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Tutorial for Text Tables 008 – Horizontal Flow

These text tables are stylish and functional at the same time. They convey a lot of information easily and effectively. Because the information is confined within a table, alignments and sizing are easily addressed (both vertically and horizontally). Tables like this work best when the information in each cell is roughly the same amount/size – the arrows and arrow shafts look best when they are the same size.

Customizing your text table

Importing preformatted text tables into your template

Whenever outside content that includes text (these preformatted tables, for example) is brought into your template, skewing is likely to occur. This happens because the two templates have different default text attributes. There is one step that you can take to position yourself so that this skewing is minimized – not only with PowerFrameworks tables, but with all text content brought in from an outside source.

This step is setting the text hierarchy in your slide master so that it works for you and not against you. If your slide master is formatted that the top level of text has a bullet, then all text you bring in from an outside source will have bullets. You don't want this, as it creates the need for a lot of unnecessary reformatting. Not only do you need to get rid of the bullet on imported text, but you need to get rid of the associated indent. You need to rethink the text hierarchy on your slide master. Your PowerFrameworks team strongly recommends that the first level of text hierarchy in a slide master should be nonbulleted, left-aligned text (no indent). The highest level of text on a slide is not bulleted text, it is the heading over/sentence leading into the bulleted text. Please review the best practice entitled, Establishing the Text Hierarchy in Your PowerPoint Slide Master."

Now that you don't have to deal with bullets on everything you import into your template, you can breeze through the rest of the reformatting caused by the other differences in text defaults, which centers around font size and color and font choice. Imported text will default to your settings either in the slide master or the text size you've set for that page. That means, for example, that a table containing 10-point text, once imported, becomes a table containing 22-point text, which seems to distort and scares you near to death.

  • The first step in regaining control is to highlight the whole table and apply a reasonable font size. The table should pop back into its original dimensions.
  • The next step is to apply the correct font and font color. PowerFrameworks text tables are formatted with the Ariel font and the color is black. Choose whatever works best in your presentation.

At this point you can start loading the template with your own content.

Adjust size

Size adjustments for these types of charts are a two-step process. The first size adjustment is the first thing you do after it has been imported into your presentation, and the second size adjustment is the last thing you – after all graphic and text insertions are made.

Size adjustment 1

If the imported slide is too large for your template, then select the whole chart and reduce its size until it fits gracefully onto your slide.

Size adjustment 2

Input text and import graphics into the table and then perform the last size adjustment. These tables work best when the text in each cell is relatively the same size. That way the flows look uniform, the table presents well, and the slide appears polished. When you have entered all of your text into the cells, you will need to rebalance the table. This is a great tip, incidentally. If you put all of your text into the table first, you will only have to rebalance the page once. Try not to adjust the column widths because the imported background graphic will not look uniform. You may want to consider making the row heights uniform, however. This is discussed below.

Color variations

Since you will be importing color background graphics in each cell, be careful about adding too much other color. A good idea may be to add your color backgrounds to the cells and then decide if you need more fill or line colors.

There are other color considerations that are discussed below.

Importing a background graphic into the cells

Creating these tables with the imported arrows and arrow shafts is easy, but it does take a few steps and, therefore, a few minutes. These instructions are here in the tutorial as well as in the downloads. To make it easier, we've included a worksheet in the download that you can use to create your background arrows. The semitransparent arrows and the color fields are in the worksheet so you don't have to go to the trouble of creating them yourselves. You can see in the graphic below that the arrows and the background fields are separate fields.

Now that you have the cell background graphics created, you can import them into the table cells. The following explains the importing procedure for pre-PowerPoint 2007 versions.

The following explains the importing procedure for PowerPoint 2007 versions.

Now that you have imported all of the background colors, you'll need to adjust the text colors so that the text is readable.

We've shown how this text table can be used to show flows for each row. You can also reverse the arrows or replace the arrow/arrow shaft with, for example, a question mark for the cells in the column of questions or an exclamation point for the cells in a column of answers. This technique will allow for any graphic to be inserted in a cell. The underlying graphics that you import should be conducive to the readability of overlaying text, however.

This is a great formatting technique to add to your skill set.

2007 options

There aren't additional options for formatting tables in PowerPoint 2007.

3D variations

No 3D on these please.


No shadows on these please.

Gradients, patterns, and pictures

No gradients on these please.


There is no animated example for this series, but you can add text fields that can be animated with reveals if you wish. The table, itself, cannot be animated.

Series that relate to this tutorial:

TT008 – Text Table 008 – Flow

Possible use example

Links to instructions for getting the framework into your presentation

  1. Determine the best file type for your needs
  2. Download the file
  3. Import the framework into your presentation
    1. Importing a PPT file
    2. Importing a EMF or PNG
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