PowerPoint 2013 is the most popular presentation software in the world. Presentation software creates support materials for people who give speeches. You can project PowerPoint slides on a big screen behind you as you speak, create handouts to distribute to the audience, and print note pages for your own reference. PowerPoint can also create self-running presentations for distribution via CD or online.

You can learn here how to start a new presentation, add slides and text to it, and move and resize the content on a slide. In later lessons, you learn how to add other types of content and special effects to a show.

In PowerPoint, you work with slides and presentations rather than pages and documents (as in Word) or worksheets and workbooks (as in Excel).

A slide is an individual page of the presentation. The term page isn’t a perfect descriptor, though, because PowerPoint slides are designed to be displayed on a computer screen or with a projector rather than printed. A presentation is a collection of one or more slides saved in a single data file.

At a big-picture level, the PowerPoint interface is very similar to that in Word and Excel: It has a Ribbon, a File tab, and a status bar. The default view of the presentation, called Normal view, consists of three panes, as shown in this figure. (You may or may not see the rulers onscreen, depending on your settings.)

  • The Slides pane is the bar along the left side. Thumbnail images of the slides appear here. It is sometimes called the thumbnails pane.

  • The Slide pane (that’s singular, not plural) in the middle shows the active slide in a large, editable pane. Here’s where you do most of your work on each slide. It is sometimes called the editing pane.

  • The Notes pane runs along the bottom of the screen. Here you can type any notes to yourself about the active slide. These notes don’t show onscreen when you display the presentation, and they don’t print (unless you explicitly choose to print them).