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How to Include Pictures, Equations, and Spreadsheets in Your Presentations and Lab Reports

Introduction

When you're presenting your work, either in written (lab report) or oral (presentation) form, it's frequently a good idea to include other types of material in addition to the normal words that Word and PowerPoint provide. This document will describe how to do this. Since both products are part of the Microsoft Office suite, the way you do this is very similar for both systems.

Pictures

In many ways, this is the easiest to do. Most of the time, you'll want to include digital camera pictures taken during your lab or showing your project or artwork you obtained (legally!) from other sources. Both Word and PowerPoint accept pictures in a wide variety of formats, including the JPEG format produced by the digital cameras used in the labs.

Inserting Pictures: Office 2003

Once your have the data file for the picture, all you have to do in either Word or PowerPoint is click the "Insert" item on the top menu bar. Among the items in the drop down menu will be a "Picture" item. If you don't see it, "hover" the cursor over the menu for a few seconds and the menu will be expanded to show you all the menu items, so "Picture" should now definitely be among them. When you click on "Picture" another drop down menu appears. For the type of pictures we're describing here, choose "From file". When you click on this item, a window will appear so you can find the file and include it. If you're lucky, you'll already be in the right directory, but if not, you'll have to navigate to the proper place. When you get there, just double click on the picture you want and it will be automatically included into your work where the cursor was placed

Frequently, the picture is the wrong size for what you want, either being too large or too small. You can resize the picture. First, click on the picture, and you'll see a bunch of dots appear around the edge of the picture: one in each corner of the picture and one in the middle of each edge. You can move the cursor over one of these dots and hold the left mouse button down to "drag" the dot, taking the picture with it. When you have the cursor where you want it, let go of the left mouse button and your picture will be resized.

You can also change the size and shape of the image if you want. If you click on the image, a frame will form around it with a small circle in each corner and a small square in the middle of each side. If you click on one of these, and drag the mouse, it will resize the image in various ways. If you click on one of the squares on the sides of the image, it will stretch and shrink the image in the horizontal direction. Similarly, if you click on one of the squares on the top or bottom, it will stretch and shrink the image vertically. If you click on one of the corner circles, it will resize the image, but keep it undistorted. Therefore, it is probably desirable to use the corner circles when changing the size of the image.

Keep in mind that as you grow and shrink the picture, Word or PowerPoint will recalculate the picture and change its resolution to fit the space you're giving the picture. This means that a picture that looks good in a small size might look "grainy" when you make it bigger. Make sure you consider the effects of changing size when you put it into your work.

There are also some considerations for the specific type of picture you're including.

Inserting Pictures: Office 2007

Once your have the data file for the picture, all you have to do in either Word or PowerPoint is click the Insert tab on the ribbon. Click on the Picture icon in the Illustrations group. On the "Insert Picture" popup window that appears, if you're lucky, you'll already be in the right directory. If you're not, you'll have to navigate to the proper place. When you get there, just double click on the picture you want and it will be automatically included into your work at the place where the cursor was.

Keep in mind that as you grow and shrink the picture, Word or PowerPoint will recalculate the picture and change its resolution to fit the space you're giving the picture. This means that a picture that looks good in a small size might look "grainy" when you make it bigger. Make sure you consider the effects of size changes when you put it into your work.

There are also some considerations for the specific type of picture you're including.

Digital Pictures

Usually, these pictures can be easily included in your document or presentation. However, keep in mind that documents are usually printed on black and white printers, so color pictures are frequently translated into black and white for printing. You should probably print your document yourself before submitting it to make sure it looks good, and that the picture doesn't become a big black blob in the middle of the document.

Scanned Images

Frequently, you'll be scanning sketches or other work you've done by hand. When you scan your work, make sure it is scanned as dark as possible. You should set the exposure so that the image does not contain black speckles, but is as dark as possible.

For a Word document, something that looks good on your laptop probably will look good when it's printed. However, PowerPoint presentations are an entirely different matter. When you include a scanned image onto a slide, any video projector usually "bleeds" the white background into the lines, making them much thinner and lighter. This means that a scanned image which looks good on a laptop or other display frequently comes out very light, if not invisible, when it's projected onto a screen. This is why you should scan the image as dark as possible. A very dark image will "brighten" on a video projector and turn out to be just about what you want when it's projected on the screen.

Equations

You'll find it necessary to include equations in your work. There are two ways to do this. Many of these equations are contained in the online manual as images, so it would be tempting to copy the picture from your Web browser and then copy it into your work. This has a number of drawbacks:

  • The image will typically look grainy. When Word or PowerPoint displays your work, it typically displays it at the highest resolution the output device is capable of generating. The online manual images are designed to be shown at a relatively small size as part of the manual text. When you enlarge the equation using the techniques in the earlier section, its low resolution becomes apparent.
  • Since the online manual has a white background, the equation image does as well. For a Word document, this is usually acceptable. However, with PowerPoint, unless you use a white background, the results will not look good. You'll have your slide background with the equation image (and its white background) superimposed on it, giving the impression that a hole was cut in the background. This doesn't look good.
  • If you work with the image repeatedly, growing and shrinking it, the nature of JPEG means you will lose detail each time you work with the image. This is not widely known, but is easily noticeable to a trained eye. A JPEG image is fine for just inserting the image, but it's likely that you'll have to work with it, possibly multiple times, before you get it right, causing a loss of resolution, and making the image look even more grainy.

