Microsoft Office PowerPoint Cheat Sheet

Learn more, save time and be more productive with the best Microsoft PowerPoint cheat sheet for both PC and Mac. Let's dive in.

Microsoft PowerPoint is the leading presentation software on the market. It allows you to deliver your message with the use of slideshows consisting of text, images, video, 3D models, and much more. You can tell a story with confidence, no matter where you're in the world. PowerPoint allows you to comfortably share your work with classmates, friends, colleagues, or even in front of a large audience. To achieve this, our PowerPoint cheat sheet guides come in handy.

Even if you're an entry-level user or simply don't know much about design, PowerPoint is the perfect tool. The easy-to-use and user-friendly features enable you to make professional and eye-catching presentations all the while expressing yourself. We’re here to help you take full advantage of what PowerPoint offers and take your presentations to the next level using a few tips and tricks.

Tip: If your friends, colleagues, or your employees need to learn more about PowerPoint, don’t be shy and share this article! Knowledge is power, and you can help others learn by sharing our article.

Jump To:

  1. How to hide the Ribbon
  2. File menu, the backstage area
  3. Tell me what you want to do
  4. Different view modes
  5. Use QuickStart to set up a presentation
  6. Useful PowerPoint shortcuts everyone should know

Perpetual Vs. Subscription License? Which one should you go for?

Just like most Office suite applications, PowerPoint is available for purchase in two different ways. Both of these versions offer different pros and cons that are more suitable for contrasting audiences. If you don’t know which version of PowerPoint you should purchase, definitely give this section a read.

If you want to own PowerPoint forever and only pay a one-time price, Microsoft offers the option to buy the application with a perpetual license. This is definitely the cost-efficient plan, as you only need to pay once, but it has some negatives which may impact a more demanding customer. When you buy PowerPoint with a perpetual license, you won’t get any future software updates, meaning that you’ll only be able to use the version available at the time. There’s no way around this; you’re required to make further purchases for future versions.

On the other hand, buying an Office 365 subscription is definitely a long-term investment when it comes to money, but it has certain benefits. Subscription fees range from $10 per month to $100 per year, but you get immediate access to a large selection of Office applications and services which you can use alongside PowerPoint. Additionally, many applications have features that are only available with the Office 365 version. If you’re looking to actively work with Office for the foreseeable future, we definitely recommend going with subscription-based licensing.

Get to know the Ribbon interface

The Ribbon has been a major part of Office suite applications for many years now, as it was first introduced back in Office 2007. It was designed with easier navigation in mind and put an end to the use of old-fashioned menus with multiple tiers of sub-menus. With the Ribbon, you get simpler navigation with a heavily visual interface that helps you locate the tools you know and love quickly. The Ribbon is your main and only way of navigating in PowerPoint, opening up the opportunities to format text, insert elements, implement animations, tweak your slides, and access features.

Unlike earlier PowerPoint releases, the Ribbon in new versions such as PowerPoint 2016 and PowerPoint 2019 has a flatter, more appealing design to allow for less clutter on your screen, distracting you from your work. This minimalist interface gives PowerPoint a modern and stylish look that sets it apart from competitors. The location of tools and features is roughly the same as in previous versions, so you shouldn’t have trouble finding your favorite commands. If you’re struggling, just use the new Tell Me feature.

PowerPoint Ribbon
Slide master interface

How to hide the Ribbon

When needed, you’re able to hide the Ribbon at any point in time with a few simple clicks. This is a universal tip among Office applications, so we advise you to memorize it if you work with apps such as Word and Excel.

There are several settings and ways to alter how the Ribbon displays itself by default. At the top right of your screen, you'll see an icon titled "Ribbon Display Options," which opens a drop-down menu with three different options:

How to hide ribbon in PowerPoint

  • Auto-hide Ribbon: This option hides the Ribbon itself, as well as the tabs and commands in it by default. When this is selected, the only way to make the Ribbon and its contents appear is by clicking on the top section of the PowerPoint screen.
  • Show Tabs: This option keeps the tabs of the Ribbon but hides all commands underneath. You can show commands by either click on one of the tabs, pressing the Ctrl + F1 keys on your keyboard, or selecting the “Show Tabs and Commands” option instead.
  • Show Tabs and Commands: With this option, you get to see the full Ribbon with both its tabs and commands visible at all times.

File menu, the backstage area

Back stage view

When you click the File menu in PowerPoint and other Office applications, you'll arrive at the area Microsoft calls "backstage". Here, instead of seeing a tab with commands lined up, you get a full-page view of information and different basic features to open and save files, printing and other sharing options.

