PowerPoint report templates: pros and cons

Recently, clients have asked us to create PowerPoint report templates. Our first reaction was ‘why aren’t they using Word?’. Apparently using PowerPoint as a report writing tool has become common practice in the finance and banking industry. On reflection, it’s easy to see why. You can certainly create interesting and complex Word page layouts. The catch is you need a reasonable level of expertise to use and/or revise these layouts. PowerPoint, however, has a certain intuitiveness. It’s perfect for someone wanting to easily and quickly arrange text and graphics on a page.

Here are a few pros and cons of using PowerPoint to produce ‘documents’ rather than traditional presentations:

Pros:

  • Depending on the setting, text boxes can resize automatically to accommodate more/less text or …
  • … text can automatically resize to fit a set-sized box
  • Master Slides provide easy access to multiple page layouts
  • Page layouts can include multiple columns which can be tricky to implement in Word for users with basic Word skills
  • Graphic elements such as logos, tables, etc. are easy to select, resize and position on the ‘page’

Cons:

  • You can’t link text boxes so you may have to cut/paste text manually
  • You can’t create and save text style sheets (although you can save bullet text styles; see our post Applying PowerPoint text styles)
  • Templates can lack functionality because there are no content controls or fields
  • No Quick Parts (although you can save boilerplate text, graphic elements, etc. on a hidden slide in the presentation)

Amercian author Nancy Duart also outlines some very creative ways of using PowerPoint for reports in her article Why I Write In PowerPoint. Here are some recent examples of report templates we’ve created for clients. If you could use something similar in your organisation, why not contact us for an estimate?

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