Advanced PowerPoint:

Title: Jan's Illustrated Computer Literacy 101

Did you want: Working with Presentations: PowerPoint 2007,2010,2013,2016 or español

People really love pictures! Adding images to your presentation makes it more interesting and attractive, at least when you choose well!

Your images should add information, not distract from your information.

Collage of images - photos and clip art

Where you are:
JegsWorks > Lessons > Presentations

Before you start...

Project 1: PowerPoint BasicsTo subtopics

Project 2: PowerPoint FormattingTo subtopics

Project 3: Advanced PowerPoint
    OutlineTo subtopics
    Images Arrow to Subtopics
    Icon: Step-by-StepBackground Image
    Icon: Step-by-StepMaster Image
    Icon: Step-by-StepSlide Image
    Icon: Step-by-StepAnimate Images
    Tables & ChartsTo subtopics
    FinishingTo subtopics
    ExercisesTo subtopics


Common Errors with Images in Presentations

What you see on the projection screen is not quite what you see on your monitor when you create your presentation. The slide on the screen will be fuzzier and at least somewhat washed out (paler with less contrast). This is important to your choice of images.

Below are some examples of common errors when using images in presentations:

  • Hard to read

    Photo background with black text. Text on dark parts hard to read. Photo background with white text. Text on light parts hard to read.

    It is hard to format text to be easy to read when the background has both light and dark areas. Think about how much text you will be using and where it will go on the slide when choosing a background.

  • Too large

    Image crowds text

    Don't crowd the text.

  • Too small

    Image too small.

    Too small is hard to see. Why bother?

  • Enlarged image gets pixilated

    A small image that is resized larger can get pixilated.

    A small photo or bitmap drawing that you drag larger will get pixilated (showing splotches and jagged edges where each pixel was enlarged). You will lose even more sharpness when the slide is projected on a screen.

  • Washed out

    Original image of beach  Projected image tends to be lighter, washed out.
    The original image when projected on a screen will be lighter and have less contrast. How much change there is depends on the particular projector and the room lighting. Will you lose important details when your slide is projected? A pale image can fade right out of sight!

Image File Formats

List of image file formats recognized by PowerPointPowerPoint can accept images in a number of different file formats, listed at the right in the order that they appear in the Insert dialog's file type box.

The extension part of the file name (the letters after the dot) identifies the format. However, some file formats have several variations. So, having the right extension does not guarantee that you can import the image. So confusing!

Some formats are primarily used for photos, such as jpg and pcd. Other formats are best for drawings, like gif or cdr. Some formats contain extra information, like keywords or transparent colors or layers. There are far more image file formats out there than any one program can deal with!

WarningFor each image format there is an import filter that must be installed before you can actually use that type of image. The filters are not all installed by default. You can add filters as you need to, but you must have the installation CD to do so. In recent versions of PowerPoint (and Office), you may be prompted to install a new filter when you need one.

General Types of Image Formats

Bitmap images define the color of each pixel in the image. Photos are bitmap images, as are many drawings.

Vector images use equations to calculate shapes. Clip art images are often vector images. Vector images can be enlarged or reduced without losing quality.

What is Clip Art?

The term clip art is usually applied to images that are drawn, as opposed to photographs. Clip art images are likely to be fairly simple, like cartoons. In the collage of images above, there are three photos. The rest are clip art.

The term "clip art" comes from the days before computers. In those olden days, to include a photo or drawing in a document you had to physically cut out (or "clip") the image and paste it together with the text.

To confuse things, some collections of "clip art" do include photos and fonts.

Managing Images: Clip Gallery/Organizer

Your Microsoft programs often come with a number of clip art images plus a clip art management program that shows you a small picture of each image, called a thumbnail. Other collections of images may also come with management software.

Searching for an image:

Searching on keywords is more flexible than on filenames. An image can have many keywords attached to it but filenames are usually quite short.

  • Search by filename: You can use Windows' Search feature to look for an image only if you know part of the filename. Many image collections use un-helpful names like LH01258A.WMF. Even for images with better names, like elephanteating.wmf, the image will be listed in the search results only if your search terms were part of the file's name, like "elephant" or "eat" or "ant".

