Training courses are excellent tools for getting up to speed on software quickly and often reveal techniques you may not have realized were possible. However even the best courses can't teach a user everything. Here are a few tips to supplement introductory or advanced PowerPoint training.

Power Point "Do's"

Check for PowerPoint updates regularly. This is a big software package and there are more than a few bugs. Microsoft is diligent about releasing regular fixes, but they don't work until you download and install them.

Install a default printer driver. A printer driver is a small program that tells the computer how to send information to a printer. PowerPoint needs a printer driver even if you don't have a printer connected to the computer. If your default printer is on the network, install a local driver as well in case you need to use PowerPoint while the network is down.

Save often! Computers crash, power fails, people spill coffee on their computers. It's not worth losing hours of work because you forgot to save.

Save multiple versions. Before making any major changes, use 'Save As' to save to a new file name. You might have MyProject1, MyProject2, and so on.

Backup your saved copies. Copy them to a network drive, a CD, a USB drive for example. If your hard drive crashes, you have another copy and you don't lose hours of work.

PowerPoint "Don'ts"

Don't work off non-local drives. Network and removable drives are fine for backups, but increase the chance of losing work when used as your primary work drive. Always work off a local copy.

Don't use Office-specific virus utilities. Yes, you should use a virus scanner. However some anti-virus applications include a special Office file scanning utility. These utilities are no more effective than normal virus scanners but use more resources and often create other problems. Disable them. Viruses in Office files will still be detected by the normal virus scans.

Don't use AutoLayout. You might have learned about this in your advanced PowerPoint training. Introduced in PowerPoint 2002, it's one of those Microsoft features that's a cute idea, but badly implemented. It causes elements to resize unpredictably and has a variety of other odd side effects.

Don't copy and paste content into PowerPoint. Instead, save a copy of the picture to your local hard drive (if it's coming off the company network or the internet), then use Insert, Picture, From File to import the picture into your project. Pasting content from non-local sources creates a network link that will cause problems later.

You probably picked up a few other tips in your advanced PowerPoint training course and you'll discover more of your own as you use the software. Soon you'll have your own library of handy tips that will make your work easier and more efficient.