PowerPoint X: Scandalously poor text editing interface

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
January 13th, 2004 • 6:14 am

I don’t know if it’s the same for PowerPoint XP or other Windows versions of the product, but the text editing tools in PowerPoint X are abominably poor.

I have already covered certain problems before.

Here are a couple of new ones that are driving me nuts today. The first one is, I suspect, a Mac-only “feature”.

If you are using white text on a dark background on a slide, while editing the text, the blinking I-beam cursor becomes invisible. Editing a text object in PowerPoint causes the object background to become inverted, and for some reason the blinking I-beam cursor in the editable text object has pretty much the same colour as the background.

One solution is to avoid using white text altogether, but it’s easier said then done, especially when you have to edit slides created by other people. Imagine trying to edit text without knowing where your cursor is. It’s impossible.

The second one is that there is no way to restrict the Find/Replace function in PowerPoint to the currently selected text object. If you click on “Replace All” in the Find/Replace dialog, PowerPoint automatically replaces all occurrences throughout the entire presentation. So the only solution is to replace occurrences one by one. Thanks Microsoft.

The third one is that there is no way to use tab stops in text objects in PowerPoint. There is no ruler. Actually, there is one, and you can put tabs in it, but: there is no “Tabs” dialog with a list of tabs with their numerical values, as there is in Word. And if you try to place tab stops in the ruler, you get all kinds of screen artifacts that make the ruler almost impossible to use.

Needless to say, it’s not surprising to see that secretaries that use PowerPoint never use this ruler, and continue to try and format table-like layouts by using multiple space and tab characters, which are of course a delight to edit after the fact.

And no, I don’t anticipate that any of these problems will be fixed in PowerPoint 2004. Why would they? The very fact that they exist in the first place defies common business sense. Surely no one actually buys such a lousy piece of software? Yeah right.

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