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Bullet Alternatives 004

Horizontal File Tabs

Using Bullet Alternatives

Here is another way to present list items. The example to the right illustrates how a bulleted list might be restructured into a more interesting layout.

Bullet alternatives can be applied to pages describing steps, text lists, choices, ideas, etc. Table of contents can usually benefit from list alternatives; but this framework, however, is probably not effective in that way. These frameworks are better used as section dividers within the presentation, with the main points of the tables of contents occupying the tabs. The space below the tabs can be used to outline the contents/objectives/issues for each section.

You also might want to place an icon on each tab to help identify the contents of that section. The icon can be in place of or augment text on the tab.

Once you have identified the best-suited bullet alternative variation, download it to a specific location on your computer so you'll be able to find it (the desktop is always a good choice).

Customizing your bullet alternative

Adjust size

If you want to change the size/shape of the PowerFramework, be sure to group it and resize the entire group. Once resized, ungroup to proceed with other customizations. The PowerPoint downloads are set up to contain the total number of segments. These are the easiest to use. But if you already have your pages established, you may want to download and use the emfs. Place the downloaded emf on your page and position it where it looks the best or best suits your purposes. Ungroup and delete the blank field behind the framework. If there are three segments, as in the example above, copy the emf graphic and place on your existing pages within the presentation.

Color variations

Use color to highlight each tab within the presentation. Select color from your document's color palette or a complimentary color so that the tabs will reflect the color scheme of the rest of your document. The PowerPoint downloads do not have a line color set, but you can apply a line color if you wish.

3D variations

3D effects are not recommended for this type of framework, especially for those sets that have a lot of tabs. If you must use 3D, use a very short depth so that the tab sections appear distinct.


A shadow effects adds interest and dimension to the tabs, which can be accomplished within PowerPoint after the tabs has been imported. Be conservative when choosing shadow treatments for tabs. Some of the shadow choices interfere with the other tabs, so be careful which you apply. Also, be sure that line beneath the tabs is in the front (layer) and do not apply a shadow to it.

The shadow example above uses pre-PowerPoint 2007 shadows, but you can use the drop shadows in PowerPoint 2007 as well. They look especially nice.

Gradients, patterns, and pictures

Gradients don't work really well with this type of framework. If you must use a gradient, be sure to apply it correctly, as the text over the gradient needs to be clear and readable. Click here to view the best practice for text over gradients to be sure you do this correctly.


Don't animate these tabs. Instead, animate the contents of the page beneath the tab graphic.

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