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Our Favorite PowerPoint Resources

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Here is our list of awesome resources on the web and top-notch equipment that we’ve used.

PowerPoint assets

Our favorite websites for (almost all) free downloadable assets for your slides. For a curated list of the best free assets, check out Markerbook.

PowerPoint pictures

Our favorite sources of free, high-quality, and unique (no more same old shaking hands images, please!) photos that belong to the public domain (licensed CC0), meaning they are copyright-free and attribution-free:

  • Pixabay – Awesome site for 100% free and Creative Commons CC0 licensed images, illustrations, vectors, and videos.
  • Pexels – We love this site. It’s a compilation of 100% copyright-free images from around the web. They also have a section of their site dedicated to videosNote: They have a super-handy free unofficial add-in for PowerPoint and Word add-in that you can download and install here.
  • Gratisography – All kinds of great photos that are anything but stock. Typically features conceptual images and funny images too!
  • Negative Space – This is one of our favorite sites for 100% free and Creative Commons CC0 licensed images, with everything from landscapes, to conceptual images, to product images…all around great!
  • Jay Mantri and Unsplash – Typically these are photos of landscapes and cityscapes, but it often features conceptual images and photos of patterns or textures (great for backgrounds).
  • Camarama – Wide range of high-quality photos, from closeups of laptops, to images of nature.
  • Startup Stock Photos – Closeups of computers, people working in casual clothing, open-plan offices, etc.
  • DesignersPics – High-quality photos, tend to be zoom-ins of objects, or concepts.
  • Morguefile – High-quality photos that look more like traditional stock photos (a tiny bit cheesy), but may be easier to match with a corporate deck’s content.
  • Free Nature Stock – As its name suggests, these are beautiful images of nature.
  • New Old Stock – Black & white and vintage photographs.
  • FreeFoto – A place to find ‘real’ looking images, categorized.
  • Why JPEG is like a photocopier – Explains why you definitely need to insert your logo into PowerPoint as a PNG, not a JPEG.
  • Hero Patterns – Another free creation by Steve Schoger, this site allows you to fully customize the colors and opacity of his custom-made patterns and use them in your presentations, under the Creative Commons license.
  • Subtle Patterns – A source of, you guessed it!, subtle patterns, that you can use for backgrounds in your slides. Please not that their Creative Commons license requires attribution and share alike.
  • The Pattern Library – An amazing bank of super cool patterns, created for fun by designers.

Another option, though it can be quite a bit more time-consuming, is to search Flickr.com and use the advanced search to find Creative Commons licensed photos (or use Compfight‘s better search engine – make sure to select the Creative Commons license).

For more sites with stock photos, check out this comprehensive post on Canva: 74 Best Sites to Find Awesome Free Images.

And for an insanely comprehensive list of free stock photo sites (with pros & cons), check out The 27 Best Free Stock Photo Sites.

And if you’d like a robust & free alternative to Adobe Photoshop, check out Editor by Pixlr.com. Thanks to Jude for the recommendation!

PowerPoint graphics

By far the easiest way to get new & unique graphics onto your slides (especially now that ClipArt is gone) is to use a service like GetMyGraphic. They are custom-built graphics designed for PowerPoint. All you need to do is download and insert them onto your slide and then tweak them like you would SmartArt.

Although this is a paid service, we’ve found that we’ve reused these graphics again and again, so we see it as a good investment in sharper looking slides.

If you want free PowerPoint graphics, you can check out these websites too:

  • Freepik – Great database with tons of very high-quality and modern icons, flat icons, vectors, and PSD files to use. Freepik does require you to give them credit if you use their material, but they make it very easy with a simple html code.
  • Pixabay – Awesome site for 100% free and Creative Commons CC0 licensed images, illustrations, vectors, and videos.