Additionally, you can use the File menu to see information about your current slideshow. This means seeing the time it was created, last modified, the owner, as well as the file size, and much more. You can also check for accessibility issues, add password protection or as the owner of a file, change the permissions of your co-editors.

Tell me what you want to do

Tell me

The new "Tell me what you want to do" or simply "Tell Me" feature aims to bring tools within reach even if you don’t know their exact place in the Ribbon. You can use it by clicking on it right next to the View tab on the Ribbon or pressing the Alt + Q keys on your keyboard. You'll notice that the feature allows you to type - this is when you can tell PowerPoint what you want to do.

Based on your query, PowerPoint will suggest tools that relate to your search. For instance, if you type in “change slide background,” the Tell Me bar will automatically display options that allow you to perform that exact task.

Even if you consider yourself a PowerPoint guru, the Tell Me feature can help speed up your work. You’ll never have to dig through the Ribbon or search online to find a feature again.

Different view modes

When creating presentations, getting a different perspective on your work is helpful. PowerPoint has many view modes that allow you to look better at the slides you’ve created, often from a different perspective. There is a little rundown on the available view modes and how they function:

  • Normal view: The default view PowerPoint loads in. This includes all the essentials you need to work such as the Ribbon, the Slide pane as well as the Notes pane.
  • Outline view: A view that heavily focuses on your content. Use this view to adjust the structure of your slide, or add larger amounts of text.
  • Slide Sorter view: This view displays every existing slide in your presentation on one single screen. It allows you to rearrange the order of slides, or easily add transition effects between slides.
  • Notes Page view: Displays your presentation slides in a print layout while showing your notes beneath each slide. Handy for reviewing work.
  • Reading view: This is the view you want to use to easily review your presentations once they're completed. You'll get a window where you can quickly transition between slides by using simple controls.
  • Slide Show view: The view used for presenting your slides in a slide show environment. Use this view when presenting your slide to your audience.

Use QuickStart to set up a presentation

Quick start feature

If you feel intimidated by a blank slideshow, you can use the Office 365 exclusive feature called QuickStarter when beginning to work on a new presentation. Give yourself a head-start by not wasting time on doing research and document outlines.

The QuickStarter tool allows you to type in the topic of your presentation when you make a new document. Then, choose from a list of subtopics and see the magic happen as QuickStarter gathers resources via the Bing search engine and Wikipedia. Review the generated slides, choose which ones to keep, and begin customizing!

QuickStarter completes each slide with a theme and background graphics if any images are found. Once you're done, start editing and fine-tuning the details and content. Voila!

Don’t forget to turn AutoSave on

If you don't want to constantly save your work while worrying about losing it, the AutoSave feature is made for you. Working digitally, a lot of things can go wrong in a short amount of time. Think about how often you've experienced a power outage, system crash, or simply had Office stop running due to an error. With AutoSave turned on, you'll never have to freak out if any of these things happen to you while working on a presentation.

  • Note: This feature is only available for Office 365 users. Additionally, it only saves documents stored in either OneDrive, OneDrive for Business or SharePoint Online.

In addition to automatically saving your work as you type, AutoSave enables you to restore older file versions via Version History.

Useful PowerPoint shortcuts everyone should know

To end this cheat sheet, we decided to include some of the most helpful PowerPoint keyboard shortcuts you can use to speed up your work:

  • Ctrl + Mouse wheel spin: Canvas zoom.
  • Alt + Shirt + Up and Down: Reorder a bulleted or numbered list without cutting and pasting the text.
  • Tab: Toggle through objects, layers, and elements.
  • Ctrl + Z: Undo your last edit.
  • Ctrl + A: Select all objects in your current slide.
  • Ctrl + G: Group selected objects together.
  • Shift + Left mouse button: Keep proportions to draw perfect squares and circles, and keep the proportions of images when resizing.
  • Ctrl + D: Duplicate the currently selected object(s).
  • Ctrl + M: Insert a new slide.
  • Shift + F9: Toggle the grid lines.
  • Ctrl + L: Activate the virtual laser pointer in the Slide Show view.

Use the PowerPoint Design Ideas tool

Design Ideas — also called the PowerPoint Designer — is your personal helper in making your slide visually appealing. After putting in all your content, such as text and images, simply turn the tool on and look at the ideas it generated using your elements.

All design suggestions are randomly generated, meaning the possibility of coming across the same suggestion is low. This ensures that your slides are always original, which is especially good when you’re presenting a common topic.

At the time of writing, only Office 365 subscribers have access to the Design Ideas tool in the desktop application itself.  

Read more about the design ideas tool here: What is the PowerPoint Desing Ideas tool?