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Book Review: Cutting Edge PowerPoint for Dummies

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So you’ve been doing PowerPoint for years now. So you’ve even done your own custom templates. Now it’s time to take your PowerPoint game to the next level. Cutting Edge PowerPoint for Dummies was written by Geetesh Bajaj, a Microsoft PowerPont MVP. That means that, while he doesn’t actually work for Microsoft, he knows enough about PowerPoint that Microsoft tells people with questions to talk to him, and people like him. He’s got the credentials to do this book.

And this isn’t a basic PowerPoint book. Bajaj assumes that you know your way around the software, and that you’ve got a basic understanding of computers. You won’t find any tips on formatting text here (try the other PowerPoint book I reviewed for the basics). What you will find are plenty of tips for spicing up your presentations.

One of the things I notice most often in PowerPoint presentations is that the people designing them have no concept of what color combinations look good. Bajaj discusses contrasting colors, and how to use color combinations to make text stand out and be easier to read. Color plates located in the center of the book help to emphasize his point. If more people would pay attention to this simple tip, PowerPoint presentations would be far less painful to view.

Bajaj then gives tips on enhancing presentations with the use of various forms of media — video, audio, charts and diagrams, and animations including Flash — in PowerPoint. He cautions the designer that overuse can be a bad thing, but shows how to make the best use of each of these features to create impressive PowerPoint slide shows.

Probably the most valuable part of the book is the CD-ROM that comes with it. Bajaj has included several programs that are designed to enhance PowerPoint, and are referred to in the book. My favorite so far has been SmartDraw 7, which I’ve used to create tables and charts that PowerPoint’s included application couldn’t do. You will also find all the examples that Bajaj uses in the book, including backgrounds, slide templates, and Flash animation samples. I’ve only just started to scratch the surface of what’s on this CD, but PowerPoint power-users will find these resources invaluable.

There are a lot of people who need Cutting Edge PowerPoint for Dummies – we all know one or two. Unfortunately, some of them won’t buy it for themselves. Be a good friend and buy it for them. They will thank you, and the people who have to sit through their presentations will really thank you.

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