Office 2003

The better way is to enter the equation directly into your work. Like using pictures, this is easy. On the top menu bar, select "Insert". When the drop down menu appears, select "Object". This will bring up a window showing the various kinds of objects you can create, in alphabetical order. Scroll down the list looking for "Microsoft Equation" and click on it. You can now enter the equation.

The exact way of entering the equation and editing it is beyond the scope of this page. However, you can read the online manual page Making Good Looking Equations in PowerPoint Presentations to learn how to do this and make the equation look professional.

After you've completed the equation, it will now look professional – something you can be proud of.

Office 2007

The better way is to enter the equation directly into your work. In Office 2007 equations are text, and can be manipulated similar to normal text. Click on the Insert tab on the ribbon. Now click on the Equation icon in the Symbols group all the way on the right side of the ribbon. This will automatically switch you to the Design tab. You can now enter your equation just like you did in the first lab.

If you're using PowerPoint, you may want to read the online manual page Making Good Looking Equations in PowerPoint Presentations to learn how to make the equation look professional.

After you've completed the equation, it will now look professional – something you can be proud of.


Spreadsheets

Like equations, spreadsheets are frequently needed in your work, and there are several ways to include them in your work. The first way is to prepare the spreadsheet in Excel and then copy it into your work. This will turn the cells you selected in Excel into a text table for inclusion in your work. For Word, you will get a default table size big enough to hold the cells. For PowerPoint, the table will generally fill most, if not all, of the slide, but still with the same font and type size you used in Excel, usually resulting in very large cells with very small text in them. In both cases, you can resize things to get what you want.

The second way is to create the spreadsheet directly in your work, like you did with an equation.

Second way - Office 2003

The method to do this is very similar to an equation, where you select "Insert" off the menu bar, then "Object", and in the window, select "Microsoft Excel Worksheet". This will bring up a live spreadsheet that you can work with directly. The menu bars and some other Excel features will be missing, but you can still obtain them by selecting the cells you want to change and then clicking the right button on the mouse that will bring up a popup menu of what you can do with the cells. You'll almost always find what you want by exploring these menus. Also, the default spreadsheet almost always has more cells than you need. If you look at the spreadsheet, you'll see dots around the edges, like you did with pictures. The dots work in a similar way, where you can change the number of rows in the sheet by dragging the bottom middle dot, the number of columns by dragging the right edge dot, or both at once by using the dot in the bottom right corner. By right clicking to change the cell contents, using the dots, and using the standard Excel features to change the row height and column width, you can get an extremely professional-looking product. When you're done with the spreadsheet, click on some other part of your work and you'll see the result. If you don't like it, just double click on the spreadsheet and you can work on it some more to make it look good. This approach will almost always give you the best results.

Second way - Office 2007

The method to do this is very similar to an equation. Click on the Insert tab on the ribbon, and then click on the Object icon in the Text group. In the Object window that pops up, scroll down the Create New menu until you see "Microsoft Office Excel Worksheet" and double click on this item. This will bring up a live spreadsheet that you can work with directly. The ribbons will be slightly different and will be missing some icons, but you can still do what you want. Just select the cells you want to change and click the right button on the mouse, which will bring up a popup menu of what you can do with the cells. You'll almost always find what you want by exploring these menus. Also, the default spreadsheet almost always has more cells than you need. If you look at the spreadsheet, you'll see dots around the edges, similar to the one that you had for pictures. The dots work in a similar way, where you can change the number of rows in the sheet by dragging the bottom middle dot, the number of columns by dragging the right edge dot, or both at once by using the dot in the bottom right corner. By right clicking to change the cell contents, using the dots, and using the standard Excel features to change the row height and column width, you can get an extremely professional-looking product. When you're done with the spreadsheet, click on some other part of your work and you'll see the result. If you don't like it, just double click on the spreadsheet and you can work on it some more to make it look good. This approach will almost always give you the best results.

Third way

The third way is to do your work in Excel, take a screen shot of the Excel spreadsheet, and then use Paint to select what you want, and then insert the result as a picture into your work. This is usually the worst alternative. As we described above, the image will typically look grainy compared to the result by using the spreadsheet itself, and you'll have a white background. As with pictures that are cut and pasted, the results will probably look amateurish, not nearly as good as the other approaches described above.

Summary

By using these techniques, you can produce work that will rival that done by trained professionals, and make an extremely good impression. All of your work in EG1004 should take advantage of them.

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