I have decided to become a member of the so-called shadow industry of self-publishing. In the past few months, I’ve learned that to be successful at self-publishing, I need to become an entreprenuer and think of writing as a business. It took me a while, but I’ve finally come to the realization that marketing and sales will respresent a big slice of my business activities in the coming years. If we agree to treat writing as business, then we must be concerned with the bottom line. For this reason, it’s good to have a few tricks for doing marketing on the cheap. Rather than pay out a fortune to a graphics designer for the simpler tasks, you can learn to do them yourself. In this blog post, I’ll show you how I create simple graphics using PowerPoint.
For years, I’ve been using a simple trick to create graphics for my real job (the one that pays actual money). You may not realize that Microsoft Office PowerPoint has become an increasingly useful tool to do all sorts of things beyond slide presentations. At the National Defense University, PowerPoint is my go-to for creating simple graphics to spruce up my publications and/or to brand my many events (headers, table tents, name badges, posters). In this blog, I’m going to show you how I do this. You don’t have to be a graphic designer to make your publications look professional or spend a fortune to get simple graphics like these element symbols.
I created the element symbols above for the first issue of my Technical Series on WMD Issues. It took me about five minutes. If you want to follow along in Powerpoint, open your program now.
- Create a blank presentation. Insert a blank slide.
- Click insert and select shape from the menu.
- Select the rounded rectangle.
- Create a rounded rectangle. Double click on the shape to adjust the size to make it symmetrical. Let’s make it 2″ by 2″ for now. If you want better resolution, make it bigger.
- Select the rectangle, click on file and choose your desired color. The default in my PowerPoint is a light blue. I’ve selected a light gray (15%). I’m going to leave the line border a light blue to match the original graphics.
- Now we’re going to add a bevel. Select the rectangle again, and click on Effects. Select bevel. To match the graphic above, select the angle bevel.
- The bevel is a bit narrow, so let’s adjust it. Click on effects and select bevel. Scroll down to bevel options. To make the angled bevel wider, increase the width and height to 9 pts. Now let’s add the text.
- Click on insert word art. Type Pu into the text box. Now choose the style. Available styles will depend on your version of PowerPoint. I’ve chosen shiny red style available in my PowerPoint.
- Edit the text to increase the size to 72 pts. Center the text on the graphic.
- Now let’s add the other text. Insert text box and type 94. Select the text, change the font to Helvetica, select bold and increase the size to 24 pts. Change the text color to medium gray (50%). Make sure the text is left align and place the 94 above the Pu to the left.
- Insert another text box (copy and paste). Type plutonium. Change the font to Helvetica and decrease the size to 16 pts. Place the word plutonium below the Pu and line up with the 94 above.
- Let’s add a shadow to the rectangle. Select the rectangle and click effects. Click on shadow and choose the outer shadow labeled as outside bottom
- We’re almost done. Click on select all. Click on arrange and select group.
- Select your graphic and press right click. Save as picture.
- Now you have created a graphic! And you didn’t have to buy or learn Adobe Illustrator.
Does this technique work for more complicated graphics? Absolutely! This is just a taste of what PowerPoint can do. I’ve created much more complicated graphics and posters using the many features of PowerPoint. I hope this has been useful. Let me know what you think.
The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the National Defense University, the Department of Defense or the U.S. Government.