  • Search by keywords: Keywords are added to images in collections by the software company that produced the collection. With some programs you can add your own keywords. The keywords are not actually part of the image file itself. Only the management software by that company can see the keywords.
    Example: Elephant eating hay. What keywords apply?How it works: The image at the right of an elephant eating hay could have the keywords "elephant, hay, wildlife, tusk, eating". What other keywords would fit this image?
    The image will show up in the results of a search of the collection that used any  of the keywords.

Images are grouped in Categories or Collections, like Office, Nature, or Transportation. You can also manage your collections of sounds and videos with the same program.

Different versions of Office use somewhat different clip art programs.


Office 2002/2003:
 Microsoft Clip Organizer

Clip Organizer - Office Collection: Travel

Clip Organizer calls the categories Collections. The Collections are shown in a hierarchy tree on the left. You can add your own collections but you cannot add to the collections that come with Office programs.

Search Tips

Different collection management programs will have different rules for how to search using keywords. These rules may be very different from those for Internet searches.

What you need to know:

  • How to search with more than one keyword at once-
         for "school" OR "algebra"

  • How to require a certain keyword or file type -
         for "school" AND "bus" because you want to see images of school buses

  • How to avoid including images with a particular keyword or file type-
         not including jpg and other photo formats or not "yellow" if you don't want a yellow school bus.

Microsoft Office Insert Clip Art task pane:

  • AND
    Put a space between keywords, like school bus, to insist that both keywords apply. The results will be images of school buses.

  • OR
    Type a comma between words if you mean word1 OR word2, like  school, bus. Results will include all images with the keyword school and all images with the keyword bus. Not just school buses.

Microsoft Images

Some Microsoft Office programs, like PowerPoint and Publisher, come with a large number of clip art images. Other programs come with just a few images. The different versions of these programs do not come with the same images! The clip art gallery/organizer will not automatically list the clip art you already have. After installing the new version, you may be prompted to let the program look for other clip art.

If you install more programs from the same version of Office, the clip art program for that version of Office should see all the images that were added by those programs. There can be problems when you mix programs from different versions of Office or when you upgrade.

When you install clip art from Microsoft programs, you will have a choice of installing the images to your hard disk or leaving them on the CD. The thumbnails will show in the clip art program either way. If you leave the images on the CD to save hard disk space, you will have to have the CD in order to actually use the images.

TipOffice XP and 2003: Microsoft Clip Organizer does not come with as much clip art as did previous Microsoft Clip Gallery versions. If you need some of those older images, or just want more clip art, you can download  free images from Microsoft's Design Gallery Live. However, neither your own images nor what you download can be merged into the collections that came with Clip Organizer. The images will be saved to folders in My Collections instead of Office Collections.

Other Sources for Images

clip art collection: MasterClipsclip art collection: Corel GalleryIf your Microsoft programs don't have what you want, there are many other sources for images for your documents. Most graphics programs come with some images. Separate image collections are widely sold. Some specialize in clip art drawings and others in photographs or images for web pages. There are web sites that offer free images or a subscription to access images for a given period of time.

You can add these images from other sources to the Clip Art Gallery or Organizer, if you wish. If there are  keywords assigned to the images, you won't be able to see them except with the management program that comes with the clip art. You can create your own keywords in Microsoft Clip Art Gallery/Organizer to describe them and assign categories.

Many other image management programs are on the market. Some include the ability to convert an image to a different format and even to do some image editing tasks like cropping or changing colors.

Create your own images: You can create your own images, of course! While Paint is a very basic graphics program, with patience you can create very useful and even elaborate images. There are many capable graphics programs on the market. These programs either work with bitmap images, like Paint does, or with vector images like those you can make with Button: Drawing the Drawing Bar tools, where the shapes are calculated. 


Copyright laws control what you can do with images that were created by someone else. The creator must grant you permission to do anything at all with the images, so the situation varies a lot. Commercial clip art and photos are sold, usually in collections, with permission automatically granted for certain kinds of use. You can generally use such images to create handouts, memos, letters, advertising brochures, presentations, and the like. But commercial images can never be resold or given away to others in any way without specific permission. Read the licensing agreement!

It is easy to copy an image from the Internet or scan a picture, but you do not automatically have the legal right to use that image. Internet images are sometimes made available by their creators for free use by all, or perhaps free for non-commercial use (meaning that you aren't to sell the image or make money with it in any way). Unless the web site tells you differently, you must assume that the images are NOT available for your use. (This may be the most ignored rule in the world!)