PowerPoint icons & vectors

Our favorite sources of free icons and vectors. Please note that some of these require attribution, so please use them appropriately:

  • Icon Speed Challenge – Learn how to create vector icons from any icon font! Plus download our Nuts & Bolts Jackpot Resource, with 886 free icon set + the Icon Cutter Tool.
  • iconmonstr – Simple icons & easy to use interface (you can even pick the color of your icon before you download it).
  • IcoMoon – Crisp and simple icons available for free download and use in many filetypes (SVG, PNG, and iconfont).
  • Freepik – Great database with tons of very high-quality and modern icons, flat icons, vectors, and PSD files to use. Freepik does require you to give them credit if you use their material, but they make it very easy with a simple html code.
  • Pixabay – Awesome site for 100% free and Creative Commons CC0 licensed images, illustrations, vectors, and videos.
  • flaticon – A large database of simple icons available for in many filetypes (iconfont, PNG, SVG, EPS and PSD).
  • FindIcons – A large database of thousands of icons and vectors. A standard search will almost always point you to paid sites like Shutterstock, but there are options on the left that will allow you to filter by license, and thereby find some free ones. Most are available in various filetypes.
  • Zondicons – Free SVG icon list created by Steve Schoger, that is regularly updated and just plain awesome.
  • Glyphyx One NF and Glyphyx Two NF – These two free icon fonts can be installed onto your computer and used to create new icons (see the Speed Challenge link above for how to cut them out into customizable PowerPoint shapes).

If you have Office 365, you can now insert SVG (vector) images directly onto slides in PowerPoint, and edit them like regular shapes.

If you don’t have this functionality, you’ll need to convert the SVGs in order to import them into PowerPoint. For a really good tutorial on how to convert vectors into usable PowerPoint objects without Adobe software, check out Microsoft MVP Dave Paradi’s post on finding and using vector images in PowerPoint.

Note: You can turn existing objects into PowerPoint graphics by using these tools:

  • Text-to-Outline by YouPresent – Allows you to convert text into vectors/shapes, which you can then format any way you like in PowerPoint…add gradients, stamp it onto a picture, and more.
  • Vector Magic – Creates a vector out of any image. 

PowerPoint music & videos

If you’re looking to add some pizazz to a live presentation, check out these sites for truly free multimedia:

  • Pixabay – Awesome site for 100% free and Creative Commons CC0 licensed images, illustrations, vectors, and videos.
  • Pexels Videos – Great resource for gorgeous professional looking 100% copyright videos. Has a helpful search feature and category organization.
  • Mazwai – Beautiful copyright-free videos that are easy to download.
  • Free Stock Music – You will have to create an account, but the assets are still mostly free.
  • Stock Footage for Free – You will have to create an account, but the assets are still mostly free.
  • Motion Backgrounds for Free – You will have to create an account, but the assets are still mostly free.

And if you use a lot of video and motion backgrounds, check out the paid parent version of the sites above, Video Blocks.

PowerPoint fonts

Everything you need to know about Office safe fonts, as well as custom fonts and how to embed them.

PowerPoint colors

Finding the right colors for your slides is more an art than a science. So here are some places that make choosing the right PowerPoint color palette easier:

  • Adobe Color CC – A free tool that can help you generate color pairings and variations on your current colors.
  • Color Lisa – This site has compiled color palettes from the world’s greatest artists. Use these as inspirations for your templates.
  • Canva Colors –  Their Design Wiki on colors teaches you everything you need to know about colors and their meanings, and offers matching color combinations to inspire your next design.
  • Material Design Color Palette – This awesome site will create a beautiful color palette based on the combination of any colors.
  • Pantone’s color of the year – Each year, Pantone chooses a new color and color palette based on design trends.

PowerPoint templates

WARNING: Most pre-built PowerPoint templates you find online are not real PowerPoint templates, but 'fake templates.' It's important to know the difference between the two and to know what is a PowerPoint template before you download one and try to use it.

