Using Powerpoint Templates

By J. A. Hitchcock
As seen in LAPTOP magazine

It’s time to stop using the basic templates that come with PowerPoint. These are the same ones many other people use. They might change the background color or font, but the graphics, animations and themes remain intact so that your presentation begins to look like someone else’s. You need something different, something unusual, something that will make your audience sit up, take notice and actually enjoy your presentation.

You can jazz up your next PowerPoint presentation easily and quickly with some almost-free nifty templates, royalty-free photos and animations, clipart, and more. It doesn’t take much to make PowerPoint work better for and with you.

RnR PPPTools Starter Set is a free add-on that provides additional options to PowerPoint you’ve wished were already there. After installing the software, you’ll find a pop-up window showing the RnR PPTools Preferences. Set these up first, then either drag this window to the side or dock it with the PowerPoint toolbar. The buttons can appear as icons or text, but until you get the hang of using them, text buttons are advised.

Four toolbars are available: MASTER, EDIT, PROGRAMMING and WINUTILS. The MASTER toolbar is where you change preferences; EDIT has several tools for easier positioning of shapes, text, and more; PROGRAMMING allows you to click on an object in a slide to see what the object is, if it’s linked and what it’s linked to; WINUTILS provides fast access to Windows programs without going to the START menu, including Notepad, Calculator, Media Player and Character Map. If you find these free tools are useful, check out the others available on their web site, starting at just $29.95.

Web Site Estates offers free PowerPoint templates, with new ones added frequently. The templates are split into two categories: students/educators or business/entrepreneurs, then each category offers several themes. The catch? There are four to six free templates per theme - if you really like what you see, but want more choices, then you do have to pay. But at $19.99 for over 200 PowerPoint templates, it’s not a bad deal. Plus, you get to preview thumbnails of most of the templates for a theme before deciding whether or not to purchase it.

Clicking on the business/entrepreneurs category shows the following themes: Business; Travel; Abstract; Transportation; Sports; Architecture; E-Commerce; Miscellaneous; and Music. All of the free templates are better than most freebies available. Clicking on the template desired brings you to the download page, with instructions for MS Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator. Some nice free extras on this site include advice on creating, presenting and delivering your presentation, information on presentation software and where to buy it, plus links to other web sites.

PowerPlugs from CrystalGraphics has 24 packages to choose from beginning at $19/each, but offers a larger selection of choices than the others mentioned - not only templates, but also charts, 3D titles, animations, shapes, quotations, and much more. Or buy the whole shebang in a 10-CD set for $599 and save 45% (if you bought them separately, they would cost $900). All of these mesh seamlessly with PowerPoint and include free updates whether you buy them separately or as the Ultimate Combo package. If you’re still not convinced, each PowerPlugs component is available as a free download, 30-day trial on their web site.

From free to almost-free to paid, there’s sure to be something here to fit your budget. . .and your presentation needs.

Some other sites that offer free PowerPoint templates: - 208 template kits with 8 templates (including holiday-themes) – Offers a variety of templates, some with animation - 36 templates to choose from - Over a dozen unusual templates

J.A. Hitchcock is a regular contributor to Compute Me. Visit her web site at

Return to the Compute Me Reviews main page.