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Presentation Automation

Overview

Macabacus includes several powerful tools that automate and simplify the process of creating professional, high quality presentations, while standardizing the appearance of presentations throughout your organization. Use Macabacus' presentation automation functionality to dynamically populate and synchorize agendas (i.e., tables of contents) and flysheets (i.e., section dividers), mark multiple slides at once with a customizable stamp (e.g., "CONFIDENTIAL," "For Internal Use Only"), create new presentations pre-populated with slides you know you will need, and more. These tools are discussed in more detail elsewhere in this documentation.

Macabacus-Enabled Templates

At the center of Macabacus' presentation automation functionality is a presentation template—a standard .potx file—specially configured to work with Macabacus' presentation automation tools. Macabacus installs with a sample template used to demonstrate the functionality of these presentation automation tools and proper configuration of a Macabacus-enabled template. The sample template is good a starting point if you are building a presentation template from scratch. If you already have a presentation template that you want to use with Macabacus, you must enable it to work with Macabacus' presentation automation tools using this manual and Macabacus' Template Wizard in PowerPoint to guide you.

Working with Templates

Creating and modifying presentation templates requires proficiency working in Slide Master view. Accordingly, our larger customers tend to assign responsibility for presentation templates to their presentation technologies, training, or IT professionals.

Using Multiple Templates

You probably will not require more than a single presentation template, but Macabacus can work with as many as you like. For example, larger organizations might require a different template for each business unit. Or, you might need one template designed for print and another designed for screen. If you have multiple templates, you must instruct Macabacus which one to use by setting it as the "active" template in the Application Settings dialog.

Template Features

Each Macabacus-enabled presentation template consists of up to six "special" layouts that work with certain Macabacus presentation automation tools, and a handful of "content" layouts. Content layouts are any layouts in your template not designated as special layouts. Content layouts can suggest general layout possibilities, or have specific applications, such as team pages and credentials ("creds") pages. Both special and content layouts may contain "special" shapes used to implement agenda and slide stamp functionality. Special layouts and special shapes are designated as such, using Macabacus' Template Wizard in PowerPoint.

Special Layouts

Title Page The title page layout is intended to be used for the first slide in a presentation, unless a separate cover page is present.
Agenda The agenda layout can be used as your table of contents, or as a flysheet that divides sections in a presentation, depending on your Macabacus settings. The agenda is populated with section/subsection topics in your presentation.
Section Divider The section divider can be used as a flysheet when working with a table of contents. If you are instead using agendas as flysheets, only the bullet numbering convention found on this slide is used.
Legal Notices Some organizations include a slide with legal notices and disclaimers in each presentation produced. The text on these slides is not editable by end users when the template is properly configured using the Template Wizard.
Contact Information Some organizations include a slide with contact information, such as addresses, phone numbers, and office locations, in each presentation they produce. The text on slides using this layout is not editable by end users when the template is properly configured using the Template Wizard.
Intentionally
Blank Page
This layout supports duplex (double-sided) printing and typically includes text like "This page intentionally left blank." Inserting intentionally blank slides before flysheets can ensure that flysheets are always printed on the front of pages.

Special Shapes

Slide Stamps Slide stamps are text placeholder shapes that may be included in any layout in a Macabacus-enabled presentation template to convey the privacy level of a slide or presentation, such as "CONFIDENTIAL" or "For Internal Use Only." Slides should normally have no more than two slide stamp placeholders. Slide stamps are optional, but highly recommended for most layouts—particularly content layouts.
Section Titles Section titles are text placeholder shapes that may be included in any content layout in a Macabacus-enabled presentation template to display the name of the preceding section and/or subsection. Section titles provide the reader visual cues about the relative positioning of a content slide in a presentation, and are updated automatically when Macabacus updates the agenda. Section titles are optional.
Table of
Contents
Placeholder
(PowerPoint 2007 only) The table of contents slide contains a text placeholder shape designated to hold section titles and, optionally, subtitles collected from flysheets in a presentation. If a slide in the template is designated as a table of contents slide, then a table of contents placeholder must be designated on that slide.
Flysheet
Title/Subtitle
(PowerPoint 2007 only) The flysheet layout contains text placeholder shapes for a section title and subtitle. Text populating these placeholders is used to build the table of contents.

Configure Your Template

Getting Started

If you are creating a presentation template from scratch, consider using the sample template that installs with Macabacus as your starting point and make formatting and layout adjustments as required. If you are configuring an existing template to work with Macabacus, spend a little time understanding how the sample template works in order to learn what layouts and shapes should be included in your template. Ensure that your template is complete, including all desired layouts, formatting, etc., before configuring it for Macabacus to minimize the chance that subsequent changes to your template "break" the configuration. Your completed template should include a handful of content layouts and some "special" layouts that serve specific purposes, such as a title page, flysheet, etc.

