INDEX BY: Edition / Title
A Guide to PowerPoint 97
by Tristram Hooley
published in 1999 by Software Made Simple (01227 361 263)
32pp ISBN not available 5.95 + p&p (see below)

Pricing note:
see for more details. Price shown is for single copy. All of SMS publications are available on CDROM in Acrobat format for an annual licence of 180. Internet based versions are also available and included on the CD.

A Guide to PowerPoint 97

A Guide to PowerPoint 97 is an excellent guide to PowerPoint, enabling the user to create successful, professional presentations by utilising all the tools within the package. In-depth advice is given at each section on how to make the best of your presentation. The introduction explains in simple terms what PowerPoint is, giving advice and guidance to the user on preparing to create a presentation, considering their material and audience. It outlines the importance of using PowerPoint to enhance your presentation and considering your audience and materials before you start preparing the presentation. It uses the scenario of creating a presentation for a job interview, which could be useful exercise for Key Stage 4 students, and be applied within a number of curriculum areas rather than just ICT.

The guide is broken down into sections, which are clearly defined and sub-divided for ease of use. The guide itself covers everything from the very basics of PowerPoint, through advanced features such as slide transition, and animating a presentation. The final section gives the user tips on rehearsing the presentation, as well as how to create audience and speaker notes.

The guide clearly explains all the options available to the user, using screen shots of icons and screens throughout the process. It explains the use of the 'AutoContent Wizard', giving useful advice on the best way to take advantage of this feature of PowerPoint. It also takes the user through the use of templates to create their presentation, as well as the various formats available.

One particularly helpful feature of this guide is the explicit use of screen shots on every page, particularly the screen shots of icons within the main bodies of text to enable users to identify particular features. The author/publishers have also used features such as enboldening text to highlight particular points, whilst notes and tips are featured in boxes to make them stand out. However, the one complaint would be the font size, which is only 10 point and some people may find this uncomfortable on the eye.

Section 4 advises the user on how to organisation their presentation, giving useful hints and tips on how to move slides around to ensure that presentations run in the best possible order. Section 4.3 gives advice on how to move sections of slides, rather than the whole slide. Tips like this can be very informative, even to the most experienced of users!

Section 5 illustrates more in-depth features, such as using charts, tables and graphics, adding footers, customising the background and detailed information on creating organisation charts. Section 6 moves on to give the user advice on getting the most from PowerPoint to create a computer-based presentation, showing the user how to use transition and animations to enhance the overall presentation.

The guide is very detailed and the language clear and concise. Jargon is avoided wherever possible, hence the 'Plain English' Clarity Mark. The use of a single theme running throughout the guide contributes strongly to the clarity of the material. As mentioned, the theme is suitable for Key Stage 4, although the guide itself may not be so suitable for this age group. The content, style and layout lend itself better to an older audience, such as Post-16. The one disappointment with this guide was that it did not give an in-depth insight into using Audio and Video within a PowerPoint Presentation, which would have enable the user to create a truly multimedia presentation.

Reviewed by: Margaret Conroy, Susan Marsh, Lisa Perry and Emma Whetham Student Teachers (IT) at Liverpool JMU