christmas-present better PowerPointIt’s not asking much. I’d just like to be working with a data visualisation package (since that’s what the MR industry uses it for) that’s a bit fitter for purpose. And I do admit that PowerPoint 2013 is better than previous versions, for example on setting page size, and the eye-dropper. However. There are some things that it just can’t do that, given how we use it, it should be able to do. So just in case Microsoft Santa is reading this, on my Christmas list of better PowerPoint would be:

Charts

  1. Stop being such a pain in the neck when I try and set source data. Make it easier to specify what are the axes, what are the series etc etc and don’t reset these things every time the chart data area is changed. And it would be nice to be able to do this without going into the datasheet. Specifying which parts of the chart does what should be a lot easier and more intuitive.
  2. I’d like to be able to specify some of the dimensions within the chart, IN PARTICULAR the width of the vertical axis label field. Fed up of having to shorten the wording so the label on a horizontal bar chart doesn’t wrap. If I want a long label, I should be able to have one, so say I. Without having to resort to creating a table next to the chart for the labels and hiding the actual labels because I can’t get them to do what I want. No more! And I’d like to be able to specify the alignment as well. And on all chart types, even spider charts.
  3. PowerPoint has become much better when it comes to lining up shapes, with its automatically-appearing guidelines and grid options. But charts don’t seem to be able to join in the fun. I’d like to be able to align charts in the same way as other objects, and, if it’s not too much trouble, choose whether I’m aligning the chart area or the plot area. And I want to be able to decide how big the plot area is within the chart area. That way, if I have two charts next to each other that have to be the same size, I’m not completely stuffed if I alter the plot area on one of them, because I have no guaranteed way of ensuring that the plot area of the other one exactly matches. Unless I copy and paste the chart I’ve just changed and start again…
  4. Formatting charts. I wonder how much of my life I’ve spent doing this. How about a chart format paste tool, where all the formatting options of one chart can be transferred onto another? It would include series colour, effects, line colour and style, labels and position, font, axis options etc etc etc. That would be neat. Especially if you could do it across different chart types.
  5. I’m in a phase of wanting to place lots of small charts next to each other on the same slide. It looks great (I think) but is a pain, because each chart datasheet is completely stand-alone. How about an option where a chart datasheet is made available to all charts on a slide? Then you can have all your data in one table and use it to build all your similar charts without having to copy and paste the data n times. There could be other ways of making it easier to work with a number of different charts at the same time. Please, let’s drop this idea that there should be only one chart on a slide.

Tables

  1. PowerPoint tables. Where to begin? How about some table functionality for a start? A simple sum feature, and count, average calculations? Even Word can manage that. Some ranking, maybe? Would be nice.
  2. Copying and pasting into PowerPoint tables always seems to create work. It doesn’t seem very easy to retain the formatting of the original table and I find myself re-applying formatting again and again. Paste Values doesn’t seem to work in the same way it does in Excel. Make this easier, please.
  3. Once again, how about a tables format painter? One grudge I have is that it doesn’t seem possible to replicate the colour and style of a table border. Say I have a table with some nice borders and I add some new columns. I want those borders to have the same borders as the rest of the table. But what was the exact colour and style used? You don’t seem to be able to find out, leaving you to have to try and guess.
  4. Again, the drawing guides, while working well for other objects, don’t seem to operate in the same way with a table. I can’t rely on the slide design and the position of the placeholder. My slides are way to complex and diverse for that. But I need to be able to line things up properly. One of the simplest ways of making a slide look better is to get everything lined up accurately. But PowerPoint doesn’t make it easy.
  5. Finally on both tables and charts. Is there a way we can align them better, so that if there’s a table and chart next to each other that have to be aligned, we are not constantly guessing  to try and match them up?

Anyway, now that I’ve got that out of my system, Happy Christmas to all of you, and happy charting in 2015!

PS – any chance of a macro recorder? Please…?