Do Not Preserve

Ensure that the Slide Master in your Macabacus-enabled template is not "preserved." A preserved Slide Master will have a small pin icon next to it in Slide Master view.

Slide Number Placeholders

Adding slide number placeholders to your template is a purely native operation (not related to Macabacus), but one that is so often bungled that it is worth discussing here. To add slide number placeholders to your template, select your Slide Master and click the Slide Master > Master Layout button. Check the "Slide number" box in the dialog and click OK. Format the resulting slide number placeholder as desired. Then, for each layout on which you want slide numbers to appear, check the Slide Master > Footers checkbox.

No Slides Required

As of Macabacus for PowerPoint v4.2.0, slides are no longer required in your Macabacus-enabled template; only layouts. However, the presence of slides in your template will not affect the operation of Macabacus (for example, if you update Macabacus software but not your template).

Template Wizard

With your completed, pre-configuration presentation template open in PowerPoint, open the Template Wizard (accessed from the Macabacus > Settings menu). If you created your template using the sample that installs with Macabacus as your starting point, then you may want to proceed directly to the Validate tab in Template Wizard to see if your template is already valid or, if not, what issues should be addressed for your template to validate.

Name Your Layouts

On the Layout Names tab in Template Wizard, ensure that each layout's name intuitively describes its form or function, as layout names are visible in some native and Macabacus interfaces. You can edit layout names directly on the Layout Names tab (similar to editing file/folder names in Windows Explorer), or using native PowerPoint functionality. If you rename a layout using native PowerPoint functionality, click the Refresh button in Template Wizard for the new name to appear.

Designate Special Layouts

Use the Special Layouts tab to designate non-content layouts in your template that serve specific purposes (described above), and which must be explicitly identified for some presentation automation tools to work.

Agenda and Section Divider

The agenda layout actually serves two functions: it is used as the table of contents slide when a presentation's flysheet style is set to "Topic," or as a flysheet when a presentation's flysheet style is set to "Agenda." Although the section divider slide only appears in a presentation if its flysheet style is set to "Topic," the bullet formatting (described below) on this slide determines the section numbering/lettering convention shown in the agenda. Therefore, you must include the section divider layout in your template to work with agendas, even if you never use a section divider slide in your presentations.

The legal notices layout is commonly used for required disclosures and disclaimers. To prevent end users from manipulating text on legal notices slides, set the body text of the slide directly in its layout in Slide Master view (as demonstrated in the sample template that installs with Macabacus).

Intentionally Blank Slide

The intentionally blank layout supports duplex (double-sided) printing. For example, inserting intentionally blank slides before flysheets can ensure that flysheets are always printed on the front of pages. Include text such as "This page intentionally left blank" in the middle of the slide's layout in a textbox—not placeholder—to prevent editing. The intentionally blank slide's layout must not include a slide number placeholder shape to ensure consistency in numbering between duplex-printed presentations and onscreen presentations.

Designate Special Shapes

Use the Shapes tab in the Template Wizard to designate shapes in your template as "special" shapes. Special shapes must be explicitly identified for some Macabacus features to work, and include:

Agenda Shapes

The agenda layout (in Slide Master view) should contain several hidden shape groups containing textboxes or AutoShapes (but not text placeholders), which are used to hold section/subsection numbers, topics, and slide numbers. This is best explained by examining a live example, so open the sample template that installs with Macabacus. With the agenda layout selected in Slide Master view, open PowerPoint's Selection Pane from the Home tab. You should see five hidden shape groups, as described below. Unhide them.

Agenda Level 1 This required group normally contains section numbers/letters, topics, and slide numbers at indent level 1.
Agenda Level 1 Active This group normally contains section numbers/letters, topics, and slide numbers at indent level 1. If you are using flysheet style "Agenda," this group is required and reflects formatting of the active section.
Agenda Level 2 This required group normally contains subsection numbers/letters, topics, and slide numbers at indent level 2.
Agenda Level 2 Active This group normally contains subsection numbers/letters, topics, and slide numbers at indent level 2. If you are using flysheet style "Agenda," this group is required and reflects formatting of the active subsection.
Agenda Level 3 This optional group is used only with flysheet style set to "Topic," and most commonly contains slide titles and slide numbers at indent level 3.

Next, note the bracketed text in each of the grouped shapes, which tells Macabacus what purpose each shape serves:

[#] This is where Macabacus places the section/subsection number or letter (e.g., 2, B, b, II, ii).
[Topic] This is where Macabacus places the section/subsection topic, or when using flysheet style "Topic," any other shape text you choose to include in the table of contents.
[P] This is where Macabacus places the slide number on which the section/subsection begins, or when using flysheet style "Topic," the slide number of any shape marked for inclusion in the table of contents.

