How to effectively combine text with images in PowerPoint

According to the famous “Double-coding theory” developed by Allan Paivio at the University of Western Ontario, the human brain remembers memories more easily when they have a double coding thanks to multiple mental representations.

Are you lost? Follow me, it’s easy.

If I show you a picture of a cat at the same time as the word “cat”, your brain will store that information in two ways: through an image and through a writing (“double coding”).

At the moment you want to remember that memory, the brain will have the option to remember it as an image or as a text and, therefore, it will have more chances of recovering it in case one of the two storage modes has been lost.

What does the “theory of dual coding” teach us? That the image is very powerful, but if we associate it with a text label, we maximize its duration in the minds of the people. For this reason, we make slides with images and text.

You would have said that only the images help to remember longer? On the other hand, even coupled text with images can make the difference.

Now that you can place the image on the entire slide, without distorting it, can you also associate it with the actual text? Beware, the answer is not trivial at all.

I designed a slide on the subject of reaching goals.

What did I write? Which is the message?

You can’t read it properly because it does not contrast with the background and, therefore, becomes illegible. Instinctively I can move it to an area of the slide where you read better, right?

Alternatively, I just have to change the image.

When I choose a text, I would like to not have to change it because of design problems and, therefore, I need a smarter solution.

The most effective technique that I usually use to solve the problem of positioning the text independently of the image is the one of the transparent boxes.

I show you how it works.

I select the text box and assign a background color to create as much contrast as possible with the color of the text.

Also, the color of the box I choose is the same as the color of an object that is already part of the image.

In this case, the suit is perfect because it is black and the black contrasts with the white of my text. In addition, the suit is the only object of high contrast on the slide and unbalances the weight of the view on the right side, then, thanks to a black box on the left side that rebalances the weights of the slide.

To put exactly the same black color of the suit, use the eyedropper tool (or “dropper”) present only in the latest versions of PowerPoint.

The box contrasts and the text is readable, but we can’t leave it that way because it is too violent in the image. Therefore, we present the concept of transparency that we will assign to the bottom of the box to preserve the best possible contrast and improve its integrability with the photo.

In this example, I have also rounded the corners of the box to adapt to the rounded shapes of the photo 😊.

Alternatively, you could take advantage of the third slide (see The only golden rule for creating an effective PowerPoint presentation) and draw the design that follows.

Or even make the box interact with the protagonist by passing it under her arm.

Do you wonder how I did it? You can anticipate that I only used PowerPoint and I will explain it in the next paragraph.

Crop only parts of an image in PowerPoint

To pass the box behind the arm, you must duplicate the arm and place it on a higher level. To duplicate the arm, you must duplicate the photo and, when you duplicate the photo, there is still the problem of cropping the arm.

This is how I did it.

First, duplicate the photo so you have a new photo from which you can retrieve your arm.

I select the tool “Curve”

This tool creates a curved line with a point of inflection every click. Hence, you can follow the contour of the figures that are going to be cut out.

I zoom on the part of the arm that I intend to crop to follow the contour more easily.

Do you see the blue line on the left external part of the arm? That is the curve that I am drawing.

I turn around and close the curve.

At this point, I select in order (it is important to follow this order) the image, the photo and apply the “Intersect” function.

At this point, simply place the arm over the original photo and classify the three levels: arm, text box and background image so that the text box is between the two levels of the image.

To open the layers panel in PowerPoint, simply select the “Select panel”.

Now I would say that the cropping of images in PowerPoint is enough to be able to unleash your creativity in future presentations and amaze your next audience.

Get a professional style by combining boxes in transparency and black and white images

It may happen that you have to work on business presentations that require a very formal style and this can force you to maintain a much more peaceful and professional tone of voice.

Inserting images that have many colors at different levels of the presentation becomes complex because you run the risk of not being in tune.

Does this mean you can not use images anymore? Absolutely not! It means only that you have to communicate them in a different way and an excellent solution are the boxes in transparency.

Imagine making a presentation for Microsoft that works with a predominant blue color (Microsoft blue).

The cover slide can be made using an image placed behind a box in transparency. In the box you could assign the color of the principal of the brand and here you would get a slide that uses the strength of the visual content of the image, but has a very calm tone and in line with the brand.

Note that the image has been desaturated, that is, it has been left in black and white so that the overlap with the blue box is clean.

To desaturate an image, simply select the image and remove the color from the “Color” menu.

If you pay attention to apply boxes in transparency on the desaturated images throughout the presentation, the result will be a presentation that takes advantage of the power of the images with very calm tones and always coherent with the brand from a stylistic point of view.


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