This posting is a straightforward technical overview of what to do with an image you want to put into a lecture. It applies to PCs, but I’m not Mac-literate any more. This said, at a session at St. Andrews, the process looked very similar.

There are various ways of adding an image to a PPT or Keynote (the Mac version of PPT). People often use the ‘insert image’ route, which is fine. In my view, there is a better way that gives you greater control over the quality of the image’s presentation when the slides are up. I’ll go through both and you can make your own minds up. Here’s the relevant menu bars etc

Relevant menu bars etc


From the top tab bar in Office 2010-2016; earlier versions use the same language, I think.

INSERT – IMAGES. Now locate the image as you would any other file. The image is now planted on the slide and you can move and resize as needed.  Sometimes there’s a border round the edge of the image, sometimes it fits. But to fit it needs to have bene in 4:3 scale to start with and most images these days are not scaled that way.

This brings me to the other method.

Take your blank slide and RIGHT CLICK – FORMAT BACKGROUND. You’ll see a new column open on the right, Find PICTURE OR TEXTURE FILL – INSERT PICTURE FROM FILE – FILE. Then locate the image on your machine.

The obvious difference is it’s a few clicks more than the other method. But the image is automatically resized to fit the slide, and it’s not on the slide it’s embedded. This means that when you add a text block, you can’t accidentally knock the image out of place, or have trouble identifying whether you’re clicking on a text box or the image. I was sold on the automatic reshaping. It’s instantly more accomplished than an image that leaves part of the slide showing.

Maybe now’s a good time to talk about professional slide preparation. I’ve developed a handy way of ensuring all my slides work the same way and appear professional. For reasons that will become clearer when I wrote about dyslexia, and for reasons of visibility, I only ever use black slides and white text. There’s a good reason for this. I’ve created a slide that amplifies the worst case scenario. Nobody would make one this bad; but there are a lot that hover around this ball-park.

Badly contrasted slide

The rooms we present our slides in can’t always be predictably lit unless they are purpose built theatres. Rooms with windows let in more light on sunny days than duller ones, for example. I enjoyed using the colour spectrum for my slides but realized that the only way I could reliably defeat the vagaries of the weather was to use the highest contrast possible – simple black and white. Dull too. But it worked well, and then I was told that dyslexic students have trouble with lower contrast backgrounds and text and I decided to stick with black and white – not white and black. For dyslexia purposes, it had to be black background and white text. Then I was told for some dyslexic people it’s the other way round.  I stayed with black background and white text, but sometimes I mix it up a little and use a fancy black background like this one. I made this myself so you can use it if you like.

Black mesh background free for CoP use

I’ll try to upload an animated PPT file master made from this, with working animation, soon.

So that’s how to insert, or embed, an image into a PPT file, just in case anyone needed to know.