Once you have positioned and formatted your agenda shapes in Slide Master view in your own template, ensure that you:

  • Group shapes as shown in the sample template. Each group should contain a single section letter/number, topic, and slide number textbox (slide numbers are not required, but recommended);
  • Use the exact grouped shape naming convention as shown above (e.g., "Agenda Level 1");
  • Use the exact bracketed text shown above to denote shape function (e.g., "[#]"); and
  • Hide the agenda shape groups before leaving Slide Master view.

Section Topic Placeholder

The section divider layout must contain one text placeholder shape with numbered bullets at indent levels 1 and 2. This placeholder is populated with section/subsection topics when updating the agenda, if the presentation's flysheet style is set to "Topic." The bullet style used in this placeholder shape determines the numbering convention that Macabacus uses when creating the agenda, even if the section divider slide itself is not used within your presentation (i.e., flysheet style is set to "Agenda").

Section Title Placeholders

Section titles are optional textboxes (not to be confused with text placeholders) on content layouts in your template used to display the name of the preceding section/subsection. Designate these textboxes as section titles on the Shapes tab in the Template Wizard while in Slide Master view. If section titles are present in multiple layouts in your template, check the "Apply designation to similar shapes in other layouts" box to avoid having to individually designate similar shapes in multiple layouts, which could be tedious. With this option checked, Macabacus looks for shapes in other layouts with the same position and dimensions as the designated shape and applies the designation to those shapes as well. Therefore, it is important that all section titles have uniform positioning and dimensions. Section titles may only be added to layouts, not the Slide Master.

Slide Stamps

Slide stamps are optional textboxes (not to be confused with text placeholders) used to display slide markings such as "CONFIDENTIAL" or "DRAFT." If you choose to use slide stamps, you will generally want to include them on all content layouts, and perhaps some special layouts, within your template. You may include multiple stamps in a single layout, although they will all contain the same text when updated. Note that the default text entered in the template's slide stamps is not particularly important, as the stamp text will update when the end user applies a customizable, predefined stamp from the Macabacus > Stamps menu. So, you could populate your stamps with dummy text, such as "STAMP."

Designate these textboxes as slide stamps on the Shapes tab in Template Wizard while in Slide Master view. If stamps are present in multiple layouts in your template, check the "Apply designation to similar shapes in other layouts" box to avoid having to individually designate similar shapes in multiple layouts, which could be tedious. With this option checked, Macabacus looks for shapes in other layouts with the same position and dimensions as the designated shape and applies the designation to those shapes as well. Therefore, it is important that all such slide stamps have uniform positioning and dimensions. Slide stamps may only be added to layouts, not the Slide Master.

First Content Layout

Keep in mind that the first content (non-special) layout in your template is the layout Macabacus uses when you create a new single-slide presentation, also known as a "rider," when clicking the Macabacus > New > New Slide button. Therefore, the first content layout in your template should be a simple layout intended for general use, rather than a purpose-specific layout.

Check Your Template

When you have configured your template as described above, proceed to the Validate tab in the Template Wizard to verify the integrity of your Macabacus-enabled template. Macabacus performs numerous checks to ensure that your template is properly configured, and will provide warnings or errors when any problems are found. Errors must be addressed in order for the template to work properly, and warnings should be given appropriate consideration.

The Summary tab provides an overview of the special layouts and shapes identified in your presentation template. Clicking on the items in each list will navigate to the selected layout/shape. Spend a moment navigating to all of the special layouts slides and shapes to ensure that they are properly designated and that nothing has been missed that the validation check might not reveal.

Publish Your Template

After configuring your template, publish it to the personal, team, or company library by clicking the Macabacus > Settings > Libraries > Publish Master button in PowerPoint, Excel, or Word. You will be prompted to select a presentation template to publish, and to specify a document group to which the template should be published. If the path to the library to which you are publishing is not set, Macabacus will prompt you to choose a library folder.

Administrator Privileges

To publish to the company library, either (a) activate Macabacus using the email address of a Macabacus account administrator, or (b) run PowerPoint as a Windows administrator. This prevents unauthorized changes by end users.

Use Your Template

Setting the Active Template

Once you have added one or more Macabacus-enabled presentation templates to the Template Library, open the Application Settings dialog in PowerPoint from the Macabacus > Settings menu and select a presentation template to be used as the "active" template. Macabacus uses the active template in the various applications described below. The sample template that installs with Macabacus is set as the active template by default.

This documentation refers to Macabacus version 8.5.4, and may differ from the PDF documentation
on your computer that installed with your version of Macabacus.