That being said, if you want to look through examples of pre-built slides to save yourself time or get inspiration, here are some sites with decent ones we recommend:

  • SlideCow (not free - but SO worth it!) is a design agency that creates the highest quality PowerPoint templates we've seen on the web, bar none. The founder, Yoyo, produces affordable templates that are gorgeous, fully editable, easy to use, and are based on an well-designed Slide Master. This means that you can use any template he creates seamlessly with other presentations. In particular, check out his latest creation, the Reem Template.
  • Envato Elements (not free) is a large platform where designers can share their presentation templates. Many of them include hundreds of slides, as well as custom icons you can use. The popular PowerPoint templates are typically modern, stylish and trendy. Their simple $29/month fee gives you access to unlimited downloads.
  • Slides Carnival (free) offers professional designs that cover all styles from playful and creative to formal and business presentations. You'll find that all templates are completely customizable and easy-to-edit, even though most of them aren't real PowerPoint templates.
  • Canva (partly free) is a site that provides a huge variety of design templates, including presentation templates. Do keep in mind that none of these are built in PowerPoint - they're built using the Canva software - so you'll need to export the design as images and paste them into PowerPoint (rendering them un-editable).

Note: PowerPoint templates are different from PowerPoint themes. You can learn about this on our articles about PowerPoint themes and ​how to create a custom PowerPoint theme.

PowerPoint backgrounds

Typically, a PowerPoint background is simply a solid color, a pattern, or an image, which you can create on your own.

However, if you want a pre-built one, here are some places to get free PowerPoint backgrounds:

  • Presentation Magazine - These are by far the best pre-built PowerPoint backgrounds you’ll find on the web, with modern, stylish, and simple options to choose from.
  • Free PPT Backgrounds - As its name suggests, this site offers a wide variety of decent free PowerPoint backgrounds for download.
  • SlideTeam - While many are quite cheesy, there are a few gems here and there if you’re willing to search for them.

To learn more about this, check out our article about PowerPoint backgrounds and how to use them.

PowerPoint tools

Some problems are just too big to solve on your own.

Our favorite PowerPoint add-ins

Have a command you use all the time, or a task you wish could be automated? Well chances are you’re not the only one, and that some of the Microsoft MVPs have gone and coded a solution for you! Check out some of our favorite free PPT add-ins:

  • The Hammer Tool (part of the PPTools StarterSet) by Microsoft MVP, Steve Rindsberg – Allows you to copy/paste an object’s position on a slide onto any other object (to see how to download and install it, check out our Hammer Tool post).
  • Pexels by OfficeConsult – Allows you to seamlessly search for and insert great-looking and free stock photos from Pexels directly within PowerPoint.
  • Motion Path Tools by Microsoft MVP, Shyam Pillai – Allows you to copy/paste an objects end motion path onto another object (to see how to download and install it, check out Spicy Presentations’ Must-Have Tool for Serious Animators post).
  • YouTube Video Wizard by Microsoft MVP, Shyam Pillai – Allows you to easily embed a YouTube video into your slide (to see how to download and install it, check out our post on embedding YouTube videos in PowerPoint).
  • Text-to-Outline by YouPresent – Allows you to convert text into vectors/shapes, which you can then format any way you like in PowerPoint…add gradients, stamp it onto a picture, and more. If you have PowerPoint 2013 or later, you can do this using the Merge Shapes tool, but for earlier versions (which P-Spice demonstrates in Step 2 of her Morph Transition tutorial), it’s impossible without an add-in like this one.
  • MLC Addin by Maurizio La Cava – Allows you to do some of the more annoying nitty-gritty stuff of PowerPoint in just 1 click, such as: swapping the positions of shapes, breaking a table into shapes, pasting an object onto all your slides, and easily moving an object closer/further from an object.
  • iSlide - A very comprehensive add-in that allows you to do many awesome things, including make uniform irregular fonts, paragraphs, colors, layouts and styles; use 4000+ well-designed vector diagrams automatically; use their own libraries with over 100, 400 diagrams, images and icons; combine images and slides; and more!
  • Neo/Ipsum by Justin Bretschneider – Makes it easy to populate PowerPoint placeholders with dummy text (Lorem Ipsum and other more ‘real life’ type text) for graphics, slides, or template mockups to clients. Fill the entire deck, the current slide, or a specific slide. The add-in even works in Word and Excel.
  • Talk Time by YOUpresent – Helps you manage and plan the timing of your delivery when you are physically present with your audience. This is a major upgrade to PowerPoint's built-in Rehearse Timings feature.

