being regarded as “should be aligned”:


The second parameter is a little bit more complicated: The maximum number of errors that can appear on a slide. When there are many shapes on a slide, chances are less they are supposed to be properly aligned. Or: You can’t align the chaos.