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Creating Action Buttons
by Sara W. Tucker

Action Buttons let you navigate quickly and efficiently within a slide show. They can also be used to activate hyperlinks, letting you jump outside of the show to visit useful websites. If you want one or more buttons on all slides, they can be added to the Slide Master and so show up automatically on all slides. Or specific buttons can be created just for specific slides.

red dot icon   Start by displaying slide to which button is to be added. If you want the button to be on all slides, do this with the Slide Master slide. (To creat or change the Slide Master, click View, Master, and Slide Master.) If it is a single slide, have the slide in either Normal (showing slide, notes and outline frames) or Slide (dominated by slide, with notes and outline frames almost invisible) view.

red dot icon  Select Slide Show, Action Buttons. Pick a button style from the pop-up box or palette that appears. The below screen shot image shows a PPT composition screen with the button pop-up palette visible. Eleven of the twelve buttons offer commonly-useful icons. Thus the house button is often used for a "return to home page" link; the horn icon shows sound, plain triangles show moving one slide forward or back while those with a line mean all the way forward or back. Note that none of these buttons produce such actions automatically - you could insert a house button and use it to stand for a sound link, for example. With all this in mind, choose a button style by clicking on that style. Or if none match what you want to convey, choose the blank button. When inserted and selected, it will allow you to key in text which will appear on its surface.

Screen shot of Action Button setup palettes
Screen shot of Action Button setup palettes

red dot icon  Your mouse pointer should now have turned into a crosshair. Click wherever in the slide you want the Action Button to appear, and then drag to draw a button box the size you want it. You can also resize a button whenever you want; just click to select it and then drag a corner or edge. An Action Settings box should appear as you click and insert the button object. If it does not, or you want to return to this box later, just select the button object, rightclick, select Action Settings, and you should see the box.

Screen shot of PPT Action Settings box
Screen shot of PPT Action Settings dialog box

red dot icon  Choose the type of action you want to happen when the Action Button is clicked. Several choices are invisible in the example box above, hidden by the drop-down box activated when hyperlink is chosen. FYI, those choices are Run Program, Run Macro, and Object Action. We won't deal with any of those here, but doubtless they are of great value to someone! For most of us, action buttons are useful as navigational hyperlinks to other slides, additional PPT presentations and outside websites. You can choose all of those functions from the Hyperlinkto dropdown box.

red dot icon  Example: As an historian teaching about ancient and unfamiliar areas, I often want to call students' attention to where things are on maps. Rather than insert many copies of the same map throughout a presentation, I create one map slide, and then add action buttons wherever in my presentation I might want to jump to that slide. I do so by clicking on the drop-down box choice "Slide...", which then produces another box showing all the existing presentation slides. I click on the context map slide's title, and that becomes my hyperlink. On the map slide I then also have
an Action Button, with a hyperlink created by selecting the "Previous Slide" choice.

red dot icon  Fine-tuning button actions and appearances.

  • Changing the color of any text on the button requires a somewhat different approach. It can't be done just by using the quick font button, because that text is now a hyperlink, and PPT overrides regular font colors to make all hypertext one uniform hypertext font color. But you can choose what color hyperlink font will be. Just select Format, and then Slide Color Scheme. In the box that appears, select the second tab at the top, Custom. You are interested in the bottom two color choices, for Accent and hyperlink and Accent and followed hyperlink. Double click in each color box to bring up the full range of color choices. You can choose a new color by clicking within the large spectrum box on a likely color; you can then choose a deeper or lighter version by clicking in the color column to the right. Your new choice will appear at the top of the bi-color box to the bottom right; the existing link color will appear to the bottom of the box. Whatever color you choose for the first is what the button text will appear most of the time, but once you've used it, it will be the second color.