Yes, these PowerPoint add-ins are all free but they’re SO AWESOME that we encourage you to donate something when you go to their site as a ‘thank you’.

Presentation technology & software

Although your slides should speak for themselves, sometimes you just need an extra little ‘je ne sais quoi’. These technologies will help you deliver a better presentation, and get your audience more engaged:

  • Glisser – This cool new start-up offers a presentation tool that allows you to integrate social interaction (like lide-by-slide ‘like’ voting, live audience questions, comments and Tweets) into your presentations to help keep your audience engaged, and then generates data that helps you make your presentations better.
  • LeadDigits – Have you ever given a presentation and wanted a smooth way to give the entire audience your slides, or have them all sign up for your newsletter? It’s easy-peazy lemon-squeezy with the LeadDigits function of LeadPages, a company we use and LOVE.
  • PollEverywhere – This polling software lets your audience vote on their own mobile device –  computers, tablets, phones (through both texting and web) – anything. There are many brands of such polling software out there (and a new one seems to come out each day), but this is our favorite one as it integrates seamlessly into PowerPoint.

And while PowerPoint is still the dominant presentation software out there, here are two cool new web-based software that let you build presentations, infographics, posters, and more. They’re both easy to use, are great for getting design inspiration, upload to the cloud, have lots of high-quality graphics and images, and are based on a ‘freemium’ model.

  • Canva – Check out Canva’s blog with highly stylized and trendy work to give you a few new ideas for your deck, or use it to create something too. We’ve used it to create posters and infographics and we love that so much of it is free (or just $1 per asset).
  • Visme  – A newcomer to the scene, Visme does a great job of providing quality designs and images for its users. Create a free account, which allows you 3 projects, or upgrade to $7/mo or $16/mo, which may be more cost-effective than Canva depending on how much you’re using it.
  • Piktochart - An intuitive online platform that allows you to create beautiful infographics, flyers, posters, presentations and reports easily with absolutely no design experience.

Slide & asset management

If you work in a big corporation or work with other people on hundreds of slides, it can be quite challenging to keep organized and make sure that all your digital assets are kept up-to-date. Here are some amazing services that will solve those problems in one go!

  • Templafy – Updated your logo and need that change to be reflected across your entire company’s “About Us” slides in thousands of presentations? No problem! With Templafy, you can manage your digital assets so they stay up-to-date across all of your corporate documents (what a relief!).
  • SlideSource – Ever have to manage 10,000+ slides for a SINGLE presentation and all of their iterations? I used to do this using a system of folders and naming conventions, but with SlideSource, the days of creating nested folders and V1, V2, V3…V78 are over!
  • TeamSlide – Helps your team find and manage all of your PowerPoint slides and resources (no small feat), giving you effortless access to the PowerPoint content your team needs to be productive.

Photo editors, color pickers, and other tools

Here are some awesome free tools we use to work with images and colors:

