The new Microsoft Office is packed with new features and updates to help you save time and stay organized. In PowerPoint 2013, Microsoft's presentation software, you will find new tools, sharing features, and a redesigned interface. OneNote 2013, Microsoft's note-taking software, goes mobile and gets some new features for taking richer notes. Both of these programs are included in the latest version of Microsoft Office, which is available to eligible nonprofits, public libraries, and charities through TechSoup's Microsoft donation program.
To learn more about the entire suite of new Office software, see Microsoft Office: What Your Organization Should Know.
The first change you'll notice when you fire up PowerPoint is a new start page with your most recent presentations as well as templates to choose from (you can also opt for a blank presentation). PowerPoint 2013 has quite a few new themes and templates. You can also choose different color variations for many of the new themes, giving you even more template options for your presentations. It is now even easier to format shapes, text boxes, and other graphics in slides with the new alignment guides that pop up when you click on a piece of media. These function similarly to the alignment guides found in Word 2013.
New alignment guides in PowerPoint help you format images in slides.
Another useful new feature is the ability to combine existing shapes and create new ones. For example, say you want to show a simple Venn diagram in a slide. Using the Merge Shapes tool, you can take two circles and choose to intersect, fragment, or combine them and more. This is a great way to create basic infographics for your slides and it is much easier to use than the "Group" tool in PowerPoint 2010. For more information, read Microsoft's how-to blog on combining shapes in PowerPoint.
One small but helpful new addition to the PowerPoint toolkit is the eyedropper tool. You can match text color to a color in an image, such as your organization's logo. It works just like the eyedropper tool in Adobe Photoshop.
PowerPoint 2010 added the ability to insert a video into your presentations however you had to either have the video file stored locally on your computer, or you had to know the embed code. In PowerPoint 2013, you can now search YouTube or Bing Video without leaving the program and easily add videos with a click of your mouse. If your organization has a YouTube account, this makes it even easier to add a digital storytelling element to your presentations.
Need to show a chart or table in a slide? Insert it directly into your presentation from Excel without losing any of its formatting or functionality. If your organization has its own Flickr or Facebook account, you can grab pictures from those albums and put them directly into your slides. There's no need to leave PowerPoint and open up your browser, nor do you need to save the files to your computer first.
Microsoft now also eases the process of setting up and organizing your slides so you can focus on giving your presentation. The improved Presenter View lets you see your slide notes for the current and upcoming slides on your monitor while the audience only sees the slide projected. It's like having your own private dashboard for conducting your presentation.
In previous versions of PowerPoint, setting up your presentation with a projector or another monitor was a bit complicated. The new PowerPoint actually works with Windows to help you get the correct projection settings. All you need to do is press the Present button, and it launches the presentation in the connected projector. If you are connected to a projector or second monitor, it will automatically extend your screen so that the projector shows the slides while your personal monitor shows you the Presenter View.
While you're in Presenter View, you can zoom in to slides and call out certain elements by drawing on them (with your mouse, stylus, or finger). There's also a handy navigation grid, which lets you easily switch slides in or out of sequence while your audience is unaware of what's going on behind the scenes. You can move slides by clicking and dragging them with your mouse or, if you're using a touchscreen, with your stylus or finger.
Like the entire new Office suite, PowerPoint has improved the tools for sharing and collaborating with your colleagues. You can share presentations with your colleagues via e-mail directly from PowerPoint. They can comment — and reply to other comments — within the presentation. You can also collaborate with your coworkers on a presentation in real time using the PowerPoint Web App.
When you're ready to present, you can use Office Presentation Service, a free public service that allows remote staff to follow along with your slides in their web browser.
It is now easier than ever to keep your notes organized with Microsoft OneNote 2013, a digital note-taking application that helps you keep your ideas, plans, and thoughts organized. (For more on OneNote, see TechSoup's Is Microsoft OneNote the One for You?). One of the more entertaining new features in Office is that you can now draw pictures in OneNote with your mouse (or with your finger/stylus on a touchscreen). If you're a visual note-taker (or simply like to doodle while you take notes), this is a helpful feature. Those who can't get used to typing notes will enjoy OneNote's new handwriting recognition feature. You can scribble down notes on your tablet or phone with your finger or a stylus and OneNote will convert them into text. In addition to your sketches, you can also insert pictures, charts, documents, videos, and more into your notes.
Like other programs in the new Microsoft Office suite, both OneNote 2013 and PowerPoint 2013 are designed to work and sync across multiple devices. Both programs are also optimized for touchscreens so you can use them on a tablet or a computer with a touch monitor.
PowerPoint and OneNote are connected with the cloud, giving more flexibility to when and where you can work on your projects. You can save your OneNote notebooks and PowerPoint presentations to SkyDrive, Microsoft's cloud storage service, directly from Office. You can then view or edit them on your tablet, smartphone, or another computer via the web using Office Web Apps, Microsoft's web-browser version of the Office suite.
Need to take notes on the go? OneNote also has its own web version in Office Web Apps so you can jot down notes while you're away from the office. There are also free OneNote mobile apps for Windows, iOS, and Android phones. OneNote automatically syncs with SkyDrive and SharePoint (although you must be connected to the Internet), so no matter where or how you're using OneNote, everything will be up to date. OneNote also auto-saves your notes, so you don't need to worry about saving if you quickly switch from your work computer to your smartphone.
OneNote 2013 lets you insert drawings, photos, text, and more into your notes.
All of your content in OneNote 2013 is searchable, including your pictures (words in pictures) and file titles. Even though your notes are saved to the cloud, you can export notebooks, sections, or pages if you want another copy stored on your computer.
Both PowerPoint 2013 and OneNote 2013 have been designed to make your working life easier. The new features in PowerPoint 2013 will save you time when creating your slides so you can focus on giving your presentation. OneNote 2013's new mobile components will help you stay organized — whether you're in the field or at your desk.
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