5 Elements of PowerPoint

By Darrin Koltow

PowerPoint's many features can be overwhelming to new presenters. As you work with the program, it can be useful to create a list of the PowerPoint elements you use most often. Consider the operations you perform in PowerPoint, as well as the content and data that those operations impact. A benefit of listing PowerPoint's elements is that you can concentrate on learning one element at a time. Here’s a sample element list that you can use as a template for making your own: PowerPoint’s user interface, slides, content, formatting, and presentation playback.

User Interface

The most visible element of PowerPoint is its user interface—the screens, dialog boxes, buttons, panes, and other parts of the application window. The biggest part of the interface is the pane for creating and editing slides. The toolbar, called the Ribbon, is another big chunk of the application window. Unlike versions of PowerPoint older than 2003, the Ribbon's tabs may change depending on the command you’re running. For example, if you insert an arrow shape on a slide, the Ribbon will display a new tab: "Drawing Tools." This tab is filled with previously unavailable commands for formatting the arrow.


The slide is the PowerPoint element on which you insert text, graphics, audio, video, and animations. You can create new slides by pressing “Ctrl-M” or by clicking “New Slide” on the Home tab. Delete slides by selecting them in PowerPoint‘s left pane and then pressing the “Delete” key. Arrange slides by dragging them in the slide thumbnail pane. Change slide dimensions by clicking the "Page Setup” button on the Design tab.


PowerPoint's content types include static text and graphics, audio, video, and animation created inside PowerPoint itself. Most of the commands for creating content are on the Insert tab. For example, the Media Clips group has a "Movie" option for importing videos. Use the Animation tab for creating new animations, such as entrance and exit effects on a slide's graphics and text.


Formatting commands are the PowerPoint element with which you decorate the content on your slides. The Home tab, for example, has many of the same formatting commands as Microsoft Word, including character-level tools such as "Bold," and paragraph-level tools that include "Align Text Left." Another tab, "Design," has a group of commands called Themes that let you apply font and color changes to all of the slides in your presentation at once.

Presentation Playback

The final slide presentation will be the only PowerPoint element that your audience sees, if you’ve saved the presentation with the extension PPSX. In that case, clicking the PPSX file brings up the presentation directly, and not the PowerPoint interface you used to create the presentation. But if you’ve saved the presentation with the PPTX extension, the PowerPoint interface will appear—if PowerPoint is installed on the computer. Computers without the main PowerPoint application can still run PowerPoint presentations by using Microsoft's free PowerPoint viewer.