  • Vector Magic – Creates a vector out of any image. WE LOVE THIS TOOL!
  • GIFmaker.me – Creates animated GIFs from your pictures. Easy to use and entirely free.
  • Compressor – A free compression tool that will take your large pictures (JPG and PNG) and reduce them without losing quality. Great for big decks with lots of images.
  • ColorZilla – A free add-in for Firefox and Chrome that allows you to pick colors from websites. This is super handy if you’re building a deck for a corporate client and don’t know their corporate colors.
  • ColorCop – A free multi-purpose color picker tool for Windows, that we recommend for anyone using PowerPoint 2010 and earlier (the Eyedropper was introduced in PPT 2013). An alternative is Pixie, another free tool for up to Windows 2000. Thanks to Michael for the recommendation!
  • iSpring Free – This free software will convert your PowerPoint presentation into a Flash or HTML5 file, while keeping all the animations, transitions, and hyperlinks. Great for training and educational decks.
  • Plot Digitizer – Ever receive a slide with a chart that was not actually a chart… but a picture of a chart? And maybe it was missing data labels? So how do you recreate this chart natively in PPT or Excel? Well this free piece of software allows you to do just that to 99.99% accuracy.
  • TinEye – If you ever need to find the source of an image you’re using that you found online but can’t remember where (don’t infringe on copyrights!)…simply upload your image and it will search the web for the original source. You can also download a plugin that does the magic directly within your browser. The plugin adds a context menu item that allows you to search for an image to find out where it came from, how it is being used, if modified versions of the image exist, or to find higher resolution versions.
  • Nitro – This free tool (if you want the software on your desktop, you will need to pay for it) will convert your PDF into Word if you’re not able to do it directly within Word (by going to File > Open, and selecting your PDF).

And if you’d like a robust & free alternative to Adobe Photoshop, check out Editor by Pixlr.com. Thanks to Jude for the recommendation!

Presentation inspiration

Sometimes you simply run out of ideas. It happens to all of us. So here are some places you can go for more slide and presentation inspiration:

  • Canva Design School Blog – This blog consistently comes up with great blog posts about design that you can apply to your presentations…the entire website is like designer eye-candy.
  • SlideShare – Although you have to sift through a large amount of presentation – and there are some bad ones there – SlideShare is still a great place to get inspiration. Check out their ‘featured’ section too.
  • TerbergDesigns – Julie Terberg is the Design Maven and her site has some great examples of professional presentations to look at.
  • Pinterest – If you go to Pinterest and type ‘slide design’, you can find some pretty good and varied examples to pull from.
  • Creative Market’s Templates – Although this site sells templates and slide mock-ups, it’s a great place to get new ideas for presenting your content.
  • Just look around you! Flip through magazines, look at advertising, book covers, movie posters, business journals, design magazines…these media can provide a wealth of juice to fuel your creativity.

Equipment for working in PowerPoint

Use the best equipment…because why use a match when you could use a blowtorch?

Important considerations

You’ve asked, so here it is! This is the exact computer equipment we use to work in PowerPoint and be super-duper-quick, and why.

If you are using the full setup, mouse and keyboard (which I hope you are!), there are a number of different things to keep in mind when choosing your equipment, which we go into in each tab of this section.

As you’ll notice, we’re slightly obsessed with Logitech as you can see, but we’ve found their products to be reliable, sturdy and overall awesome. Plus, they use a unifying receiver, which means that your mouse, keyboard, number pad, etc. can all be hooked up with the same USB bit.

Mouse

Here is our everyday mouse: The Logitech Wireless Performance Mouse MX for PC and Mac

Here is the mouse we use when we travel: The Logitech Wireless Anywhere Mouse MX for PC and Mac

Things to take into account when choosing a mouse:

1. Handling/Comfort

We find that the best mice are comfortable to hold and fit nicely in your palm. This also means that your fingers should be able to easily reach the different buttons on the mouse. The MX is THE most comfortable mouse we have found out there, and if you’re spending a lot of time on your computer, you don’t want to get a hand cramp.

 2. Extra buttons and options

Some mice have special added functions that, believe it or not, will make a big difference in the way you use your mouse. At a bare minimum, a scroll wheel is a MUST for PowerPoint to zoom in and out. Other buttons are worth looking at too, for example, if you have forward and backward buttons and install the software you can from your mouse:

  • In PowerPoint – Move forward or backward a slide
  • In Excel – Move forward or backward a sheet
  • In Web Browsers – Move forward or backward a slide

If you actually use the buttons they can be extremely helpful for getting stuff done!

