A new opportunity for PowerPoint users

Hilary Cadman Software, Tips Leave a Comment

PerfectIt is a fantastic tool for editors – I use it when editing in Word, to both save time and improve the quality of my work. Basically, the program finds inconsistencies in things such as spelling, capitalisation and use of numbers; it also picks up deviations from a specific style. Despite using PerfectIt since 2009, I’m still blown away by what it can do in Word, so I was delighted to find that this tool is now available to PowerPoint users!

PerfectIt is extremely user friendly. In PowerPoint, it launches from a PerfectIt 5 tab on the ribbon and runs in a sidebar. It is easy to get started, there is a big button that says ‘Start’ and clicking that sets PerfectIt 5 running through its various tests. Once PerfectIt has identified an inconsistency – for example, the use of both ‘recognise’ and ‘recognize’ – it explains the problem (i.e. that a word is spelled in two different ways), allows you to choose which spelling you prefer (e.g. recognise) and then makes it easy for you to fix the issue (i.e. convert instances of ‘recognize’ to ‘recognise’).

In PowerPoint, PerfectIt runs about 10 different tests that fall into two main groups – hyphenation and dashes, and spelling consistency. It quickly analyses the content of the slides, then presents the issues one at a time, and gives the user complete control over what to change or ignore.

Increasing the power of PerfectIt

In its simplest form, PerfectIt just checks for inconsistencies within a Word document or deck of slides. However, the power of the program is greatly increased by using a style sheet. How does this work? Well, imagine that your client’s style guide specifies ‘handout’ with no hyphen, and your set of slides contains just the term ‘hand-out’. If you run PerfectIt as a consistency checker, it will not see ‘hand-out’ as a problem, because the hyphenation is consistent. However, if you run PerfectIt on those same slides using the client’s style guide that is set to prefer ‘handout’, PerfectIt will pick up the deviation from the preferred style, tell you that the preferred term is ‘handout’ and give you the chance to fix all instances of ‘hand-out’. Thus, when you use PerfectIt with a style sheet, it is more powerful because it will pick up both inconsistencies and deviations from the preferred style.

PerfectIt comes with a whole set of built-in style guides, covering different spellings (Australian, Canadian, UK and US) and organisations (e.g. EU, GPO and WHO). In addition, users can amend those style sheets to reflect client requirements.

Who will benefit from PerfectIt for PowerPoint?

If you work with large decks of PowerPoint slides, PerfectIt for PowerPoint will be a real game changer! For example, an instructional designer preparing training and exam materials will find PerfectIt useful for picking up errors and deviations from the strict style rules that apply to such products. Similarly, a management consultant presenting a final report in a long PowerPoint deck will welcome the chance to save time and improve quality by checking the slides in PerfectIt.

User experience: testing PerfectIt in PowerPoint

I tested the product on a deck of about 100 PowerPoint slides, using a PerfectIt style sheet that I have customised for the client (style sheets created in the Word version are automatically available in the PowerPoint version). I launched PerfectIt and pressed ‘Start’. PerfectIt took a couple of minutes to analyse the slides before it came up with the first issue, which was Hyphenation of Phrases. The interface resembles that in Word, with the name and description of the test at the top, a choice of whether to hyphenate the term (in this case, ‘district level’) or not, and the option of fixing each phrase that did not match the chosen hyphenation individually or fixing all instances at once. I made those changes, then simply pressed ‘Next’ to move on to the next issue.

At the end of the run, I looked at the ‘Summary of PowerPoint changes’ report, which indicated that PerfectIt found about twenty issues under five different tests (hyphenation of phrases, hyphenation of words, preferred spelling, spelling variations and contractions). This may not sound much, but some of those issues appeared up to seven or eight times, so fixing them at one go with PerfectIt saved me a lot of of time. And of course, using my client-specific PerfectIt style sheet made it so much easier to adhere to the client’s style.

The summary report could have another purpose. Given that PowerPoint does not track changes, the report could be useful in letting the client know what changes have been made to their document.

The verdict

PerfectIt for PowerPoint is an effective extension of this useful editing tool. Even from my test run, I could see that it would be well worth using PerfectIt on a large set of slides. The similar interface in Word and PowerPoint means that anyone who is familiar with using PerfectIt with Word could seamlessly switch to using it with PowerPoint. If you work with slide decks that need to be of high quality and adhere to a particular style, I encourage you to give PerfectIt for PowerPoint a try.

Hilary CadmanA new opportunity for PowerPoint users

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