3. Surface functionality

If you travel a lot, or like to take your computer to coffee shops and other venues, another thing that is super important for your mouse is its ability to recognize various surfaces.

Have you ever tried to use your mouse on a glass table? Doesn’t work for most mice. But no problem for the MX.

4. Cordless

It’s not a necessity, but we prefer mice that can move around more easily and aren’t limited in terms of mobility. It’s also nice to not have to get all tangled up in more cords.

5. Travel mice / small USB receivers

First of all it’s nice to have a small USB receiver rather than a large one sticking out of your computer. Secondly, if you are traveling or moving around a lot, it’s nice if that USB receiver can snap back into your mouse. That way you don’t have to worry about losing the receiver or having the receiver break when you are moving your computer around. Something to keep in mind as you are shopping the shelves.

Keyboard

Here is the keyboard we use: The Logitech diNovo Edge Keyboard

Things to keep in mind when choosing a keyboard:

1. Noise

We personally hate the sound of noisy typists, particularly when it is us and it gives us away on a conference call…honestly, we are just taking thorough notes!

2. Unifying receiver

I only have so many USB jacks, having to insert a separate one for a keyboard is painful. This is a major advantage over our diNovo Edge, the Logitech Wireless Illuminated Keyboard K800 uses the same unifying receiver as our mouse.

3. Full number pad

If you use PowerPoint and Excel, make sure you have a keypad…if you have never used one, learn now as it’s much faster for inputting data. The K800  has a keypad on it…we had to supplement our diNovo Edge with a keypad for crunching numbers. We use the Logitech Wireless Number Pad N305.

4. Keyboard trackpad

We personally feel that a mouse on the keyboard itself (one of those little swipe areas that acts like a mouse) is not very useful. I would advise against buying a keyboard specifically for this reason as our DiNovo Edge had one and we used it infrequently.

5. Battery life

Battery life counts and what you can or cannot do with your keyboard while it’s charging makes a big difference. Our diNovo Edge had awesome battery life, approximately 2 months! The K800 definitely has less at only 6 to 10 days on a single charge. That said, the K800 can charge from a USB port, while the DiNovo Edge had to sit in its own special stand to charge.

Presenter / laser pointer

Here is the presenter we use: The Logitech Professional Presenter R800

Are you using your decks for live presentations? If so, we highly recommend the R800. We love this presenter because it has a huge range which allows you to walk around a room and not have to worry about reaching your content.

Update: The latest we've heard is that the hot new presenter on the block is Logitech's Spotlight. We haven't used it personally, but it was on full display at the 2017 Presentation Summit and everyone was LOVING IT!

PowerPoint & presentation design books

TJ Katopis has a great list of his favorite books, called "The Presenter's Bookshelf," in which he details some of his favorite books and other resources — on design theory and practice, data visualization, presentation design, layout, type, color, business writing, public speaking, inspiration, and more. 

Also, check out our student David Benaim's Vimeo channel, where he teaches cool things like how to filter google image results, how to identify & shrink bloated file sizes, how to type live in presentation mode, and various interesting data visualisation methods.

Other useful tools & presentation software

Here are some other tools we've come across and found quite useful, in the process of creating live presentations or documents:

  • PDFElement - This PDF creator and editor allows you to do many things you can't normally do with PDFs, such as edit and annotate PDFs quickly, create and convert PDFs from/to other file formats (such as Word and PPT), fill forms and sign contracts easily, and use OCR to transform scanned PDFs into editable text.
  • Piktochart - An intuitive online platform that allows you to create beautiful infographics, flyers, posters, presentations and reports easily with absolutely no design experience.
  • Visme - This online platform is incredibly easy to use and allows you to craft
    engaging presentations, infographics and other visual content with just a few clicks of the mouse.

What's next?

Updated on November 25, 2018

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